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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 79)

Trump Shares Unfounded Fringe Theory About Epstein and Clintons

Westlake Legal Group dc-trump-facebookJumbo Trump Shares Unfounded Fringe Theory About Epstein and Clintons Trump, Donald J Suicides and Suicide Attempts Justice Department Federal Bureau of Prisons Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- )

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. — President Trump used Twitter on Saturday to promote unfounded conspiracy theories about how Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of sex trafficking, died in a federal prison, even as the administration faced questions about why Mr. Epstein had not been more closely monitored.

For years Mr. Trump has brashly — and baselessly — promoted suspicion as fact and peddled secret plots by powerful interests as a way to broadcast his own version of reality. Those include the lie that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and that millions of votes were illegally cast for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Hours after Mr. Epstein was found to have hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell, Mr. Trump retweeted a post from the comedian Terrence Williams linking the Clintons to the death. Mr. Epstein “had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead,” wrote Mr. Williams, a Trump supporter. In an accompanying two-minute video, Mr. Williams noted that “for some odd reason, people that have information on the Clintons end up dead.”

There is no evidence to substantiate the claim, which derives from groundless speculation on the far right, dating to Mr. Clinton’s early days as president, that multiple deaths can be traced to the Clintons and explained by their supposed efforts to cover up wrongdoing.

[How Mr. Trump uses conspiracy theories to erode trust.]

Responding to Mr. Trump’s retweets, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton mockingly wrote, “Ridiculous, and of course not true — and Donald Trump knows it.” The spokesman, Angel Ureña, added, “Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?” The 25th Amendment contains a provision allowing for the removal of a president if he is unable to perform his duties, potentially in the event of mental instability.

Posting from his luxury golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump also shared another tweet, from an unverified account, which claimed that recently unsealed documents involving accusations of Mr. Epstein’s abuse had revealed that Mr. Clinton “took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia island.’”

A spokesman for Mr. Clinton has denied that Mr. Clinton traveled to Mr. Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands. The documents unsealed yesterday also include an acknowledgment from one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, that an earlier claim she made about Mr. Clinton visiting Mr. Epstein in the Caribbean was untrue.

Mr. Epstein’s death, 12 days after being taken off suicide watch, prompted questions about the safeguards prison officials took to keep him alive and ensure he answer for yearslong allegations of sexual abuse. The Justice Department immediately faced criticism, drawing outrage from accusers seeking justice and from legal experts questioning why prison officials deemed Mr. Epstein was no longer at risk of taking his own life.

The attorney general, William P. Barr, said on Saturday that the Justice Department’s independent watchdog would conduct an inquiry into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death in a federal prison cell. The F.B.I. also said it would investigate.

The pair of retweets come on a day when Mr. Trump expressed outrage on Twitter over what he called “dishonest” and “inaccurate” coverage of his presidency by the news media, including The New York Times. Mr. Trump insisted that reports that several survivors of the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend had refused to see him when he visited their hospital on Wednesday were false, but provided no evidence.

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Clinton had been friendly with Mr. Epstein but broke ties with him many years ago. In a July statement, Mr. Ureña, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, said that the former president had taken several trips with Mr. Epstein on his private plane in 2002 and 2003 but that the men had not spoken in more than a decade. Mr. Clinton “knows nothing about the terrible crimes” of which Mr. Epstein has been accused and, in one case, had been sentenced, the statement said.

Even before Mr. Trump weighed in on the subject, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on Twitter that while scrutiny of Mr. Epstein’s death was warranted, “the immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone on the ‘other side’ of partisan divide having him killed illustrates why our society is so vulnerable to foreign disinformation & influence efforts.”

Earlier Saturday, one of the president’s senior appointees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Lynne Patton, posted a headline about Mr. Epstein’s death on Instagram, perpetuating a debunked right-wing narrative. Including the comment, “Hillary’d!!” she also referred to Vincent Foster, the Clinton White House counsel who died by suicide in 1994 — a crucial episode in the unfounded theory tying the Clintons to allegedly suspicious deaths.

