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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 78)

How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration

The overhaul of the federal tax law in 2017 was the signature legislative achievement of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

The biggest change to the tax code in three decades, the law slashed taxes for big companies, part of an effort to coax them to invest more in the United States and to discourage them from stashing profits in overseas tax havens.

Corporate executives, major investors and the wealthiest Americans hailed the tax cuts as a once-in-a-generation boon not only to their own fortunes but also to the United States economy.

But big companies wanted more — and, not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders. The tax bills of many big companies have ended up even smaller than what was anticipated when the president signed the bill.

One consequence is that the federal government may collect hundreds of billions of dollars less over the coming decade than previously projected. The budget deficit has jumped more than 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, partly as a result of the tax law.

Laws like the 2017 tax cuts are carried out by federal agencies that first must formalize them via rules and regulations. The process of writing the rules, conducted largely out of public view, can determine who wins and who loses.

Starting in early 2018, senior officials in President Trump’s Treasury Department were swarmed by lobbyists seeking to insulate companies from the few parts of the tax law that would have required them to pay more. The crush of meetings was so intense that some top Treasury officials had little time to do their jobs, according to two people familiar with the process.

The lobbyists targeted a pair of major new taxes that were supposed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from companies that had been avoiding taxes in part by claiming their profits were earned outside the United States.

The blitz was led by a cross section of the world’s largest companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Credit Suisse, General Electric, United Technologies, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, UBS, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, News Corporation, Chubb, ConocoPhillips, HSBC and the American International Group.

Thanks in part to the chaotic manner in which the bill was rushed through Congress — a situation that gave the Treasury Department extra latitude to interpret a law that was, by all accounts, sloppily written — the corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_130895553_4ce98faa-e477-440f-b670-73e9bce61508-articleLarge How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Treasury Department Taxation Tax Shelters Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Tax Credits, Deductions and Exemptions Procter&Gamble Co Mnuchin, Steven T Internal Revenue Service Income Tax Hanesbrands Inc General Electric Company Federal Taxes (US) Credit Suisse Group AG Corporate Taxes Anheuser-Busch InBev NV

A section of the Senate bill. Congress gave final approval to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 20, 2017.Credit…Jon Elswick/Associated Press

Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits, according to a review of the Treasury’s rules, government lobbying records, and interviews with federal policymakers and tax experts. Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.

“Treasury is gutting the new law,” said Bret Wells, a tax law professor at the University of Houston. “It is largely the top 1 percent that will disproportionately benefit — the wealthiest people in the world.”

It is the latest example of the benefits of the Republican tax package flowing disproportionately to the richest of the rich. Even a tax break that was supposed to aid poor communities — an initiative called “opportunity zones” — is being used in part to finance high-end developments in affluent neighborhoods, at times benefiting those with ties to the Trump administration.

Of course, companies didn’t get everything they wanted, and Brian Morgenstern, a Treasury spokesman, defended the department’s handling of the tax rules. “No particular taxpayer or group had any undue influence at any time in the process,” he said.

Ever since the birth of the modern federal income tax in 1913, companies have been concocting ways to avoid it.

In the late 1990s, American companies accelerated their efforts to claim that trillions of dollars of profits they earned in high-tax places like the United States, Japan or Germany were actually earned in low- or no-tax places like Luxembourg, Bermuda or Ireland.

Google, Apple, Cisco, Pfizer, Merck, Coca-Cola, Facebook and many others have deployed elaborate techniques that let the companies pay taxes at far less than the 35 percent corporate tax rate in the United States that existed before the 2017 changes. Their playful nicknames — like Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich — made them sound benign.

The Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties have tried to combat this profit shifting, but their efforts mostly stalled.

When President Trump and congressional Republicans assembled an enormous tax-cut package in 2017, they pitched it in part as a grand bargain: Companies would get the deep tax cuts that they had spent years clamoring for, but the law would also represent a long-overdue effort to fight corporate tax avoidance and the shipment of jobs overseas.

“The situation where companies are actually encouraged to move overseas and keep their profits overseas makes no sense,” Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said on the Senate floor in November 2017.

Republicans were racing to secure a legislative victory during Mr. Trump’s first year in office — a period marked by the administration’s failure to repeal Obamacare and an embarrassing procession of political blunders. Sweeping tax cuts could give Republicans a jolt of much-needed momentum heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

To speed things along, Republicans used a congressional process known as “budget reconciliation,” which blocked Democrats from filibustering and allowed Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. But to qualify for that parliamentary green light, the net cost of the bill — after accounting for different tax cuts and tax increases — had to be less than $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The bill’s cuts totaled $5.5 trillion. The corporate income tax rate shrank to 21 percent from 35 percent, and companies also won a tax break on the trillions in profits brought home from offshore.

To close the gap between the $5.5 trillion in cuts and the maximum price tag of $1.5 trillion, the package sought to raise new revenue by eliminating deductions and introducing new taxes.

Two of the biggest new taxes were supposed to apply to multinational corporations, and lawmakers bestowed them with easy-to-pronounce acronyms — BEAT and GILTI — that belie their complexity.

BEAT stands for the base erosion and anti-abuse tax. It was aimed largely at foreign companies with major operations in the United States, some of which had for years minimized their United States tax bills by shifting money between American subsidiaries and their foreign parent companies.

Instead of paying taxes in the United States, companies send the profits to countries with lower tax rates.

The BEAT aimed to make that less lucrative. Some payments that companies sent to their foreign affiliates would face a new 10 percent tax.

The other big measure was called GILTI: global intangible low-taxed income.

To reduce the benefit companies reaped by claiming that their profits were earned in tax havens, the law imposed an additional tax of up to 10.5 percent on some offshore earnings.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional panel that estimates the impacts of tax changes, predicted that the BEAT and GILTI would bring in $262 billion over a decade — roughly enough to fund the Treasury Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Cancer Institute for 10 years.

Sitting in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017, Mr. Trump signed the tax cuts into law. It was — and remains — the president’s most significant legislative achievement.

From the start, the new taxes were pocked with loopholes.

In the BEAT, for example, Senate Republicans hoped to avoid a revolt by large companies. They wrote the law so that any payments an American company made to a foreign affiliate for something that went into a product — as opposed to, say, interest payments on loans — were excluded from the tax.

Let’s say an American pharmaceutical company sells pills in the United States. The pills are manufactured by a subsidiary in Ireland, and the American parent pays the Irish unit for the pills before they are sold to the public. Those payments mean that the company’s profits in the United States, where taxes are relatively high, go down; profits in tax-friendly Ireland go up.

Because such payments to Ireland wouldn’t be taxed, some companies that had been the most aggressive at shifting profits into offshore havens were spared the full brunt of the BEAT.

Other companies, like General Electric, were surprised to be hit by the new tax, thinking it applied only to foreign multinationals, according to Pat Brown, who had been G.E.’s top tax expert.

Mr. Brown, now the head of international tax policy at the accounting and consulting firm PwC, said on a podcast this year that the Trump administration should bridge the gap between expectations about the tax law and how it was playing out in reality. He lobbied the Treasury on behalf of G.E.

“The question,” he said, “is how creative and how expansive is Treasury and the I.R.S. able to be.”

Almost immediately after Mr. Trump signed the bill, companies and their lobbyists — including G.E.’s Mr. Brown — began a full-court pressure campaign to try to shield themselves from the BEAT and GILTI.

The Treasury Department had to figure out how to carry out the hastily written law, which lacked crucial details.

Chip Harter was the Treasury official in charge of writing the rules for the BEAT and GILTI. He had spent decades at PwC and the law firm Baker McKenzie, counseling companies on the same sorts of tax-avoidance arrangements that the new law was supposed to discourage.

Starting in January 2018, he and his colleagues found themselves in nonstop meetings — roughly 10 a week at times — with lobbyists for companies and industry groups.

The Organization for International Investment — a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell — objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT.

The group’s lobbyists were from PwC and Baker McKenzie, Mr. Harter’s former firms, according to public lobbying disclosures. One of them, Pam Olson, was the top Treasury tax official in the George W. Bush administration. (Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said Mr. Harter didn’t meet with PwC while the rules were being written.)

This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.

One of the most effective campaigns, with the greatest financial consequence, was led by a small group of large foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays.

American regulators require international banks to ensure that their United States divisions are financially equipped to absorb big losses in a crisis. To meet those requirements, foreign banks lend the money to their American outposts. Those loans accrue interest. Under the BEAT, the interest that the American units paid to their European parents would often be taxed.

“Foreign banks should not be penalized by the U.S. tax laws for complying” with regulations, said Briget Polichene, chief executive of the Institute of International Bankers, whose members include many of the world’s largest banks.

Banks flooded the Treasury Department with lobbyists and letters.

Late last year, Mr. Harter went to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and told him about the plan to give the banks a break. Mr. Mnuchin — a longtime banking executive before joining the Trump administration — signed off on the new exemptions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A few months later, the tax-policy office handed another victory to the foreign banks, ruling that an even wider range of bank payments would be exempted.

Among the lobbyists who successfully pushed the banks’ case in private meetings with senior Treasury officials was Erika Nijenhuis of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb. Her client was the Institute of International Bankers.

In September 2019, Ms. Nijenhuis took off her lobbying hat and joined the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which was still writing the rules governing the tax law.

Some tax experts said that the Treasury had no legal authority to exempt the bank payments from the BEAT; only Congress had that power. The Trump administration created the exception “out of whole cloth,” said Mr. Wells, the University of Houston professor.

Even inside the Treasury, the ruling was controversial. Some officials told Mr. Harter — the senior official in charge of the international rules — that the department lacked the power, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Harter dismissed the objections.

Officials at the Joint Committee on Taxation have calculated that the exemptions for international banks could reduce by up to $50 billion the revenue raised by the BEAT.

Over all, the BEAT is likely to collect “a small fraction” of the $150 billion of new tax revenue that was originally projected by Congress, said Thomas Horst, who advises companies on their overseas tax arrangements. He came to that conclusion after reviewing the tax disclosures in more than 140 annual reports filed by multinationals.

Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said: “We thoroughly reviewed these issues internally and are fully comfortable that we have the legal authority for the conclusions reached in these regulations.” He said Ms. Nijenhuis was not involved in crafting the BEAT rules.

He also said the Treasury decided that changing the rules for foreign banks was appropriate.

“We were responsive to job creators,” he said.

The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense — and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions.

Back in 2017, Republicans said the GILTI was meant to prevent companies from avoiding American taxes by moving their intellectual property overseas.

In the pharmaceutical and tech industries in particular, profits are often tied to patents. Companies had sold the rights to their patents to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. The companies then imposed steep licensing fees on their American units. The sleight-of-hand transactions reduced profits in the United States and left them in places like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

But after the law was enacted, large multinationals in industries like consumer products discovered that the GILTI tax applied to them, too. That threatened to cut into their windfalls from the corporate tax rate’s falling to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Lobbyists for Procter & Gamble and other companies turned to lawmakers for help. They asked members of the Senate Finance Committee to tell Treasury officials that they hadn’t intended the GILTI to affect their industries. It was a simple but powerful strategy: Because the Treasury was required to consider congressional intent when writing the tax rules, such explanations could sway the outcome.

Several senators then met with Mr. Mnuchin to discuss the rules.

One lobbyist, Michael Caballero, had been a senior Treasury official in the Obama administration. His clients included Credit Suisse and the industrial conglomerate United Technologies. He met repeatedly with Treasury and White House officials and pushed them to modify the rules so that big companies hit by the GILTI wouldn’t lose certain tax deductions.

In essence, the “high-tax exception” that Mr. Caballero was proposing would allow companies to deduct expenses that they incurred in their overseas operations from their American profits — lowering their United States tax bills.

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon. News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception.

After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.

Two years after the tax cuts became law, their impact is becoming clear.

Companies continue to shift hundreds of billions of dollars to overseas tax havens, ensuring that huge sums of corporate profits remain out of reach of the United States government.

The Internal Revenue Service is collecting tens of billions of dollars less in corporate taxes than Congress projected, inflating the tax law’s 13-figure price tag.