Adding to the extraordinary nature of Mr. Trump’s retweets was the fact that Mr. Clinton is a former president. American presidents have traditionally treated their predecessors and successors with pronounced respect, even when they are from different parties or ran bitter campaigns against one another. But after defeating Mrs. Clinton in a 2016 campaign during which he suggested he might imprison her, Mr. Trump has repeatedly ridiculed and taunted both Clintons.

Tweeting on another subject earlier in the day, Mr. Trump seemed to criticize joint United States military exercises with South Korea that have enraged North Korea, calling them “ridiculous and expensive.” The president said that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, had offered him “a small apology” for that country’s recent short-range missile tests, which violate United Nations resolutions but which Mr. Trump has brushed off. “I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!” he wrote.

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The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism

RINKEBY, Sweden — Johnny Castillo, a Peruvian-born neighborhood watchman in this district of Stockholm, still puzzles over the strange events that two years ago turned the central square of this predominantly immigrant community into a symbol of multiculturalism run amok.

First came a now-infamous comment by President Trump, suggesting that Sweden’s history of welcoming refugees was at the root of a violent attack in Rinkeby the previous evening, even though nothing had actually happened.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden!” Mr. Trump told supporters at a rally on Feb. 18, 2017. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

The president’s source: Fox News, which had excerpted a short film promoting a dystopian view of Sweden as a victim of its asylum policies, with immigrant neighborhoods crime-ridden “no-go zones.”


Westlake Legal Group sweden_still-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

CreditCreditFox News

But two days later, as Swedish officials were heaping bemused derision on Mr. Trump, something did in fact happen in Rinkeby: Several dozen masked men attacked police officers making a drug arrest, throwing rocks and setting cars ablaze.

And it was right around that time, according to Mr. Castillo and four other witnesses, that Russian television crews showed up, offering to pay immigrant youths “to make trouble” in front of the cameras.

“They wanted to show that President Trump is right about Sweden,” Mr. Castillo said, “that people coming to Europe are terrorists and want to disturb society.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_118448180_7c861b53-bfc9-4911-87d4-5d692abb58a9-articleLarge The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Firefighters on the scene of a riot in Rinkeby where several cars were lit on fire.CreditTt News Agency/Reuters

That nativist rhetoric — that immigrants are invading the homeland — has gained ever-greater traction, and political acceptance, across the West amid dislocations wrought by vast waves of migration from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In its most extreme form, it is echoed in the online manifesto of the man accused of gunning down 22 people last weekend in El Paso.

In the nationalists’ message-making, Sweden has become a prime cautionary tale, dripping with schadenfreude. What is even more striking is how many people in Sweden — progressive, egalitarian, welcoming Sweden — seem to be warming to the nationalists’ view: that immigration has brought crime, chaos and a fraying of the cherished social safety net, not to mention a withering away of national culture and tradition.

Fueled by an immigration backlash — Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country — right-wing populism has taken hold, reflected most prominently in the steady ascent of a political party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats. In elections last year, they captured nearly 18 percent of the vote.

To dig beneath the surface of what is happening in Sweden, though, is to uncover the workings of an international disinformation machine, devoted to the cultivation, provocation and amplication of far-right, anti-immigrant passions and political forces. Indeed, that machine, most influentially rooted in Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia and the American far right, underscores a fundamental irony of this political moment: the globalization of nationalism.

The central target of these manipulations from abroad — and the chief instrument of the Swedish nationalists’ success — is the country’s increasingly popular, and virulently anti-immigrant, digital echo chamber.

A New York Times examination of its content, personnel and traffic patterns illustrates how foreign state and nonstate actors have helped to give viral momentum to a clutch of Swedish far-right web sites.

Russian and Western entities that traffic in disinformation, including an Islamaphobic think tank whose former chairman is now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, have been crucial linkers to the Swedish sites, helping to spread their message to susceptible Swedes.

At least six Swedish sites have received financial backing through advertising revenue from a Russian- and Ukrainian-owned auto-parts business based in Berlin, whose online sales network oddly contains buried digital links to a range of far-right and other socially divisive content.

Writers and editors for the Swedish sites have been befriended by the Kremlin. And in one strange Rube Goldbergian chain of events, a frequent German contributor to one Swedish site has been implicated in the financing of a bombing in Ukraine, in a suspected Russian false-flag operation.