This month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculated that the United States in 2018 experienced the largest drop in tax revenue of any of the group’s 36 member countries. The United States also had by far the largest budget deficit of any of those countries.

In the coming days, the Treasury is likely to complete its last round of rules carrying out the tax cuts. Big companies have spent this fall trying to win more.

In September, Chris D. Trunck, the vice president for tax at Owens Corning, the maker of insulation and roofing materials, wrote to the I.R.S. He pushed the Treasury to tinker with the GILTI rules in a way that would preserve hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits that Owens Corning had accumulated from settling claims that it poisoned employees and others with asbestos.

The same month, the underwear manufacturer Hanes sent its own letter to Mr. Mnuchin. The letter, from Bryant Purvis, Hanes’s vice president of global tax, urged Mr. Mnuchin to broaden the high-tax exception so that more companies could take advantage of it.

Otherwise, Mr. Purvis warned, “the GILTI regime will become an impediment to U.S. companies and their ability to not only compete globally as a general matter, but also their ability to remain U.S.-headquartered if they are to maintain the overall fiscal health of their business.”

The implied threat was clear: If the Treasury didn’t further chip away at the new tax, companies like Hanes, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., might have no choice but to move their headquarters overseas.

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

After Another Year of Trump Attacks, ‘Ominous Signs’ for the American Press

Westlake Legal Group 29trumpmedia01-facebookJumbo After Another Year of Trump Attacks, ‘Ominous Signs’ for the American Press Trump, Donald J Television Smith, Shepard Sanders, Sarah Huckabee Presidential Election of 2020 Newspapers News and News Media MSNBC Hannity, Sean Grisham, Stephanie Freedom of the Press Fox News Channel CNN Cable Television

On Twitter, President Trump deployed the phrase “fake news” 273 times this year — 50 percent more often than he did in 2018. He demanded “retribution” over a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, declared that Washington Post reporters “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House,” and accused The New York Times of “Treason.”

Four American journalists were barred from covering the president’s dinner with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The administration argued in court that it had the right to ban a reporter from the White House. The daily White House briefing ceased to exist. And a new press secretary rarely spoke in public outside of Fox News.

Mr. Trump’s vilification of the news media is a hallmark of his tenure and a jagged break from the norms of his predecessors: Once a global champion for the free press, the presidency has become an inspiration to autocrats and dictators who ape Mr. Trump’s cry of “fake news.”

For those who wondered if Mr. Trump might heed the concerns of historians and First Amendment advocates — who say his actions have eroded public trust in journalism, and perhaps the very concept of empirical facts — 2019 provided a grim answer.

“Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon,” the former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who quit the network this year after disagreements about its Trump coverage, said at a gala last month. “We don’t have to look far for evidence of that.”

Few presidents have affected the perception of journalism like this one. A Pew survey this month found that Americans’ confidence in news coverage is closely correlated to their opinion of Mr. Trump. Forty percent of Republicans who strongly approve of the president’s job performance said that journalists have “very low” ethical standards, versus only 5 percent of Democrats.

Mr. Trump has long oscillated between taunting, cajoling, criticizing, and manipulating the journalists who cover him. Asked by The Times in January about his views of the free press, Mr. Trump replied in contradictory ways, deeming the news media “important,” “beautiful,” “so bad,” and “unfair.”

And when he was confronted by the publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, about a rise in threats against reporters since he took office, Mr. Trump declared, “I don’t like that,” before quickly returning to his grievances. “When you get really bad stories, where it’s not true, then you sort of say, ‘That’s unfair.’”

By year’s end, Mr. Trump had referred to the press on Twitter as “the enemy of the people” in 21 tweets, up from 16 tweets in 2018.

To Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, these rhetorical attacks have rippled outward. Globally, Mr. Simon said in an interview, at least 30 journalists were jailed in 2019 under charges of reporting false news in 2019.

“We view that as governments around the world taking advantage of the Trump ‘fake news’ framing and using that as a pretext of imprisoning journalists,” Mr. Simon said. “The dissemination of that rhetoric has only increased in the last 12 months. It’s having a very negative effect.”

Domestically, journalists in Washington say Mr. Trump’s behavior this year has only deepened their unease.

Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, cited the attempt by the administration to ban a journalist — Brian Karem of Playboy magazine — from the White House grounds. The episode mirrored an incident in 2018 where Trump aides revoked the credentials of a CNN correspondent, Jim Acosta, and falsely accused him of “placing his hands” on an intern. (Both journalists’ passes were restored by the courts.)

For Mr. Karl, who reports for ABC News, the year’s “most chilling moment” came when a video that depicted Mr. Trump as a mass murderer, shooting and stabbing members of the press, was screened at a retreat for the president’s supporters at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

“There are ominous signs,” Mr. Karl said.

The violent video, concocted by right-wing provocateurs, was later disavowed by the White House. But the administration has presided over more subtle rebukes of the press.

The daily White House press briefing was once a ritual of Washington life and, viewed abroad, a potent symbol of accountability in government. In 2017, the Trump administration held about 100 formal briefings; in 2018, that number dropped by roughly half.

Two briefings took place in 2019.

The first, on Jan. 28, began with a barbed greeting from the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders — “Missed you guys,” she said dryly — and the second, on March 11, ended with shouted questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement with payoffs to a pornographic film star who had alleged an extramarital affair. Ms. Sanders referred to outside counsel and cut the queries short.

“Thanks so much, guys,” she said. No more questions.

In reality, Mr. Trump remained more directly accessible to journalists than several of his recent predecessors. He routinely fields questions during photo-ops and has made a habit of jousting with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House while the presidential helicopter whirs in the background.

But the arrangement is stacked in Mr. Trump’s favor. The noise lets him ignore questions he dislikes. And the events are entirely at Mr. Trump’s discretion, as opposed to a regular briefing where officials must answer for the news of the day.

Ms. Sanders departed the White House in June, signing on as a commentator at Fox News. Her successor, Stephanie Grisham, has yet to hold a White House briefing. For the first five and a half months of her tenure, she granted interviews only to Fox News, Fox Business and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a regional network that had required its affiliates to broadcast pro-Trump editorials. Ms. Grisham appeared on ABC and CBS for the first time in December, after Mr. Trump was impeached.

Fox News remained Mr. Trump’s news venue of choice, despite the president’s occasional carping about the channel’s insufficient loyalty. Of Mr. Trump’s roughly 70 interviews in 2019, 23 took place on Fox News, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter and the unofficial statistician of the White House press corps. (Fox Business interviewed Mr. Trump an additional four times.)

Sean Hannity, the Fox News star, interviewed the president on seven occasions. ABC, CBS, and NBC each had one interview; CNN was shut out. The Times had one formal interview with Mr. Trump, and he spoke with The Post twice. Mr. Trump’s bookings ranged widely, from C-Span to Telemundo to right-wing stalwarts like Breitbart News and The Daily Caller. He also spoke with Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host who was fired after numerous revelations of workplace harassment.

In the ratings, Fox News ended 2019 far ahead of its competition. Not only did the channel beat its cable rivals, MSNBC and CNN — it was also the highest-rated network on television outside of the traditional Big 4 broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox). Mr. Hannity’s show drew an average of 3.3 million viewers a night, making it the No. 1 program in cable news.

Mr. Smith’s abrupt exit in October shocked his colleagues and offered a glimpse at strains inside the network, where pro-Trump morning and evening programming often clashed with the sometimes critical reporting included as part of its daytime news coverage. The impeachment hearings underscored the divide, with anchors like Chris Wallace acknowledging the damaging testimony against Mr. Trump, even as Mr. Hannity dismissed the process as a “revolting charade.”

Impeachment offered some answers to a question media executives are asking themselves as a new year begins: Will a news-saturated public continue to tune into the Trump Show?

There are early signs of news fatigue. Ratings for the televised impeachment hearings were solid, but they fell short of political spectacles like James B. Comey’s testimony in 2017. Television audiences for the Democratic primary debates dwindled over the course of the year. Over all, cable news viewership was down slightly in 2019, despite all the political drama.

At one point in 2019, even Mr. Trump suggested that he might tune out the news, too. After yet another perceived slight, he conspicuously canceled the White House subscriptions to The Post and The Times.

Like many Americans, though, the president could not bear to look away. Days later, he was back to complaining about the coverage in the papers that he had claimed he would not read.

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

How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration

The overhaul of the federal tax law in 2017 was the signature legislative achievement of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

The biggest change to the tax code in three decades, the law slashed taxes for big companies, part of an effort to coax them to invest more in the United States and to discourage them from stashing profits in overseas tax havens.

Corporate executives, major investors and the wealthiest Americans hailed the tax cuts as a once-in-a-generation boon not only to their own fortunes but also to the United States economy.

But big companies wanted more — and, not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders. The tax bills of many big companies have ended up even smaller than what was anticipated when the president signed the bill.

One consequence is that the federal government may collect hundreds of billions of dollars less over the coming decade than previously projected. The budget deficit has jumped more than 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, partly as a result of the tax law.

Laws like the 2017 tax cuts are carried out by federal agencies that first must formalize them via rules and regulations. The process of writing the rules, conducted largely out of public view, can determine who wins and who loses.

Starting in early 2018, senior officials in President Trump’s Treasury Department were swarmed by lobbyists seeking to insulate companies from the few parts of the tax law that would have required them to pay more. The crush of meetings was so intense that some top Treasury officials had little time to do their jobs, according to two people familiar with the process.

The lobbyists targeted a pair of major new taxes that were supposed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from companies that had been avoiding taxes in part by claiming their profits were earned outside the United States.

The blitz was led by a cross section of the world’s largest companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Credit Suisse, General Electric, United Technologies, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, UBS, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, News Corporation, Chubb, ConocoPhillips, HSBC and the American International Group.

Thanks in part to the chaotic manner in which the bill was rushed through Congress — a situation that gave the Treasury Department extra latitude to interpret a law that was, by all accounts, sloppily written — the corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_130895553_4ce98faa-e477-440f-b670-73e9bce61508-articleLarge How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Treasury Department Taxation Tax Shelters Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Tax Credits, Deductions and Exemptions Procter&Gamble Co Mnuchin, Steven T Internal Revenue Service Income Tax Hanesbrands Inc General Electric Company Federal Taxes (US) Credit Suisse Group AG Corporate Taxes Anheuser-Busch InBev NV

A section of the Senate bill. Congress gave final approval to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 20, 2017.Credit…Jon Elswick/Associated Press

Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits, according to a review of the Treasury’s rules, government lobbying records, and interviews with federal policymakers and tax experts. Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.

“Treasury is gutting the new law,” said Bret Wells, a tax law professor at the University of Houston. “It is largely the top 1 percent that will disproportionately benefit — the wealthiest people in the world.”

It is the latest example of the benefits of the Republican tax package flowing disproportionately to the richest of the rich. Even a tax break that was supposed to aid poor communities — an initiative called “opportunity zones” — is being used in part to finance high-end developments in affluent neighborhoods, at times benefiting those with ties to the Trump administration.

Of course, companies didn’t get everything they wanted, and Brian Morgenstern, a Treasury spokesman, defended the department’s handling of the tax rules. “No particular taxpayer or group had any undue influence at any time in the process,” he said.

Ever since the birth of the modern federal income tax in 1913, companies have been concocting ways to avoid it.

In the late 1990s, American companies accelerated their efforts to claim that trillions of dollars of profits they earned in high-tax places like the United States, Japan or Germany were actually earned in low- or no-tax places like Luxembourg, Bermuda or Ireland.

Google, Apple, Cisco, Pfizer, Merck, Coca-Cola, Facebook and many others have deployed elaborate techniques that let the companies pay taxes at far less than the 35 percent corporate tax rate in the United States that existed before the 2017 changes. Their playful nicknames — like Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich — made them sound benign.

The Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties have tried to combat this profit shifting, but their efforts mostly stalled.

When President Trump and congressional Republicans assembled an enormous tax-cut package in 2017, they pitched it in part as a grand bargain: Companies would get the deep tax cuts that they had spent years clamoring for, but the law would also represent a long-overdue effort to fight corporate tax avoidance and the shipment of jobs overseas.