The distorted view of Sweden pumped out by this disinformation machine has been used, in turn, by anti-immigrant parties in Britain, Germany, Italy and elsewhere to stir xenophobia and gin up votes, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit that tracks the online spread of far-right extremism.

“I’d put Sweden up there with the anti-Soros campaign,” said Chloe Colliver, a researcher for the institute, referring to anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, the billionaire benefactor of liberal causes. “It’s become an enduring centerpiece of the far-right conversation.”

Mattias Karlsson, the Sweden Democrats’ international secretary and chief ideologist, likes to tell the story of how he became a soldier in what he has described as the “existential battle for our culture’s and our nation’s survival.”

It was the mid-1990s and Mr. Karlsson, now 41, was attending high school in the southern city of Vaxjo. Sweden was accepting a record number of refugees from the Balkan War and other conflicts. In Vaxjo and elsewhere, young immigrant men began joining brawling “kicker” gangs, radicalizing Mr. Karlsson and drawing him toward the local skinhead scene.

He took to wearing a leather jacket with a Swedish flag on the back and was soon introduced to Mats Nilsson, a Swedish National Socialist leader who gave him a copy of “Mein Kampf.” They began to debate: Mr. Nilsson argued that the goal should be ethnic purity — the preservation of “Swedish DNA.” Mr. Karlsson countered that the focus should be on preserving national culture and identity. That, he said, was when Mr. Nilsson conferred on him an epithet of insufficient commitment to the cause — “meatball patriot,” meaning that “I thought that every African or Arab can come to this country as long as they assimilate and eat meatballs.”

It is an account that offers the most benign explanation for an odious association. Whatever the case, in 1999, he joined the Sweden Democrats, a party undeniably rooted in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement. Indeed, scholars of the far right say that is what sets it apart from most anti-immigration parties in Europe and makes its rise from marginalized to mainstream so remarkable.

Mattias Karlsson, the international secretary of Sweden Democrats, a far-right party that captured nearly 18 percent in elections last year.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

The party was founded in 1988 by several Nazi ideologues, including a former member of the Waffen SS. Early on, it sought international alliances with the likes of the White Aryan Resistance, a white supremacist group founded by a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Some Sweden Democrats wore Nazi uniforms to party functions. Its platform included the forced repatriation of all immigrants since 1970.

That was not, however, a winning formula in a country where social democrats have dominated every election for more than a century.

While attending university, Mr. Karlsson had met Jimmie Akesson, who took over the Sweden Democrats’ youth party in 2000 and became party leader in 2005. Mr. Akesson was outspoken in his belief that Muslim refugees posed “the biggest foreign threat to Sweden since the Second World War.” But to make that case effectively, he and Mr. Karlsson agreed, they needed to remake the party’s image.

“We needed to really address our past,” Mr. Karlsson said.

They purged neo-Nazis who had been exposed by the press. They announced a “zero tolerance” policy toward extreme xenophobia and racism, emphasized their youthful leadership and urged members to dress presentably. And while immigration remained at the center of their platform, they moderated the way they talked about it.

No longer was the issue framed in terms of keeping certain ethnic groups out, or deporting those already in. Rather it was about how unassimilated migrants were eviscerating not just the nation’s cultural identity but also the social-welfare heart of the Swedish state.

Under the grand, egalitarian idea of the “folkhemmet,” or people’s home, in which the country is a family and its citizens take care of one another, Swedes pay among the world’s highest effective tax rates, in return for benefits like child care, health care, free college education and assistance when they grow old.

The safety net has come under strain for a host of economic and demographic reasons, many of which predate the latest refugee flood. But in the Sweden Democrats’ telling, the blame lies squarely at the feet of the foreigners, many of whom lag far behind native Swedes in education and economic accomplishment. One party advertisement depicted a white woman trying to collect benefits while being pursued by niqab-wearing immigrants pushing strollers.

To what extent the party’s makeover is just window dressing is an open question.

The doubts were highlighted in what became known as “the Iron Pipe Scandal” in 2012. Leaked video showed two Sweden Democrat MPs and the party’s candidate for attorney general hurling racist slurs at a comedian of Kurdish descent, then threatening a drunken witness with iron pipes.