“The situation where companies are actually encouraged to move overseas and keep their profits overseas makes no sense,” Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said on the Senate floor in November 2017.

Republicans were racing to secure a legislative victory during Mr. Trump’s first year in office — a period marked by the administration’s failure to repeal Obamacare and an embarrassing procession of political blunders. Sweeping tax cuts could give Republicans a jolt of much-needed momentum heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

To speed things along, Republicans used a congressional process known as “budget reconciliation,” which blocked Democrats from filibustering and allowed Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. But to qualify for that parliamentary green light, the net cost of the bill — after accounting for different tax cuts and tax increases — had to be less than $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The bill’s cuts totaled $5.5 trillion. The corporate income tax rate shrank to 21 percent from 35 percent, and companies also won a tax break on the trillions in profits brought home from offshore.

To close the gap between the $5.5 trillion in cuts and the maximum price tag of $1.5 trillion, the package sought to raise new revenue by eliminating deductions and introducing new taxes.

Two of the biggest new taxes were supposed to apply to multinational corporations, and lawmakers bestowed them with easy-to-pronounce acronyms — BEAT and GILTI — that belie their complexity.

BEAT stands for the base erosion and anti-abuse tax. It was aimed largely at foreign companies with major operations in the United States, some of which had for years minimized their United States tax bills by shifting money between American subsidiaries and their foreign parent companies.

Instead of paying taxes in the United States, companies send the profits to countries with lower tax rates.

The BEAT aimed to make that less lucrative. Some payments that companies sent to their foreign affiliates would face a new 10 percent tax.

The other big measure was called GILTI: global intangible low-taxed income.

To reduce the benefit companies reaped by claiming that their profits were earned in tax havens, the law imposed an additional tax of up to 10.5 percent on some offshore earnings.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional panel that estimates the impacts of tax changes, predicted that the BEAT and GILTI would bring in $262 billion over a decade — roughly enough to fund the Treasury Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Cancer Institute for 10 years.

Sitting in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017, Mr. Trump signed the tax cuts into law. It was — and remains — the president’s most significant legislative achievement.

From the start, the new taxes were pocked with loopholes.

In the BEAT, for example, Senate Republicans hoped to avoid a revolt by large companies. They wrote the law so that any payments an American company made to a foreign affiliate for something that went into a product — as opposed to, say, interest payments on loans — were excluded from the tax.

Let’s say an American pharmaceutical company sells pills in the United States. The pills are manufactured by a subsidiary in Ireland, and the American parent pays the Irish unit for the pills before they are sold to the public. Those payments mean that the company’s profits in the United States, where taxes are relatively high, go down; profits in tax-friendly Ireland go up.

Because such payments to Ireland wouldn’t be taxed, some companies that had been the most aggressive at shifting profits into offshore havens were spared the full brunt of the BEAT.

Other companies, like General Electric, were surprised to be hit by the new tax, thinking it applied only to foreign multinationals, according to Pat Brown, who had been G.E.’s top tax expert.

Mr. Brown, now the head of international tax policy at the accounting and consulting firm PwC, said on a podcast this year that the Trump administration should bridge the gap between expectations about the tax law and how it was playing out in reality. He lobbied the Treasury on behalf of G.E.

“The question,” he said, “is how creative and how expansive is Treasury and the I.R.S. able to be.”

Almost immediately after Mr. Trump signed the bill, companies and their lobbyists — including G.E.’s Mr. Brown — began a full-court pressure campaign to try to shield themselves from the BEAT and GILTI.

The Treasury Department had to figure out how to carry out the hastily written law, which lacked crucial details.

Chip Harter was the Treasury official in charge of writing the rules for the BEAT and GILTI. He had spent decades at PwC and the law firm Baker McKenzie, counseling companies on the same sorts of tax-avoidance arrangements that the new law was supposed to discourage.

Starting in January 2018, he and his colleagues found themselves in nonstop meetings — roughly 10 a week at times — with lobbyists for companies and industry groups.

The Organization for International Investment — a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell — objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT.

The group’s lobbyists were from PwC and Baker McKenzie, Mr. Harter’s former firms, according to public lobbying disclosures. One of them, Pam Olson, was the top Treasury tax official in the George W. Bush administration. (Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said Mr. Harter didn’t meet with PwC while the rules were being written.)

This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.

One of the most effective campaigns, with the greatest financial consequence, was led by a small group of large foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays.

American regulators require international banks to ensure that their United States divisions are financially equipped to absorb big losses in a crisis. To meet those requirements, foreign banks lend the money to their American outposts. Those loans accrue interest. Under the BEAT, the interest that the American units paid to their European parents would often be taxed.

“Foreign banks should not be penalized by the U.S. tax laws for complying” with regulations, said Briget Polichene, chief executive of the Institute of International Bankers, whose members include many of the world’s largest banks.

Banks flooded the Treasury Department with lobbyists and letters.

Late last year, Mr. Harter went to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and told him about the plan to give the banks a break. Mr. Mnuchin — a longtime banking executive before joining the Trump administration — signed off on the new exemptions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A few months later, the tax-policy office handed another victory to the foreign banks, ruling that an even wider range of bank payments would be exempted.

Among the lobbyists who successfully pushed the banks’ case in private meetings with senior Treasury officials was Erika Nijenhuis of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb. Her client was the Institute of International Bankers.

In September 2019, Ms. Nijenhuis took off her lobbying hat and joined the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which was still writing the rules governing the tax law.

Some tax experts said that the Treasury had no legal authority to exempt the bank payments from the BEAT; only Congress had that power. The Trump administration created the exception “out of whole cloth,” said Mr. Wells, the University of Houston professor.

Even inside the Treasury, the ruling was controversial. Some officials told Mr. Harter — the senior official in charge of the international rules — that the department lacked the power, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Harter dismissed the objections.

Officials at the Joint Committee on Taxation have calculated that the exemptions for international banks could reduce by up to $50 billion the revenue raised by the BEAT.

Over all, the BEAT is likely to collect “a small fraction” of the $150 billion of new tax revenue that was originally projected by Congress, said Thomas Horst, who advises companies on their overseas tax arrangements. He came to that conclusion after reviewing the tax disclosures in more than 140 annual reports filed by multinationals.

Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said: “We thoroughly reviewed these issues internally and are fully comfortable that we have the legal authority for the conclusions reached in these regulations.” He said Ms. Nijenhuis was not involved in crafting the BEAT rules.

He also said the Treasury decided that changing the rules for foreign banks was appropriate.

“We were responsive to job creators,” he said.

The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense — and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions.

Back in 2017, Republicans said the GILTI was meant to prevent companies from avoiding American taxes by moving their intellectual property overseas.

In the pharmaceutical and tech industries in particular, profits are often tied to patents. Companies had sold the rights to their patents to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. The companies then imposed steep licensing fees on their American units. The sleight-of-hand transactions reduced profits in the United States and left them in places like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

But after the law was enacted, large multinationals in industries like consumer products discovered that the GILTI tax applied to them, too. That threatened to cut into their windfalls from the corporate tax rate’s falling to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Lobbyists for Procter & Gamble and other companies turned to lawmakers for help. They asked members of the Senate Finance Committee to tell Treasury officials that they hadn’t intended the GILTI to affect their industries. It was a simple but powerful strategy: Because the Treasury was required to consider congressional intent when writing the tax rules, such explanations could sway the outcome.

Several senators then met with Mr. Mnuchin to discuss the rules.

One lobbyist, Michael Caballero, had been a senior Treasury official in the Obama administration. His clients included Credit Suisse and the industrial conglomerate United Technologies. He met repeatedly with Treasury and White House officials and pushed them to modify the rules so that big companies hit by the GILTI wouldn’t lose certain tax deductions.

In essence, the “high-tax exception” that Mr. Caballero was proposing would allow companies to deduct expenses that they incurred in their overseas operations from their American profits — lowering their United States tax bills.

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon. News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception.

After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.

Two years after the tax cuts became law, their impact is becoming clear.

Companies continue to shift hundreds of billions of dollars to overseas tax havens, ensuring that huge sums of corporate profits remain out of reach of the United States government.

The Internal Revenue Service is collecting tens of billions of dollars less in corporate taxes than Congress projected, inflating the tax law’s 13-figure price tag.

This month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculated that the United States in 2018 experienced the largest drop in tax revenue of any of the group’s 36 member countries. The United States also had by far the largest budget deficit of any of those countries.

In the coming days, the Treasury is likely to complete its last round of rules carrying out the tax cuts. Big companies have spent this fall trying to win more.

In September, Chris D. Trunck, the vice president for tax at Owens Corning, the maker of insulation and roofing materials, wrote to the I.R.S. He pushed the Treasury to tinker with the GILTI rules in a way that would preserve hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits that Owens Corning had accumulated from settling claims that it poisoned employees and others with asbestos.

The same month, the underwear manufacturer Hanes sent its own letter to Mr. Mnuchin. The letter, from Bryant Purvis, Hanes’s vice president of global tax, urged Mr. Mnuchin to broaden the high-tax exception so that more companies could take advantage of it.

Otherwise, Mr. Purvis warned, “the GILTI regime will become an impediment to U.S. companies and their ability to not only compete globally as a general matter, but also their ability to remain U.S.-headquartered if they are to maintain the overall fiscal health of their business.”

The implied threat was clear: If the Treasury didn’t further chip away at the new tax, companies like Hanes, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., might have no choice but to move their headquarters overseas.

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The Stock Market Is Booming, but Democrats Say, Look Who’s Been Left Out

Westlake Legal Group 29dems1-facebookJumbo The Stock Market Is Booming, but Democrats Say, Look Who’s Been Left Out Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 DES MOINES, Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

DES MOINES — On paper, Esther Mabior should be fine. She has a degree from Iowa State University, where she majored in economics, and lives in a city where her chosen profession, the insurance business, employs thousands of people.

But Ms. Mabior, 26, can’t find a job as an insurance adjuster. And she says her own experience is a lot like the stock market highs and the ever-expanding gross domestic product she keeps hearing about: It all looks good on the surface, but deeper down things aren’t so rosy.

“There may be people doing well,” Ms. Mabior said after attending an event for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Des Moines over the weekend, calling herself “living proof” that as far as the economy is concerned, “it’s not that great.”

The stock market is days away from closing out what is likely to be its best year in two decades. The unemployment rate, now at 3.5 percent, has been at 4 percent or lower for almost two years. Employers continue to add jobs in large numbers, with the country now in its 11th year of economic expansion.

But as President Trump makes his case to Americans that he deserves a second term — in part by taking credit for the economy’s continued resilience — the Democrats vying to replace him are making the case that a very different reality exists for many Americans who have not seen much improvement in their own bottom lines.

In Iowa and other early voting states, the Democratic presidential candidates have been underscoring those disparities with each new economic report, hoping to blunt a centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s re-election message. And as they sought to build momentum on the last weekend before the new year, they mixed empathetic stories about struggling working-class families with pointed attacks on Mr. Trump, whom they accused of pursuing policies that disproportionately help the wealthy and do nothing to close the yawning income inequality gap.

At an event in Knoxville on Sunday, for instance, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said that top-line economic numbers increasingly failed to reflect the experience of many Americans. “It’s nice to see that the Dow Jones is doing well,” he told the crowd, who had packed into a roller skating rink to see him. “But more and more Americans find that we’re fighting like hell just to hold onto what we’ve got.”

During multiple events, in Iowa and New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. rejected the idea that the strong economy was lifting everyone. He took aim in particular at one of Mr. Trump’s greatest wells of support: white working-class Americans, who were once a bedrock of the Democratic Party but who are now helping Mr. Trump remain competitive in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“An awful lot of people — middle-class folks — are in real trouble, and they’re not at all certain about their future,” Mr. Biden said in Fairfield, Iowa, on Saturday. “So the idea that everybody’s doing well is just simply not true. The very, very wealthy are doing very, very well, but the rest are scraping along.”

At an event on Sunday in Peterborough, N.H., he acknowledged that the economy was “growing” and unemployment was “incredibly low.” But, he said, “There’s no rational distribution of the growth in terms of increases in income and other things.”

One consistent theme at campaign events is that wages are not rising enough to offset the increasing costs of living, including for health care and education. Another is that with a strong economy, workers should be sharing more of the gains.

“Are your wages going up?” a volunteer for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign asked the audience as she introduced the candidate in Clarinda, a small town in southwestern Iowa.

When she took the stage herself, Ms. Warren of Massachusetts argued that the economic recovery had failed to touch the most marginalized communities or rural areas.

“Why is America’s middle class being hollowed out?” she asked. “And the answer is in who our government in Washington works for.”

The economic arguments are resonating, in Iowa and elsewhere, with voters like Max Goldman, a 53-year-old technology consultant from Kansas City, Iowa. Mr. Goldman, who traveled to Ms. Warren’s event in Clarinda, said he wished Democrats talked more about the federal deficit. But he said he did not credit Mr. Trump with the improving economy, and thinks other voters — even moderates — might feel the same way.

“Every president will take credit for the economy,” Mr. Goldman said. “But the stock market is not the economy, and the wages argument she’s making is a good one.”

Kyle Hunt, a 40-year-old loan officer from Clive, a Des Moines suburb, said at Mr. Buttigieg’s event on Sunday in Knoxville that the economy where he lived seemed to be “working fine” because there were job opportunities. But he said he had also noticed recently that more people, especially minorities and women, were borrowing more money, including to pay for rent.

“I definitely see people that it’s not working for,” he said.

Mike Rowold, 72, a crop insurance adjuster who attended a town hall-style event that Mr. Biden held at a high school in Tipton, Iowa, on Saturday, said most people there were “not concerned about the stock market in any way, shape or form.”

“That economy is a false bubble,” he said.

Mr. Rowold, who said he would support Mr. Biden in the caucuses, faulted the Trump administration’s trade policies for hurting farmers in Iowa.

“Very few of these guys are actually investing any of their money into the stock market,” he said of the farmers. “They’re hanging onto the farms that they have right now.”

Ms. Mabior, the out-of-work insurance adjuster, said she has not yet decided which if any of the Democratic candidates she would support. Asked whether Mr. Trump’s celebration of the booming stock market and G.D.P. growth meant anything to her, she said most economic indicators had become irrelevant: Iowa, she pointed out, has among the lowest unemployment rates in the nation: 2.6 percent.

And yet somehow, she finds herself included in that figure: “Can you believe it?” she said.

Jeremy W. Peters reported from Des Moines, and Sydney Ember from Knoxville, Iowa. Astead W. Herndon contributed reporting from Clarinda, Iowa, and Thomas Kaplan from Peterborough, N.H.

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Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-omb1-facebookJumbo Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion Zelensky, Volodymyr Vought, Russell T Volker, Kurt D United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Taylor, William B Jr State Department Sondland, Gordon D (1957- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Portman, Rob Pompeo, Mike Pence, Mike Office of Management and Budget (US) National Security Council Mulvaney, Mick Johnson, Ron (1955- ) Hill, Fiona (1965- ) Giuliani, Rudolph W Duffey, Michael Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Cipollone, Pat A Bolton, John R Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — Deep into a long flight to Japan aboard Air Force One with President Trump, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, dashed off an email to an aide back in Washington.

“I’m just trying to tie up some loose ends,” Mr. Mulvaney wrote. “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?”

It was June 27, more than a week after Mr. Trump had first asked about putting a hold on security aid to Ukraine, an embattled American ally, and Mr. Mulvaney needed an answer.

The aide, Robert B. Blair, replied that it would be possible, but not pretty. “Expect Congress to become unhinged” if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by the House and Senate, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email. And, he wrote, it might further fuel the narrative that Mr. Trump was pro-Russia.

Mr. Blair was right, even if his prediction of a messy outcome was wildly understated. Mr. Trump’s order to hold $391 million worth of sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, night vision goggles, medical aid and other equipment the Ukrainian military needed to fight a grinding war against Russian-backed separatists would help pave a path to the president’s impeachment.

The Democratic-led inquiry into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine this spring and summer established that the president was actively involved in parallel efforts — both secretive and highly unusual — to bring pressure on a country he viewed with suspicion, if not disdain.

One campaign, spearheaded by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, aimed to force Ukraine to conduct investigations that could help Mr. Trump politically, including one focused on a potential Democratic 2020 rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The other, which unfolded nearly simultaneously but has gotten less attention, was the president’s demand to withhold the security assistance. By late summer, the two efforts merged as American diplomats used the withheld aid as leverage in the effort to win a public commitment from the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to carry out the investigations Mr. Trump sought into Mr. Biden and unfounded or overblown theories about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 election.

Interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials, congressional aides and others, previously undisclosed emails and documents, and a close reading of thousands of pages of impeachment testimony provide the most complete account yet of the 84 days from when Mr. Trump first inquired about the money to his decision in September to relent.

What emerges is the story of how Mr. Trump’s demands sent shock waves through the White House and the Pentagon, created deep rifts within the senior ranks of his administration, left key aides like Mr. Mulvaney under intensifying scrutiny — and ended only after Mr. Trump learned of a damning whistle-blower report and came under pressure from influential Republican lawmakers.

In many ways, the havoc Mr. Giuliani and other Trump loyalists set off in the State Department by pursuing the investigations was matched by conflicts and confusion in the White House and Pentagon stemming from Mr. Trump’s order to withhold the aid.

Opposition to the order from his top national security advisers was more intense than previously known. In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the president where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in interests of the United States.

By late summer, top lawyers at the Office of Management and Budget who had spoken to lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department in the weeks beforehand, were developing an argument — not previously divulged publicly — that Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief would simply allow him to override Congress on the issue.

And Mr. Mulvaney is shown to have been deeply involved as a key conduit for transmitting Mr. Trump’s demands for the freeze across the administration.

The interviews and documents show how Mr. Trump used the bureaucracy to advance his agenda in the face of questions about its propriety and even legality from officials in the White House budget office and the Pentagon, many of whom say they were kept in the dark about the president’s motivations and had grown used to convention-flouting requests from the West Wing. One veteran budget official who raised questions about the legal justification was pushed aside.

Those carrying out Mr. Trump’s orders on the aid were for the most part operating in different lanes from those seeking the investigations, including Mr. Giuliani and a number of senior diplomats, including Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine and Russia.

The New York Times found that some key players are now offering a defense that they did not know the diplomatic push for the investigations was playing out at the same time they were implementing the aid freeze — or if they were aware of both channels, they did not connect the two.

Mr. Mulvaney is said by associates to have stepped out of the room whenever Mr. Trump would talk with Mr. Giuliani to preserve Mr. Trump’s attorney-client privilege, leaving him with limited knowledge about their efforts regarding Ukraine. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he learned of the substance of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call weeks after the fact.

Yet testimony before the House suggests a different picture. Fiona Hill, a top deputy to Mr. Bolton at the time, told the impeachment inquiry about a July 10 White House meeting at which Mr. Sondland said Mr. Mulvaney had guaranteed that Mr. Zelensky would be invited to the White House if the Ukrainians agreed to the investigations — an arrangement that Mr. Bolton described as a “drug deal,” according to Ms. Hill.

Along with Mr. Bolton and others, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Blair have declined to cooperate with impeachment investigators and provide information to Congress under oath, an intensifying point of friction between the two parties as the Senate prepares for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.

At the center of the maelstrom was the Office of Management and Budget, a seldom-scrutinized arm of the White House that during the Trump administration has often had to find creative legal reasoning to justify the president’s unorthodox policy proposals, like his demand to divert Pentagon funding to his proposed wall along the border with Mexico.

In the Ukraine case, however, shock about the president’s decision spread across America’s national security apparatus — from the National Security Council to the State Department and the Pentagon. By September, after the freeze had become public and scrutiny was increasing, the blame game inside the administration was in full swing.

On Sept. 10, the day before Mr. Trump changed his mind, a political appointee at the budget office, Michael P. Duffey, wrote a lengthy email to the Pentagon’s top budget official, with whom he had been at odds throughout the summer about how long the agency could withhold the aid.

He asserted that the Defense Department had the authority to do more to ensure that the aid could be released to Ukraine by the congressionally mandated deadline of the end of that month, suggesting that responsibility for any failure should not rest with the White House.

Forty-three minutes later, the Pentagon official, Elaine McCusker, hit send on a brief but stinging reply.

“You can’t be serious,” she wrote. “I am speechless.”

For top officials inside the budget office, the first warning came on June 19.

Informed that the president had a problem with the aid, Mr. Blair called Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget. “We need to hold it up,” he said, according to officials briefed about the conversation.

Typical of the Trump White House, the inquiry was not born of a rigorous policy process. Aides speculated that someone had shown Mr. Trump a news article about the Ukraine assistance and he demanded to know more.

Mr. Vought and his team took to Google, and came upon a piece in the conservative Washington Examiner saying that the Pentagon would pay for weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine, bringing American security aid to the country to $1.5 billion since 2014.

The money, the article noted, was coming at a critical moment: Mr. Zelensky, a onetime comedian, had called ending the armed conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine his top priority — a move that would likely only happen if he could negotiate from a position of strength.

The budget office officials had little idea of why Mr. Trump was interested in the topic, but many of the president’s more senior aides were well aware of his feelings about Ukraine. Weeks earlier, in an Oval Office meeting on May 23, with Mr. Sondland, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Blair in attendance, Mr. Trump batted away assurances that Mr. Zelensky was committed to confronting corruption.

“They are all corrupt, they are all terrible people,” Mr. Trump said, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The United States had been planning to provide $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine in two chunks: $250 million allocated by the Pentagon for war-fighting equipment — from sniper rifles to rocket-propelled grenade launchers — and $141 million controlled by the State Department to buy night-vision devices, radar systems and yet more rocket-grenade launchers.

With the money having been appropriated by Congress, it would be hard for the administration to keep it from being spent by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The task of dealing with the president’s demands fell primarily to a group of political appointees in the West Wing and the budget office, most with personal and professional ties to Mr. Mulvaney. There was no public announcement that Mr. Trump wanted the assistance withheld. Neither Congress nor the Ukrainian government was formally notified.

Mr. Mulvaney had first served in the administration as the budget director, after three terms in the House, where he earned a reputation as a firebrand conservative.

The four top political appointees helping Mr. Mulvaney execute the hold — Mr. Vought, Mr. Blair, Mr. Duffey and Mark Paoletta, the budget office’s top lawyer — all had extensive experience in either congressional budget politics or Republican and conservative causes.

Their efforts would cause tension and at times conflict between officials at the budget office and the Pentagon, some of whom watched with growing alarm.

The single largest chunk of the federal government’s annual discretionary budget, some $800 billion a year, goes to the Pentagon, spy agencies and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The career official in charge of managing the flow of all that money for the budget office is an Afghanistan war veteran named Mark Sandy.

After learning about the president’s June 19 request, Mr. Sandy contacted the Pentagon to learn more about the aid package. He also repeatedly pressed Mr. Duffey about why Mr. Trump had imposed the hold in the first place.

“He didn’t provide an explicit response on the reason,” Mr. Sandy testified in the impeachment inquiry. “He simply said we need to let the hold take place — and I’m paraphrasing here — and then revisit this issue with the president.”

From the start, budget office officials took the position that the money did not have to go out the door until the end of September, giving them time to address the president’s questions.

It was easy enough for the White House to hold up the State Department portion of the funding. Since the State Department had not yet notified Congress of its plans to release the money, all it took was making sure that the notification did not happen.

Freezing the Pentagon’s $250 million portion was more difficult, since the Pentagon had already certified that Ukraine had met requirements set by Congress to show that it was addressing its endemic corruption and notified lawmakers of its intent to spend the money.

So on July 19, Mr. Duffey proposed an unusual solution: Mr. Sandy should attach a footnote to a routine budget document saying the money was being temporarily withheld.

Approving such requests is routine; Mr. Sandy processed hundreds each year. But attaching a footnote to block spending that the administration had already notified Congress was ready to go was not. Mr. Sandy said in testimony that he had never done it before in his 12 years at the agency.