Under Mr. Akesson and Mr. Karlsson, the party has hosted the American white nationalist Richard Spencer. High-ranking party officials have bounced between Sweden and Hungary, ruled by the authoritarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Mr. Karlsson himself has come under fire for calling out an extremist site as neo-fascist while using an alias to recommend posts as “worth reading” to party members.

“There’s a public face and the face they wear behind closed doors,” said Daniel Poohl, who heads Expo, a Stockholm-based foundation that tracks far-right extremism.

Still, even detractors admit that strategy has worked. In 2010, the Sweden Democrats captured 5.7 percent of the vote, enough for the party, and Mr. Karlsson, to enter Parliament for the first time. That share has steadily increased along with the growing population of refugees. (Today, roughly 20 percent of Sweden’s population is foreign born.)

At its peak in 2015, Sweden accepted 163,000 asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. Though border controls and tighter rules have eased that flow, Ardalan Shekarabi, the country’s public administration minister, acknowledged that his government had been slow to act.

A Somali family walking home from Rinkeby Square. More than 91 percent of Rinkeby’s roughly 16,400 residents are immigrants and their children.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

Mr. Shekarabi, an immigrant from Iran, said the sheer number of refugees had overwhelmed the government’s efforts to integrate them.

“I absolutely don’t think that the majority of Swedes have racist or xenophobic views, but they had questions about this migration policy and the other parties didn’t have any answers,” he said. “Which is one of the reasons why Sweden Democrats had a case.”

As the 2018 elections approached, Swedish counterintelligence was on high alert for foreign interference. Russia, the hulking neighbor to the east, was seen as the main threat. After the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 American election, Sweden had reason to fear it could be next.

“Russia’s goal is to weaken Western countries by polarizing the debate,” said Daniel Stenling, the Swedish Security Service’s counterintelligence chief. “For the last five years, we have seen more and more aggressive intelligence work against our nation.”

But as it turned out, there was no hacking and dumping of internal campaign documents, as in the United States. Nor was there an overt effort to swing the election to the Sweden Democrats, perhaps because the party, in keeping with Swedish popular opinion, has become more critical of the Kremlin than some of its far-right European counterparts.

Instead, security officials say, the foreign influence campaign took a different, more subtle form: helping nurture Sweden’s rapidly evolving far-right digital ecosystem.

For years, the Sweden Democrats had struggled to make their case to the public. Many mainstream media outlets declined their ads. The party even had difficulty getting the postal service to deliver its mailers. So it built a network of closed Facebook pages whose reach would ultimately exceed that of any other party.

But to thrive in the viral sense, that network required fresh, alluring content. It drew on a clutch of relatively new websites whose popularity was exploding.

Members of the Sweden Democrats helped create two of them: Samhallsnytt (News in Society) and Nyheter Idag (News Today). By the 2018 election year, they, along with a site called Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Sweden’s 10 most shared news sites.

A number of news sites with anti-immigrant messages helped propel Sweden Democrats to popularity.

These sites each reached one-tenth of all Swedish internet users a week and, according to an Oxford University study, accounted for 85 percent of the election-related “junk news” — deemed deliberately distorted or misleading — shared online. There were other sites, too, all injecting anti-immigrant and Islamophobic messaging into the Swedish political bloodstream.

“Immigration Behind Shortage of Drinking Water in Northern Stockholm,” read one recent headline. “Refugee Minor Raped Host Family’s Daughter; Thought It Was Legal,” read another. “Performed Female Genital Mutilation on Her Children — Given Asylum in Sweden,” read a third.

Russia’s hand in all of this is largely hidden from view. But fingerprints abound.

For instance, one writer for Samhallsnytt, who previously worked for the Sweden Democrats, was recently declined parliamentary press accreditation after the security police determined he had been in contact with Russian intelligence.

Fria Tider is considered not only one of the most extreme sites, but also among the most Kremlin-friendly. It frequently swaps material with the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik. The site is linked, via domain ownership records, to Granskning Sverige, called the Swedish “troll factory” for its efforts to entrap and embarrass mainstream journalists. Among its frequent targets: journalists who write negatively about Russia.

“We’ve had death threats, spam attacks, emails — this year has been totally crazy,” said Eva Burman, the editor of Eskilstuna-Kuriren, a newspaper that found itself in the cross hairs after criticizing the Russian annexation of Crimea and investigating Granskning Sverige itself.