And there was a problem with this maneuver: Mr. Sandy was concerned it might violate a law called the Impoundment Control Act that protects Congress’s spending power and prohibits the administration from blocking disbursement of the aid unless it notifies Congress.

“I asked about the duration of the hold and was told there was not clear guidance on that,” Mr. Sandy testified. “So that is what prompted my concern.”

Mr. Sandy sought advice from the top lawyers at the budget office.

For a full month, the fact that Mr. Trump wanted to halt the aid remained confined primarily to a small group of officials.

That ended on July 18, when a group of top administration officials meeting on Ukraine policy — including some calling in from Kyiv — learned from a midlevel budget office official that the president had ordered the aid frozen.

“I and the others on the call sat in astonishment,” William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, testified to House investigators. “In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened.”

That same day, aides on the House Foreign Affairs Committee received four calls from administration sources warning them about the hold and urging them to look into it.

A week later came Mr. Trump’s fateful July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Bolton, the national security adviser, had recommended the call take place in an effort to end the “incessant lobbying” from officials like Mr. Sondland that the two leaders connect.

Some of Mr. Trump’s aides had thought the call might lead Mr. Trump to lift the freeze. But Mr. Trump did not specifically mention the hold, and instead asked Mr. Zelensky to look into Mr. Biden and his son and into supposed Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election. Among those listening on the call was Mr. Blair.

Mr. Blair has told associates he did not make much of Mr. Trump’s requests during the call for the investigations. He saw the aid freeze not as a political tool, but as an extension of Mr. Trump’s general aversion to foreign aid and his belief that Ukraine is rife with corruption.

Just 90 minutes after the call ended, and following days of email traffic on the topic, Mr. Duffey, Mr. Sandy’s boss, sent out a new email to the Pentagon, where officials were impatient about getting the money out the door. His message was clear: Do not spend it.

“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction,” Mr. Duffey wrote in his note, which was released this month to the Center for Public Integrity.

This caused immediate discomfort at the Pentagon, with a top official there noting that this hold on military assistance was coming on the same day Ukraine announced it had seized a Russian tanker — a potential escalation in the conflict between the two nations.

On that same day, Mr. Sandy, having received the go-ahead from the budget office’s lawyers, took the first official step to legally impose what they called a “brief pause,” inserting a footnote into the budget document that prohibited the Pentagon from spending any of the aid until Aug. 5.

By that point, officials in Ukraine were getting word that something was up. At the same time, the effort to win a commitment from the Ukrainians for the investigations sought by Mr. Trump was intensifying, with Mr. Giuliani and a Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, meeting in Madrid on Aug. 2 and the diplomats Mr. Sondland and Mr. Volker also working the issue.

And inside the intelligence community, a C.I.A. officer was hearing talk about the two strands of pressure on Ukraine, including the aid freeze. Seeing how they fit together, he was alarmed enough that by Aug. 12 he would take the extraordinary step of laying them out in detail in a confidential whistle-blower complaint.

Keeping a hold on the assistance was now a top priority, so officials moved to tighten control over the money.

In a very unusual step, the White House removed Mr. Sandy’s authority to oversee the aid freeze. The job was handed in late July to Mr. Sandy’s boss, Mr. Duffey, the political appointee, the official ultimately responsible for apportionments but one who had little experience in the nuts and bolts of the budget office process.

As the debate over the aid continued, disagreements flared. Two budget office staff members left the agency after the summer. Mr. Sandy testified that their departures were related to the aid freeze, a statement disputed by budget office officials.

Pentagon officials, in the dark about the reason for the holdup, grew increasingly frustrated. Ms. McCusker, the powerful Pentagon budget official, notified the budget office that either $61 million of the money would have to be spent by Monday, Aug. 12 or it would be lost. The budget office saw her threat as a ploy to force release of the aid.

At the White House, which had been looped into the dispute by the budget office, there was a growing consensus that officials could find a legal rationale for continuing the hold, but with the Monday deadline looming, it was a “POTUS-level decision,” one official said.

Complicating matters, another budget battle was escalating. Mr. Vought was attempting to impose cuts of as much as $4 billion on the nation’s overall foreign aid budget. It was an entirely separate initiative from the Ukraine freeze, and was quickly abandoned, but helped the White House establish that its concern about aid was not limited to Ukraine.

By the second week of August, Mr. Duffey had taken to issuing footnotes every few days to block the Pentagon spending. Office of Management and Budget lawyers approved each one.

Mr. Trump spent the weekend before the Pentagon’s Aug. 12 deadline at Bedminster, his New Jersey golf resort.

In a previously unreported sequence of events, Mr. Mulvaney worked to schedule a call for that day with Mr. Trump and top aides involved in the freeze, including Mr. Vought, Mr. Bolton and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. But they waited to set a final time because Mr. Trump had a golf game planned for Monday morning with John Daly, the flamboyant professional golfer, and they did not know how long it would take.

Late that morning, Ms. McCusker checked in with the budget office. “Hey, any update for us?” she asked in an email obtained by Center for Public Integrity.

Mr. Duffey was still waiting for an answer as of late that afternoon. “Elaine — I don’t have an update,” he wrote back. “I am attempting to get one.”

The planned-for conference call with the president never happened. Budget office lawyers decided that Ms. McCusker had inaccurately raised alarms about the Aug. 12 date to try to force their hand.

In Bedminster with Mr. Trump, Mr. Mulvaney finally reached the president and the answer was clear: Mr. Trump wanted the freeze kept in place. In Washington, the whistle-blower submitted his report that same day.

Inside the administration, pressure was mounting on Mr. Trump to reverse himself.

Backed by a memo saying the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department all wanted the aid released, Mr. Bolton made a personal appeal to Mr. Trump on Aug. 16, but was rebuffed.

On Aug. 28, Politico published a story reporting that the assistance to Ukraine had been frozen. After more than two months, the issue, the topic of fiery internal debate, was finally public.

Mr. Bolton’s relationship with the president had been deteriorating for months, and he would leave the White House weeks later, but on this front he had powerful internal allies.

On a sunny, late-August day, Mr. Bolton, Mr. Esper and Mr. Pompeo arrayed themselves around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office to present a united front, the leaders of the president’s national security team seeking to convince him face to face that freeing up the money for Ukraine was the right thing to do. One by one they made their case.

“This is in America’s interest,” Mr. Bolton argued, according to one official briefed on the gathering.

“This defense relationship, we have gotten some really good benefits from it,” Mr. Esper added, noting that most of the money was being spent on military equipment made in the United States.

Mr. Trump responded that he did not believe Mr. Zelensky’s promises of reform. He emphasized his view that corruption remained endemic and repeated his position that European nations needed to do more for European defense.

“Ukraine is a corrupt country,” the president said. “We are pissing away our money.”

The aid remained blocked. On Aug. 31, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, arranged a call with Mr. Trump. Mr. Johnson had been told days earlier by Mr. Sondland that the aid would be unblocked only if the Ukrainians gave Mr. Trump the investigations he wanted.

When Mr. Johnson asked Mr. Trump directly if the aid was contingent on getting a commitment to pursue the investigations, Mr. Johnson later said, Mr. Trump replied, amid a string of expletives, that there was no such demand and he would never do such a thing.

Around the same time, White House lawyers informed Mr. Trump about the whistle-blower’s complaint regarding his pressure campaign. It is not clear how much detail the lawyers provided the president about the details of the complaint, which noted the aid freeze.

Mr. Trump was scheduled to travel to Poland on Sept. 1 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and had planned to get together with Mr. Zelensky. Some administration officials hoped meeting the new Ukrainian president in person would change Mr. Trump’s mind.

But a hurricane was bearing down on the United States, and Mr. Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place. When Mr. Zelensky raised the issue with the vice president, Mr. Pence said he should speak with Mr. Trump.

Behind the scenes in Warsaw, Mr. Sondland, the American envoy who was Mr. Trump’s point person on getting the Ukrainians to agree to the investigations, had a blunter message. Until the Ukrainians publicly announced the investigations, he told Mr. Yermak, the Zelensky adviser, they should not expect to get the military aid. (Mr. Yermak has questioned Mr. Sondland’s account.)

By late summer, top lawyers at the budget office were developing a proposed legal justification for the hold, based in part on conversations with White House lawyers as well as the Justice Department.

Their argument was that lifting the hold would undermine Mr. Trump’s negotiating position in his efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine.

The president, the lawyers believed, could ignore the requirements of the Impoundment Control Act and continue to hold the aid by asserting constitutional commander in chief powers that give him authority over diplomacy. He could do so, they believed, if he determined that, based on existing circumstances, releasing the money would undermine military or diplomatic efforts.

But divisions within the administration continued to widen; Mr. Bolton was opposed to using an argument proffered by administration lawyers to block the funding. And pressure from Congress was intensifying. Mr. Johnson and another influential Republican, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, were both pushing for the aid to be released.

On a call with Mr. Portman on Sept. 11, Mr. Trump repeated his familiar refrain about other nations not doing enough to support Ukraine.

“Sure, I agree with you,” Mr. Portman responded, according to an aide who described the exchange. “But we should not hold that against Ukraine. We need to release these funds.”

Democrats in the House were gearing up to limit Mr. Trump’s power to hold up the money to Ukraine, and the chairmen of three House committees had also announced on Sept. 9 that they were opening an investigation.

Still, White House officials did not expect anything to change, especially since Mr. Trump had repeatedly rejected the advice of his national security team.

But then, just as suddenly as the hold was imposed, it was lifted. Mr. Trump, apparently unwilling to wage a public battle, told Mr. Portman he would let the money go.

White House aides rushed to notify their counterparts at the Pentagon and elsewhere. The freeze had been lifted. The money could be spent. Get it out the door, they were told.

The debate would now begin as to why the hold was lifted, with Democrats confident they knew the answer.

“I have no doubt about why the president allowed the assistance to go forward,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “He got caught.”

Adam Goldman, Edward Wong and Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

WASHINGTON — In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

“The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”

Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.

Among them is Matthew Davis, a biologist whose research on the health risks of mercury to children underpinned the first rules cutting mercury emissions from coal power plants. But last year, with a new baby of his own, he was asked to help support a rollback of those same rules. “I am now part of defending this darker, dirtier future,” he said.

This year, after a decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Davis left.

“Regulations come and go, but the thinning out of scientific capacity in the government will take a long time to get back,” said Joel Clement, a former top climate-policy expert at the Interior Department who quit in 2017 after being reassigned to a job collecting oil and gas royalties. He is now at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.

Mr. Trump has consistently said that government regulations have stifled businesses and thwarted some of the administration’s core goals, such as increasing fossil-fuel production. Many of the starkest confrontations with federal scientists have involved issues like environmental oversight and energy extraction — areas where industry groups have argued that regulators have gone too far in the past.

“Businesses are finally being freed of Washington’s overreach, and the American economy is flourishing as a result,” a White House statement said last year. Asked about the role of science in policymaking, officials from the White House declined to comment on the record.

The administration’s efforts to cut certain research projects also reflect a longstanding conservative position that some scientific work can be performed cost-effectively by the private sector, and taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill. “Eliminating wasteful spending, some of which has nothing to do with studying the science at all, is smart management, not an attack on science,” two analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in 2017 of the administration’s proposals to eliminate various climate change and clean energy programs.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00CLI-SCIENCE-dorian-articleLarge Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Science and Technology Research Regulation and Deregulation of Industry national institutes of health National Academies of the United States Justice Department Interior Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Government Employees Global Warming Food and Drug Administration Environmental Protection Agency environment Commerce Department

The president’s desk.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Industry groups have expressed support for some of the moves, including a contentious E.P.A. proposal to put new constraints on the use of scientific studies in the name of transparency. The American Chemistry Council, a chemical trade group, praised the proposal by saying, “The goal of providing more transparency in government and using the best available science in the regulatory process should be ideals we all embrace.”

In some cases, the administration’s efforts to roll back government science have been thwarted. Each year, Mr. Trump has proposed sweeping budget cuts at a variety of federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. But Congress has the final say over budget levels and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have rejected the cuts.

For instance, in supporting funding for the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, recently said, “it allows us to take advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research.”

As a result, many science programs continue to thrive, including space exploration at NASA and medical research at the National Institutes of Health, where the budget has increased more than 12 percent since Mr. Trump took office and where researchers continue to make advances in areas like molecular biology and genetics.

Nevertheless, in other areas, the administration has managed to chip away at federal science.

At the E.P.A., for instance, staffing has fallen to its lowest levels in at least a decade. More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of federal scientists across 16 agencies said that hiring freezes and departures made it harder to conduct scientific work. And in June, the White House ordered agencies to cut by one-third the number of federal advisory boards that provide technical advice.

The White House said it aimed to eliminate committees that were no longer necessary. Panels cut so far had focused on issues including invasive species and electric grid innovation.

At a time when the United States is pulling back from world leadership in other areas like human rights or diplomatic accords, experts warn that the retreat from science is no less significant. Many of the achievements of the past century that helped make the United States an envied global power, including gains in life expectancy, lowered air pollution and increased farm productivity are the result of the kinds of government research now under pressure.

“When we decapitate the government’s ability to use science in a professional way, that increases the risk that we start making bad decisions, that we start missing new public health risks,” said Wendy E. Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin who studies the use of science by policymakers.

Skirmishes over the use of science in making policy occur in all administrations: Industries routinely push back against health studies that could justify stricter pollution rules, for example. And scientists often gripe about inadequate budgets for their work. But many experts say that current efforts to challenge research findings go well beyond what has been done previously.

In an article published in the journal Science last year, Ms. Wagner wrote that some of the Trump administration’s moves, like a policy to restrict certain academics from the E.P.A.’s Science Advisory Board or the proposal to limit the types of research that can be considered by environmental regulators, “mark a sharp departure with the past.” Rather than isolated battles between political officials and career experts, she said, these moves are an attempt to legally constrain how federal agencies use science in the first place.

Some clashes with scientists have sparked public backlash, as when Trump officials pressured the nation’s weather forecasting agency to support the president’s erroneous assertion this year that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

But others have garnered little notice despite their significance.

This year, for instance, the National Park Service’s principle climate change scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, received a “cease and desist” letter from supervisors after testifying to Congress about the risks that global warming posed to national parks.

“I saw it as attempted intimidation,” said Dr. Gonzalez, who added that he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University California, Berkeley, a position he also holds. “It’s interference with science and hinders our work.”

Even though Congress hasn’t gone along with Mr. Trump’s proposals for budget cuts at scientific agencies, the administration has still found ways to advance its goals.

One strategy: eliminate individual research projects not explicitly protected by Congress.

For example, just months after Mr. Trump’s election, the Commerce Department disbanded a 15-person scientific committee that had explored how to make National Climate Assessments, the congressionally mandated studies of the risks of climate change, more useful to local officials. It also closed its Office of the Chief Economist, which for decades had conducted wide-ranging research on topics like the economic effects of natural disasters. Similarly, the Interior Department has withdrawn funding for its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, 22 regional research centers that tackled issues like habitat loss and wildfire management. While California and Alaska used state money to keep their centers open, 16 of 22 remain in limbo.

A Commerce Department official said the climate committee it discontinued had not produced a report, and highlighted other efforts to promote science, such as a major upgrade of the nation’s weather models.

An Interior Department official said the agency’s decisions “are solely based on the facts and grounded in the law,” and that the agency would continue to pursue other partnerships to advance conservation science.

Research that potentially posed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s promise to expand fossil-fuel production was halted, too. In 2017, Interior officials canceled a $1 million study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the health risks of “mountaintop removal” coal mining in places like West Virginia.

Mountaintop removal is as dramatic as it sounds — a hillside is blasted with explosives and the remains are excavated — but the health consequences still aren’t fully understood. The process can kick up coal dust and send heavy metals into waterways, and a number of studies have suggested links to health problems like kidney disease and birth defects.

“The industry was pushing back on these studies,” said Joseph Pizarchik, an Obama-era mining regulator who commissioned the now-defunct study. “We didn’t know what the answer would be,” he said, “but we needed to know: Was the government permitting coal mining that was poisoning people, or not?”

While coal mining has declined in recent years, satellite data shows that at least 60 square miles in Appalachia have been newly mined since 2016. “The study is still as important today as it was five years ago,” Mr. Pizarchik said.

The cuts can add up to significant research setbacks.

For years, the E.P.A. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences had jointly funded 13 children’s health centers nationwide that studied, among other things, the effects of pollution on children’s development. This year, the E.P.A. ended its funding.

At the University of California, San Francisco, one such center has been studying how industrial chemicals such as flame retardants in furniture could affect placenta and fetal development. Key aspects of the research have now stopped.

“The longer we go without funding, the harder it is to start that research back up,” said Tracey Woodruff, who directs the center.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said it anticipated future opportunities to fund children’s health research.

At the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced in June he would relocate two key research agencies to Kansas City from Washington: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a scientific agency that funds university research on topics like how to breed cattle and corn that can better tolerate drought conditions, and the Economic Research Service, whose economists produce studies for policymakers on farming trends, trade and rural America.

Nearly 600 employees had less than four months to decide whether to uproot and move. Most couldn’t or wouldn’t, and two-thirds of those facing transfer left their jobs.

In August, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, appeared to celebrate the departures.

“It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” he said in videotaped remarks at a Republican Party gala in South Carolina. “But by simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Mulvaney’s speech.

The exodus has led to upheaval.

At the Economic Research Service, dozens of planned studies into topics like dairy industry consolidation and pesticide use have been delayed or disrupted. “You can name any topic in agriculture and we’ve lost an expert,” said Laura Dodson, an economist and acting vice president of the union representing agency employees.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture manages $1.7 billion in grants that fund research on issues like food safety or techniques that help farmers improve their productivity. The staff loss, employees say, has held up hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, such as planned research into pests and diseases afflicting grapes, sweet potatoes and fruit trees.

Former employees say they remain skeptical that the agencies could be repaired quickly. “It will take 5 to 10 years to rebuild,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, who until 2018 directed the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Perdue said the moves would save money and put the offices closer to farmers. “We did not undertake these relocations lightly,” he said in a statement. A Department of Agriculture official added that both agencies were pushing to continue their work, but acknowledged that some grants could be delayed by months.

In addition to shutting down some programs, there have been notable instances where the administration has challenged established scientific research. Early on, as it started rolling back regulations on industry, administration officials began questioning research findings underpinning those regulations.

In 2017, aides to Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator at the time, told the agency’s economists to redo an analysis of wetlands protections that had been used to help defend an Obama-era clean-water rule. Instead of concluding that the protections would provide more than $500 million in economic benefits, they were told to list the benefits as unquantifiable, according to Elizabeth Southerland, who retired in 2017 from a 30-year career at the E.P.A., finishing as a senior official in its water office.

“It’s not unusual for a new administration to come in and change policy direction,” Dr. Southerland said. “But typically you would look for new studies and carefully redo the analysis. Instead they were sending a message that all the economists, scientists, career staff in the agency were irrelevant.”

Internal documents show that political officials at the E.P.A. have overruled the agency’s career experts on several occasions, including in a move to regulate asbestos more lightly, in a decision not to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos and in a determination that parts of Wisconsin were in compliance with smog standards. The Interior Department sidelined its own legal and environmental analyses in advancing a proposal to raise the Shasta Dam in California.

Michael Abboud, an E.P.A. spokesman, disputed Dr. Southerland’s account in an emailed response, saying “It is not true.”

The E.P.A. is now finalizing a narrower version of the Obama-era water rule, which in its earlier form had prompted outrage from thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country who saw it as overly restrictive.

“E.P.A. under President Trump has worked to put forward the strongest regulations to protect human health and the environment,” Mr. Abboud said, noting that several Obama administration rules had been held up in court and needed revision. “As required by law E.P.A. has always and will continue to use the best available science when developing rules, regardless of the claims of a few federal employees.”

Past administrations have, to varying degrees, disregarded scientific findings that conflicted with their priorities. In 2011, President Obama’s top health official overruled experts at the Food and Drug Administration who had concluded that over-the-counter emergency contraceptives were safe for minors.

But in the Trump administration, the scope is wider. Many top government positions, including at the E.P.A. and the Interior Department, are now occupied by former lobbyists connected to the industries that those agencies oversee.

Scientists and health experts have singled out two moves they find particularly concerning. Since 2017, the E.P.A. has moved to restrict certain academics from sitting on its Science Advisory Board, which provides scrutiny of agency science, and has instead increased the number of appointees connected with industry.

And, in a potentially far-reaching move, the E.P.A. has proposed a rule to limit regulators from using scientific research unless the underlying raw data can be made public. Industry groups like the Chamber of Commerce have argued that some agency rules are based on science that can’t be fully scrutinized by outsiders. But dozens of scientific organizations have warned that the proposal in its current form could prevent the E.P.A. from considering a vast array of research on issues like the dangers of air pollution if, for instance, they are based on confidential health data.

“The problem is that rather than allowing agency scientists to use their judgment and weigh the best available evidence, this could put political constraints on how science enters the decision-making process in the first place,” said Ms. Wagner, the University of Texas law professor.

The E.P.A. says its proposed rule is intended to make the science that underpins potentially costly regulations more transparent. “By requiring transparency,” said Mr. Abboud, the agency spokesman, “scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review.”

“In the past, when we had an administration that was not very pro-environment, we could still just lay low and do our work,” said Betsy Smith, a climate scientist with more than 20 years of experience at the E.P.A. who in 2017 saw her long-running study of the effects of climate change on major ports get canceled.

“Now we feel like the E.P.A. is being run by the fossil fuel industry,” she said. “It feels like a wholesale attack.”

After her project was killed, Dr. Smith resigned.

The loss of experienced scientists can erase years or decades of “institutional memory,” said Robert J. Kavlock, a toxicologist who retired in October 2017 after working at the E.P.A. for 40 years, most recently as acting assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Research and Development.

His former office, which researches topics like air pollution and chemical testing, has lost 250 scientists and technical staff members since Mr. Trump came to office, while hiring 124. Those who have remained in the office of roughly 1,500 people continue to do their work, Dr. Kavlock said, but are not going out of their way to promote findings on lightning-rod topics like climate change.

“You can see that they’re trying not to ruffle any feathers,” Dr. Kavlock said.

The same can’t be said of Patrick Gonzalez, the National Park Service’s principle climate change scientist, whose work involves helping national parks protect against damages from rising temperatures.

In February, Dr. Gonzalez testified before Congress about the risks of global warming, saying he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also using his Berkeley affiliation to participate as a co-author on a coming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that synthesizes climate science for world leaders.

But in March, shortly after testifying, Dr. Gonzalez’s supervisor at the National Park Service sent the cease-and-desist letter warning him that his Berkeley affiliation was not separate from his government work and that his actions were violating agency policy. Dr. Gonzalez said he viewed the letter as an attempt to deter him from speaking out.

The Interior Department, asked to comment, said the letter did not indicate an intent to sanction Dr. Gonzalez and that he was free to speak as a private citizen.

Dr. Gonzalez, with the support of Berkeley, continues to warn about the dangers of climate change and work with the United Nations climate change panel using his vacation time, and he spoke again to Congress in June. “I’d like to provide a positive example for other scientists,” he said.

Still, he noted that not everyone may be in a position to be similarly outspoken. “How many others are not speaking up?” Dr. Gonzalez said.

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‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump

Deeply conservative, they organize online and outside the Republican Party apparatus, engaging in more explicit versions of the chest-beating seen at the president’s rallies.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163592046_358f7c85-55f7-4a43-b1e4-f8a0fa98a0c4-articleLarge ‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Patriot Movement Conservatism (US Politics) Arizona

Eddie Rohwer was one of the vendors selling merchandise at Trumpstock, a three-day festival held this fall in northwest Arizona.Credit…Bethany Mollenkof for The New York Times

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Dec. 28, 2019

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Great American Pizza & Subs, on a highway about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was busier and Trumpier than usual. On any given day it serves “M.A.G.A. Subs” and “Liberty Bell Lasagna.” The “Second Amendment” pizza comes “loaded” with pepperoni and sausage. The dining room is covered in regalia praising President Trump.