At the magazine Nya Tider, the editor, Vavra Suk, has traveled to Moscow as an election observer and to Syria, where he produced Kremlin-friendly accounts of the civil war. Nya Tider has published work by Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist Russian philosopher who has been called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Mr. Suk’s writings for Mr. Dugin’s think tank include one titled “Donald Trump Can Make Europe Great Again.”

Nya Tider’s contributors include Manuel Ochsenreiter, editor of Zuerst!, a German far-right newspaper. Mr. Ochsenreiter — who has appeared regularly on RT, the Kremlin propaganda channel — worked until recently for Markus Frohnmaier, a member of the German Bundestag representing the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Documents leaked to a consortium of European media outlets — documents that Mr. Frohnmaier has called fake — have suggested that Moscow aided his election campaign in order to have an “absolutely controlled MP.”

Mr. Ochsenreiter, for his part, has been implicated in Polish court in the financing of a 2018 firebombing attack on a Hungarian cultural center in Ukraine. The plot, according to testimony from a Polish extremist charged with carrying it out, was designed to pin responsibility on Ukrainian nationalists and stoke ethnic tensions, to Russia’s benefit. Mr. Ochsenreiter has not been charged in Poland, but prosecutors in Berlin said they had begun a preliminary investigation. He has denied involvement.

Mr. Suk declined to comment.

Then there is Nyheter Idag. Its founder, Chang Frick — a former Sweden Democrat official who takes a maverick’s glee in his defiance of orthodoxy — readily admits to being a paid contributor to RT. At a pizza shop near his home one afternoon, he pointedly noted that his girlfriend was Russian and, with a flourish, pulled out a wad of rubles from a recent trip.

“Here is my real boss! It’s Putin!” he laughed.

But Mr. Frick, the son of a Swedish Roma and a Polish Jew, said Nyheter Idag answered to no one, neither the Sweden Democrats nor the Kremlin, though he added that his relentless reporting about the problems posed by immigrants dovetailed with both their agendas.

“People can see what’s happening in the streets,” he said, adding, “I’ve been accused of being a racist — I’m being ‘paid by the Sweden Democrats,’ I’m ‘a spy for Russia.’ That just tells me I’m kicking where it hurts.”

Still, he said he had reason to believe that “there is a little bit of collusion between Russia and some Swedish right-wing media.” One of his early scoops involved exposing the drinking and womanizing shenanigans of a Sweden Democrat member of Parliament who had been invited to Moscow. During that reporting trip, he said, he was invited to serve as an independent observer in Russia’s presidential election and to meet Mr. Putin.

He declined the invitation.

There is another curious Russian common denominator: Six of Sweden’s alt-right sites have drawn advertising revenue from a network of online auto-parts stores based in Germany and owned by four businessmen from Russia and Ukraine, three of whom have adopted German-sounding surnames.

The ads were first noticed by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, which discovered that while they appeared to be for a variety of outlets, all traced back to the same Berlin address and were owned by a parent company, Autodoc GmbH.

The Times found that the company had also placed ads on anti-Semitic and other extremist sites in Germany, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere in Europe.

Which raised a question: Was the auto-parts dealer simply trying to drum up business, or was it also trying to support the far-right cause?

Rikard Lindholm, co-founder of a data-driven marketing firm who has worked with Swedish authorities to combat disinformation, dug deeper into the Autodoc network.

Hidden beneath the user-friendly interface of some of the earliest Autodoc sites lay what Mr. Lindholm, an expert in the forensic analysis of online traffic, described as “icebergs” of blog-like content completely unrelated to auto parts, translated into a variety of languages. A visitor to one of the car-parts sites could not simply access this content from the home page; instead, one had to know and type in the full URL.

“It’s like they have a back door and it’s open and you can have a look around, but to do that you have to know that the door is there,” Mr. Lindholm said.

Much of the content was not political. But there were links to posts about a range of divisive social issues, some of them translated into other languages. One hidden link — about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries — had been translated from English to Polish before being posted. Yet another post, from a site called AnsweringIslam.net, concluded, “Islam hates you.”

Thomas Casper, a spokesman for Autodoc, said the company had no “interest at all in supporting alt-right media,” and added, “We vehemently oppose racism and far-right principles.”