But this October morning was “Trumpstock,” a small festival celebrating the president. The speakers included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, except liberals.

“They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists,” volunteered Guy Taiho Decker, who drove from California to attend the event. A right-wing protester, he has previously been arrested on charges of making terrorist threats.

“There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as a unicorn,” Mr. Decker said. “We’re patriots.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election shifts into higher gear, his campaign hopes to recapture voters who drifted away from the party in 2018 and 2019: independents who embraced moderate Democratic candidates, suburban women tired of Mr. Trump’s personal conduct and working-class voters who haven’t benefited from his economic policies.

But if any group remains singularly loyal to Mr. Trump, it is the small but impassioned number of white voters on the far right, often in rural communities like Golden Valley, who extol him as a cultural champion reclaiming the country from undeserving outsiders.

These voters don’t passively tolerate Mr. Trump’s “build a wall” message or his ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — they’re what motivates them. They see themselves in his fear-based identity politics, bolstered by conspiratorial rhetoric about caravans of immigrants and Democratic “coups.”

The president draws support from a broader political and ideological cross-section of Republicans than the Trumpstock crowd reflected, and he attracts some independents and Democrats as well. The festival itself was relatively small, drawing about 100 people, though significant enough to attract the likes of Mr. Gosar.

But events like it, as well as speaking engagements featuring far-right supporters of the president, have become part of the political landscape during the Trump era. Islamophobic taunts can be heard at his rallies. Hate speech and conspiracy theories are staples of some far-right websites. If Trumpstock was modest in size, it stood out as a sign of extremist public support for a sitting president.

And these supporters have electoral muscle in key areas: Mr. Trump outperformed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, in rural parts of Arizona like Mohave County, where Golden Valley is located. Mr. Trump won 58,282 votes in the county, compared to 47,901 for Mr. Romney, though Mr. Romney carried the state by a much bigger vote margin.

Arizona will be a key battleground state in 2020: Democrats already flipped a Senate seat and a Tucson-based congressional district from red to blue in 2018. For Mr. Trump, big turnout from white voters in areas like Mohave County — and in rural parts of other battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia — could be a lifeline in a tight election.

“We like to call this the ‘Red Wall of Arizona,’” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and Republican campaign official in Mohave County who organizes in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Winning the state starts here, with us.”

Grass-roots gatherings play a critical role in the modern culture of political organizing, firing up ardent supporters and cementing new ones. Small circles of Trump-supporting conservatives, often organized online and outside the traditional Republican Party apparatus, engage in more decentralized — and explicit — versions of the chest-beating that happens at Mr. Trump’s closely watched political rallies.

In interviews, people in the crowd described a white America under threat as racial minorities typified by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president, gain political power. They described Mr. Trump as an inspirational figure who is undoing Mr. Obama’s legacy and beating back the perceived threat of Muslim and Latino immigrants, whom they denounced in prejudiced terms.

“I don’t have a problem with Muslims,” said Angus Smith, an Arizona resident who attended the festival, “but can they take the rag off their head out of respect for our country?”

At Mr. Trump’s official rallies, including a recent one in Florida, the president has referred to Mr. Obama by stressing his middle name, Hussein, and said Democrats were “trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”

The Trumpstock speakers pushed even further, tying Mr. Obama’s middle name to a false belief that he is a foreign-born Muslim.

And Democrats were portrayed as not just political opponents, but avatars of doom for Mr. Trump’s predominantly white voter base and for the country.

“There is no difference between the democratic socialists and the National Socialists,” said Evan Sayet, a conservative writer who spoke at the event, referencing Nazi Germany. Democrats, he said, “are the heirs to Adolf Hitler.”

Speakers at Trumpstock said their cultural fears had been exacerbated by their state’s own changing nature: Arizona is on the front lines of undocumented border crossings from Mexico and racial minorities are expected to outnumber white people in the state in the next decade.

Arizona Democrats made political gains in 2018, and the national party is riding high after it won governor’s races this year in Kentucky and Louisiana. But Republicans remain bullish. They argue that a slice of their electoral base will only vote when the president is on the ballot, and point to regions like Northern Arizona as places to find, as Mr. Trump wrote in a recent tweet, “the Angry Majority.”

“We have the greatest base in the history of politics,” he said at a recent rally in Florida.

In Arizona, the most prominent pro-Trump, anti-immigrant groups are AZ Patriots and Patriot Movement AZ, which have held tight to the themes of white nationalism that some Republicans have denounced. In September, after repeated clashes, some members of the groups agreed to a court order to stop harassing migrants and church volunteers who help them.

Earlier this year, the groups and their allies organized a “Patriotism over Socialism” event in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix, that included speeches from Representative Andy Biggs, the area’s congressman, and Kelli Ward, the state’s Republican Party chair. They appeared alongside more fringe figures: Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, which has promoted figures associated with anti-L.G.B.T. conversion therapy, and Laura Loomer, the far-right activist and Arizona native who was banned by Twitter and some other platforms after making anti-Muslim comments.

This blend of insider and outsider, of mainstream and conspiracy, is a feature of how Mr. Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his image, and the core of his presidential origin story. Before Mr. Trump announced any firm plans to seek office, he was the national face of the “birther” conspiracy, which thrived in the Tea Party movement and had a significant amount of support from the Republican base, polls showed.

Stacey Goodman, a former police officer from New York who retired to Arizona and attended Trumpstock, said her distrust of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate had led her to Mr. Trump.

“If you’re Muslim, just tell us you’re Muslim,” she said of Mr. Obama. “It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I’m just not qualified to answer that question. I’ve seen information on both sides that’s compelling.”

Mona Fishman, a singer from the Las Vegas area who performed at the event, has written Trump-themed songs with titles like “Fake News” and “Smells like Soros,” which accuses liberal megadonor George Soros of running a shadow government, a trope widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

In the White House, Mr. Trump has relied on similar unfounded conspiracy theories and promoted people who have perpetuated them. He pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, a hero of Arizona’s right wing and a leader of the “birther” movement, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his aggressive efforts to detain undocumented immigrants.

On Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, likely the most watched in the world, he has promoted white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

Even mainstream conservative media figures have embraced QAnon as a way to dismiss Mr. Trump’s political enemies. The Fox News host Jesse Watters, during a recent segment dedicated to the conspiracy, linked it to Mr. Trump’s Washington enemies. “Isn’t it also about the Trump fight with the deep state in terms of the illegal surveillance of the campaign, the inside hit jobs that he’s sustained?” he asked.

The embrace of conspiracy theories has frustrated some establishment Republicans and moderate Republican voters, who urge Mr. Trump to embrace a more traditional communication style.

His base disagrees.

“Please never stop tweeting,” Ms. Fishman sings in one of her songs, titled “Thank You President Trump.” “I can hardly wait to see what I’ll be reading.”

Events like Trumpstock are not limited to Arizona. Its organizer, Laurie Bezick, recruited speakers from around the country through social media, tapping into a network of pro-Trump voices only a click away.

Long-shot congressional candidates touting an “America First” agenda came from places like Iowa and Maryland. Leaders of fledgling political groups with names like JEXIT: Jews Exit The Democratic Party, Latinos for Trump and Deplorable Pride, right-wing L.G.B.T. organization, told the overwhelmingly white audience they were not anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic or racist. In fact, the speakers insisted, people who used those terms were more guilty of bigotry than the people they accused.

To applause, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, read the pledge he took when he became a naturalized citizen and renounced his Mexican homeland. Nitemare, a pro-Trump rapper who refused to give his legal name, invoked QAnon and called Mr. Obama a racist slur in his set.

Brian Talbert, the founder of Deplorable Pride, was contacted by the White House after he was barred from the L.G.B.T. pride parade in Charlotte, N.C. At Trumpstock, Mr. Talbert, who has a history of expressing anti-Muslim beliefs on social media, gave voice to hatred of Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Mr. Trump’s 2016 opponent.

“I think she should be hanging at the end of a rope for treason,” he said of Mrs. Clinton.

Members of groups like these at once make up a critical portion of Arizona’s conservative base, and espouse derogatory rhetoric that must repeatedly be repudiated, creating political difficulties for the state’s Republican lawmakers. After a photograph emerged last April of members of Patriot Movement AZ posing with Gov. Doug Ducey, he said he had never heard of the group. “I absolutely denounce their behavior,” he added.

Trumpstock attendees say they are used to being denounced, another quality they feel they share with the president. It’s part of why they are protective of him, to the point that they refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a Trump loss in 2020.

Mark Villalta said he had been stockpiling firearms, in case Mr. Trump’s re-election is not successful.

“Nothing less than a civil war would happen,” Mr. Villalta said, his right hand reaching for a holstered handgun. “I don’t believe in violence, but I’ll do what I got to do.”

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

‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump

Deeply conservative, they organize online and outside the Republican Party apparatus, engaging in more explicit versions of the chest-beating seen at the president’s rallies.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163592046_358f7c85-55f7-4a43-b1e4-f8a0fa98a0c4-articleLarge ‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Patriot Movement Conservatism (US Politics) Arizona

Eddie Rohwer was one of the vendors selling merchandise at Trumpstock, a three-day festival held this fall in northwest Arizona.Credit…Bethany Mollenkof for The New York Times

Westlake Legal Group author-head-astead-thumbLarge-v2 ‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Patriot Movement Conservatism (US Politics) Arizona

Dec. 28, 2019

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Great American Pizza & Subs, on a highway about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was busier and Trumpier than usual. On any given day it serves “M.A.G.A. Subs” and “Liberty Bell Lasagna.” The “Second Amendment” pizza comes “loaded” with pepperoni and sausage. The dining room is covered in regalia praising President Trump.

But this October morning was “Trumpstock,” a small festival celebrating the president. The speakers included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, except liberals.

“They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists,” volunteered Guy Taiho Decker, who drove from California to attend the event. A right-wing protester, he has previously been arrested on charges of making terrorist threats.

“There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as a unicorn,” Mr. Decker said. “We’re patriots.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election shifts into higher gear, his campaign hopes to recapture voters who drifted away from the party in 2018 and 2019: independents who embraced moderate Democratic candidates, suburban women tired of Mr. Trump’s personal conduct and working-class voters who haven’t benefited from his economic policies.

But if any group remains singularly loyal to Mr. Trump, it is the small but impassioned number of white voters on the far right, often in rural communities like Golden Valley, who extol him as a cultural champion reclaiming the country from undeserving outsiders.

These voters don’t passively tolerate Mr. Trump’s “build a wall” message or his ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — they’re what motivates them. They see themselves in his fear-based identity politics, bolstered by conspiratorial rhetoric about caravans of immigrants and Democratic “coups.”

The president draws support from a broader political and ideological cross-section of Republicans than the Trumpstock crowd reflected, and he attracts some independents and Democrats as well. The festival itself was relatively small, drawing about 100 people, though significant enough to attract the likes of Mr. Gosar.

But events like it, as well as speaking engagements featuring far-right supporters of the president, have become part of the political landscape during the Trump era. Islamophobic taunts can be heard at his rallies. Hate speech and conspiracy theories are staples of some far-right websites. If Trumpstock was modest in size, it stood out as a sign of extremist public support for a sitting president.

And these supporters have electoral muscle in key areas: Mr. Trump outperformed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, in rural parts of Arizona like Mohave County, where Golden Valley is located. Mr. Trump won 58,282 votes in the county, compared to 47,901 for Mr. Romney, though Mr. Romney carried the state by a much bigger vote margin.

Arizona will be a key battleground state in 2020: Democrats already flipped a Senate seat and a Tucson-based congressional district from red to blue in 2018. For Mr. Trump, big turnout from white voters in areas like Mohave County — and in rural parts of other battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia — could be a lifeline in a tight election.

“We like to call this the ‘Red Wall of Arizona,’” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and Republican campaign official in Mohave County who organizes in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Winning the state starts here, with us.”