He said the company’s digital advertising team worked with third parties to place ads on “trusted websites with substantial traffic.” Autodoc, he said, had instituted controls to try to ensure that it no longer advertised on far-right sites.

Autodocs has advertised on far-right sites in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, including this Hungarian site which has a section devoted to Holocaust denialism.

As for the icebergs, after receiving The Times’s inquiry, the company removed what Mr. Casper called the “obviously dubious and outdated content.” It had originally been placed there, he said, to improve search engine optimization.

But Mr. Lindholm said that made no sense. “By linking to irrelevant content, it actually hurts their business because Google frowns on that,” he said.

Another way to look inside the explosive growth of Sweden’s alt-right outlets is to see who is linking to them. The more links, especially from well-trafficked outlets, the more likely Google is to rank the sites as authoritative. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more likely to see them when they search for, say, immigration and crime.

The Times analyzed more than 12 million available links from over 18,000 domains to four prominent far-right sites — Nyheter Idag, Samhallsnytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lindholm from two search engine optimization tools and represents a snapshot of all known links through July 2.

As expected, given the relative paucity of Swedish speakers worldwide, most of the links came from Swedish-language sites.

But the analysis turned up a surprising number of links from well-trafficked foreign-language sites — which suggests that the Swedish sites’ rapid growth has been driven to a significant degree from abroad.

“It has the makings, the characteristics, of an operation whose purpose or goal is to help these sites become relevant by getting them to be seen as widely as possible,” Mr. Lindholm said.

Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish language sites. English-language sites, along with Norwegian ones, linked the most, nearly a million times. But other European-language far-right sites — Russian but also Czech, Danish, German, Finnish and Polish — were also frequent linkers.

The Times identified 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

Many are well known in American far-right circles. Among them is the Gatestone Institute, a think tank whose site regularly stokes fears about Muslims in the United States and Europe. Its chairman until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, and its funders have included Rebekah Mercer, a prominent wealthy Trump supporter.

Other domains that linked to all four Swedish sites included Stormfront, one of the oldest and largest American white supremacist sites; Voice of Europe, a Kremlin-friendly right-wing site; a Russian-language blog called Sweden4Rus.nu; and FreieWelt.net, a site supportive of the AfD in Germany.

This loosely knit global network does not just help increase readership in Sweden; researchers have tracked how Russian state outlets like RT and Sputnik, along with Western platforms like Infowars and Breitbart, have picked up and amplified Swedish immigration-related stories to galvanize xenophobia among their audiences.

Bjorn Palmertz, a disinformation specialist at the Swedish Defense University, said this “information laundry” had resulted in globally viral stories like the one about the Swedish town that allowed a mosque to issue calls to prayer while denying a church’s application to ring its bells — never mind that the church had not applied.

“Sweden is portrayed either as a heaven or a hell,” said Annika Rembe, Sweden’s consul general in New York. “But conservative value-based politicians in Hungary, Poland, the United States and elsewhere would use Sweden as an example of a failed state: If you follow this path, your society will look like Sweden’s.”

The auditorium at Rinkebyskolan, a middle school across the street from Rinkeby’s town square, filled rapidly. Women wearing hijabs and burqas spilled in, taking their seats on the left. Men sat to the right. From the speakers came the voice of an imam reading from the Quran.

Developed as part of a 1960s-era government initiative to build a million affordable dwellings, Rinkeby was originally home to a mix of Swedes and laborers from southern Europe. Over time it became known as Sweden’s “Village of the World,” with people from more than 100 countries living in drab, low-slung apartment blocks. Today, more than 91 percent of Rinkeby’s roughly 16,400 residents are immigrants and their children.

Westlake Legal Group rinkeby-720 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Lilla Vartan



Westlake Legal Group rinkeby-300 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Lilla Vartan

By Jason Kao

At a long table in front of the auditorium sat Niclas Andersson, a towering man who serves as Rinkeby’s police chief. Once prayers concluded, the audience began peppering him with questions.

Some worried about drug trafficking inside the apartment complexes, others about the prevalence of guns. Could the police install more cameras?