Grass-roots gatherings play a critical role in the modern culture of political organizing, firing up ardent supporters and cementing new ones. Small circles of Trump-supporting conservatives, often organized online and outside the traditional Republican Party apparatus, engage in more decentralized — and explicit — versions of the chest-beating that happens at Mr. Trump’s closely watched political rallies.

In interviews, people in the crowd described a white America under threat as racial minorities typified by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president, gain political power. They described Mr. Trump as an inspirational figure who is undoing Mr. Obama’s legacy and beating back the perceived threat of Muslim and Latino immigrants, whom they denounced in prejudiced terms.

“I don’t have a problem with Muslims,” said Angus Smith, an Arizona resident who attended the festival, “but can they take the rag off their head out of respect for our country?”

At Mr. Trump’s official rallies, including a recent one in Florida, the president has referred to Mr. Obama by stressing his middle name, Hussein, and said Democrats were “trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”

The Trumpstock speakers pushed even further, tying Mr. Obama’s middle name to a false belief that he is a foreign-born Muslim.

And Democrats were portrayed as not just political opponents, but avatars of doom for Mr. Trump’s predominantly white voter base and for the country.

“There is no difference between the democratic socialists and the National Socialists,” said Evan Sayet, a conservative writer who spoke at the event, referencing Nazi Germany. Democrats, he said, “are the heirs to Adolf Hitler.”

Speakers at Trumpstock said their cultural fears had been exacerbated by their state’s own changing nature: Arizona is on the front lines of undocumented border crossings from Mexico and racial minorities are expected to outnumber white people in the state in the next decade.

Arizona Democrats made political gains in 2018, and the national party is riding high after it won governor’s races this year in Kentucky and Louisiana. But Republicans remain bullish. They argue that a slice of their electoral base will only vote when the president is on the ballot, and point to regions like Northern Arizona as places to find, as Mr. Trump wrote in a recent tweet, “the Angry Majority.”

“We have the greatest base in the history of politics,” he said at a recent rally in Florida.

In Arizona, the most prominent pro-Trump, anti-immigrant groups are AZ Patriots and Patriot Movement AZ, which have held tight to the themes of white nationalism that some Republicans have denounced. In September, after repeated clashes, some members of the groups agreed to a court order to stop harassing migrants and church volunteers who help them.

Earlier this year, the groups and their allies organized a “Patriotism over Socialism” event in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix, that included speeches from Representative Andy Biggs, the area’s congressman, and Kelli Ward, the state’s Republican Party chair. They appeared alongside more fringe figures: Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, which has promoted figures associated with anti-L.G.B.T. conversion therapy, and Laura Loomer, the far-right activist and Arizona native who was banned by Twitter and some other platforms after making anti-Muslim comments.

This blend of insider and outsider, of mainstream and conspiracy, is a feature of how Mr. Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his image, and the core of his presidential origin story. Before Mr. Trump announced any firm plans to seek office, he was the national face of the “birther” conspiracy, which thrived in the Tea Party movement and had a significant amount of support from the Republican base, polls showed.

Stacey Goodman, a former police officer from New York who retired to Arizona and attended Trumpstock, said her distrust of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate had led her to Mr. Trump.

“If you’re Muslim, just tell us you’re Muslim,” she said of Mr. Obama. “It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I’m just not qualified to answer that question. I’ve seen information on both sides that’s compelling.”

Mona Fishman, a singer from the Las Vegas area who performed at the event, has written Trump-themed songs with titles like “Fake News” and “Smells like Soros,” which accuses liberal megadonor George Soros of running a shadow government, a trope widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

In the White House, Mr. Trump has relied on similar unfounded conspiracy theories and promoted people who have perpetuated them. He pardoned Joseph M. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, a hero of Arizona’s right wing and a leader of the “birther” movement, who was convicted of criminal contempt related to his aggressive efforts to detain undocumented immigrants.

On Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, likely the most watched in the world, he has promoted white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking.

Even mainstream conservative media figures have embraced QAnon as a way to dismiss Mr. Trump’s political enemies. The Fox News host Jesse Watters, during a recent segment dedicated to the conspiracy, linked it to Mr. Trump’s Washington enemies. “Isn’t it also about the Trump fight with the deep state in terms of the illegal surveillance of the campaign, the inside hit jobs that he’s sustained?” he asked.

The embrace of conspiracy theories has frustrated some establishment Republicans and moderate Republican voters, who urge Mr. Trump to embrace a more traditional communication style.

His base disagrees.

“Please never stop tweeting,” Ms. Fishman sings in one of her songs, titled “Thank You President Trump.” “I can hardly wait to see what I’ll be reading.”

Events like Trumpstock are not limited to Arizona. Its organizer, Laurie Bezick, recruited speakers from around the country through social media, tapping into a network of pro-Trump voices only a click away.

Long-shot congressional candidates touting an “America First” agenda came from places like Iowa and Maryland. Leaders of fledgling political groups with names like JEXIT: Jews Exit The Democratic Party, Latinos for Trump and Deplorable Pride, right-wing L.G.B.T. organization, told the overwhelmingly white audience they were not anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, homophobic or racist. In fact, the speakers insisted, people who used those terms were more guilty of bigotry than the people they accused.

To applause, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, read the pledge he took when he became a naturalized citizen and renounced his Mexican homeland. Nitemare, a pro-Trump rapper who refused to give his legal name, invoked QAnon and called Mr. Obama a racist slur in his set.

Brian Talbert, the founder of Deplorable Pride, was contacted by the White House after he was barred from the L.G.B.T. pride parade in Charlotte, N.C. At Trumpstock, Mr. Talbert, who has a history of expressing anti-Muslim beliefs on social media, gave voice to hatred of Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Mr. Trump’s 2016 opponent.

“I think she should be hanging at the end of a rope for treason,” he said of Mrs. Clinton.

Members of groups like these at once make up a critical portion of Arizona’s conservative base, and espouse derogatory rhetoric that must repeatedly be repudiated, creating political difficulties for the state’s Republican lawmakers. After a photograph emerged last April of members of Patriot Movement AZ posing with Gov. Doug Ducey, he said he had never heard of the group. “I absolutely denounce their behavior,” he added.

Trumpstock attendees say they are used to being denounced, another quality they feel they share with the president. It’s part of why they are protective of him, to the point that they refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a Trump loss in 2020.

Mark Villalta said he had been stockpiling firearms, in case Mr. Trump’s re-election is not successful.

“Nothing less than a civil war would happen,” Mr. Villalta said, his right hand reaching for a holstered handgun. “I don’t believe in violence, but I’ll do what I got to do.”

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

Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

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Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-missile1-facebookJumbo Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Treaties Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Moscow (Russia) Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

WASHINGTON — The Russian military on Friday said it had deployed a hypersonic weapon that flies at superfast speeds and can easily evade American missile defense systems, potentially setting off a new chapter in the long arms race between the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers.

American officials said Friday they have little doubt that the Russians have a working hypersonic weapon — which sits on top of a modified missile and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead at speeds faster than 3,800 miles per hour.

Moscow has been working on the technology for years and has invested heavily in it, determined to reverse the pattern in the Cold War, when it was often struggling to catch up with American nuclear weapons systems. If the new system, called “Avangard,” works as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted when he described the weapon a year ago, it would significantly enhance Moscow’s already powerful nuclear forces, American officials said.

Hypersonic weapons fly extremely fast and can maneuver along unpredictable trajectories, making them incredibly difficult for current systems to track, much less shoot down. Senior American military officials said the United States plans to deploy its own hypersonic weapons by 2022, but some experts believe that schedule may prove optimistic.

Yet the Russian announcement may be as much about spurring a new round of diplomatic talks as it is about reviving an arms race, current and former diplomats said. Moscow is anxious for President Trump to renew the last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, which limits strategic nuclear missile launchers and deployed warheads for both nations. The treaty expires soon after the next presidential inauguration in 2021.

The Trump administration has been noncommittal about extending the treaty, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he would only renew it if it includes China and other nuclear powers. China has said it is not interested in any numerical limits on its arsenal, which is one-fifth of the size of America’s and Russia’s.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “the world has changed” in the decade since the Obama administration negotiated New START and arms control treaties can no longer be limited “to the United States and Russia.”

By showcasing its new weapon, Russia could be trying to pressure Mr. Trump to open talks. Mr. Putin said earlier this week that Russia was ahead on hypersonic technology, reveling in a rare moment of superiority to American and Chinese technology. The Russian leader has been unafraid to use “nuclear diplomacy” in the past and Moscow has been designing new weapons that can threaten the United States.

Mr. Trump has at times called for starting a new arms race, saying that American technology would ultimately win. Yet while the United States military was once thought to be well ahead in hypersonic technology, the pace of development flagged in recent years.

“China and Russia made hypersonic weapons a national priority. We didn’t,” William B. Roper, the head of Air Force acquisitions and technology, said on Friday. “Every service now has a major hypersonics program in a departmentwide effort to catch up.”

The United States Air Force has two hypersonic prototypes in testing and while development is on an accelerated pace, the weapons are not scheduled to be operational until 2022. Other parts of the Pentagon, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have other hypersonic initiatives, but they are many years down the road.

Still, experts say the threat to the United States appears limited. Russia’s system is being deployed in relatively low numbers, likely no more than a couple of dozen, according to Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. As a result, the system “does not significantly increase the threat to the United States and the world” of Russia’s already fearsome nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kimball said.

But he said the two countries should discuss hypersonics as part of any new treaty negotiations.

“Washington and Moscow should immediately commence talks on how new weapons technologies and all types of nuclear weapons should be regulated so that neither side believes they can gain an advantage by ‘racing’ ahead of the other,” Mr. Kimball said.

The Russian weapon — known as a hypersonic glide vehicle — can fly lower in the atmosphere, avoiding ballistic missile defense radars. It is mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, allowing the warhead to be initially carried toward a target on a traditional piece of technology. But as it gets closer to the target, it is designed to fly at hypersonic speeds in an unpredictable path — making detection, tracking and interception extremely difficult. Most American missile defenses work by predicting the path of an incoming weapon, and shooting an “interceptor” at it.

On Friday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, informed Mr. Putin that the first missile regiment armed with the glide vehicle was operational, the ministry said in a statement. The strategic missile forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said at a meeting later in the day that the new missile was deployed with a military unit in the town of Yasny of the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the Russian statement, but other American officials said there was no reason to doubt Moscow had deployed the new weapon.

Nothing in the existing arms treaty would prohibit the new Russian weapon from being mounted atop an intercontinental weapon. In November, before Friday’s deployment of the hypersonic weapon, the Russian military exhibited it for American officials, as required under the treaty, and to show off the technology to the United States.

The weapons that Mr. Putin has tried to highlight in recent years have all been systems designed to reach the United States.

“The Russians are developing capabilities to reach out and attack us,” said Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, a senior Air Force official said in an interview earlier this month, before the Russian technology was declared operational. “When you look at some of the capabilities Russia has announced, they are designed for offensive attack into the homeland of the United States.”

The Avangard project was among the few new Russian strategic weapons Mr. Putin unveiled during his State of the Union speech in March 2018. Mr. Putin boasted the new weapon “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire” and is “absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense system.”

Russia began looking at ways to improve the capabilities of its strategic missile force after the United States withdrew from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2002 in order to expand its missile defenses.

Russia has several other projects underway, including a long-range torpedo that could detonate a nuclear weapon on the American West Coast, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Neither would be covered by New START but development is still years away.

The new American defense budget devotes significant funds to developing both new weapons and new defenses against hypersonic weapons. Progress has been cloaked in considerable secrecy. But Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Pentagon spokesman, said hypersonic weapons “remain a technical research and engineering priority” for the Pentagon.

Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs.

Dr. Roper said the Air Force is moving more aggressively than usual to test the prototypes in an effort to build new weapons faster. Even if the new prototypes work, he said there can be no “sense of comfort” and warned that the United States will need to continue developing new hypersonic weapons “if we want to dominate this new domain of fast flight.”

Ivan Nechepurenko in Moscow contributed reporting.

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