To be sure, Mr. Andersson said in an interview afterward, there were problems in Rinkeby, his posting for 18 years. But it is hardly the hellscape that nationalists bent on painting Sweden as a failed state hold it out to be.

Many newcomers still struggle to get a foothold in the job market, so unemployment is relatively high, at 8.8 percent. And in the larger Rinkeby-Kista borough, there were 825 reported episodes of violent crime last year, a rate 36 percent higher per capita than Stockholm as a whole.

But Mr. Andersson does not recognize the Rinkeby portrayed in the movie — directed by a filmmaker who has shot political ads for Republicans in Congress — that led Mr. Trump to make his “last night in Sweden” remarks. Rinkeby is not a no-go zone, Mr. Andersson said, an assertion supported by the film’s chief cameraman, who has acknowledged that officers who seemed to suggest otherwise had been edited out of context.

In fact, the number of police officers in Rinkeby has more than quadrupled since 2015. Assaults and robberies are down, Mr. Andersson said. Fatal shootings are down, too — of 11 in Stockholm last year, one was in Rinkeby. Nationally, the violent crime rate is one-fifth that of the United States.

“It was a heavily slanted picture,” Mr. Andersson said. “You zero in on a couple of incidents, then use that to describe the whole area.”

By the time Mr. Trump zeroed in on Rinkeby, “the government was tackling the problems,” said Amela Mahovic, a local reporter for Swedish public television. When the actual clash broke out soon after, she said, community elders spread the word to local youths: “You need to stop this.”

But soon, they said, they found that outside forces wanted the world to see a different picture.

Guleed Mohamed, then a researcher for public television, said he had spoken to a reporting team from Russia and Ukraine in Rinkeby Square that week and had tried to ask about Russia.

“They changed the subject to how multiculturalism doesn’t work,” he recalled. “And then they quickly connected that to the clash — ‘I want to talk about the riot. Don’t you think this is connected to the influx of migrants?’”

Hani Al Saleh, a Syrian who came to Sweden as a teenager, was working as a guard in Rinkeby. Tall and muscular with a sculpted beard, Mr. Saleh is known as “Amo,” or uncle, by the local youth. He said three young immigrants he knew told him that Russian journalists had tried to bribe them with 400 kronor (about $43) apiece.

Hani Al Saleh, a guard in Rinkeby known as Amo, or uncle, by local youth, throwing his niece up in the air.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

“Boys, do you want to do some action in front of the camera?” they said the Russian journalists asked them.

Mr. Saleh later took a Danish journalist to meet two of the young men. After searching online, they recognized the logo of the Russian state-owned news channel NTV, along with the Russians who had made the offer.

The journalist contacted NTV, which denied the whole thing. But besides Mr. Castillo, the night watchman, The Times found other witnesses who backed up Mr. Saleh’s account.

Elvir Kazinic and Mustafa Zatara said they were in the square a couple of days after the clash when they overheard another group of young men talking about Russian journalists and a 400 krona bribe to fight.

“To stoop to that level and offer kids money,” said Mr. Kazinic, a Bosnian émigré who serves on Rinkeby’s district council, “that is low.”

Mr. Zatara, a poet, knows well the consequences of stirring up anti-immigrant racism. His father, Hasan Zatara, a Palestinian, came to Sweden in 1969, earned a high school diploma and opened a convenience store.

Standing behind the cash register on a January afternoon 27 years ago, he became the final victim of John Ausonius, a serial shooter who terrorized immigrant communities, killing one person and wounding 10 others. Hasan Zatara was paralyzed.

Mr. Ausonius later said he was inspired by the anti-immigrant party of the day, New Democracy.

“When my father was shot in 1992, we had New Democracy,” Mustafa Zatara said. “Today we have the Sweden Democrats. Then, they wore bomber jackets and boots. Today, they wear bow ties and suits. It’s normalized now in the Swedish political corridor.”

After the commotion in Rinkeby died down, Russian news agencies kept calling the police, fruitlessly asking permission to ride with officers patrolling the district.

“This went on week in and week out,” said Varg Gyllander, the department’s press officer.

Last September, right after the Swedish elections, the requests abruptly stopped.

The Sweden Democrats had their best showing yet. Their nearly 18 percent share of the vote hamstrung Swedish politics, with the mainstream parties unable to form a government for more than four months.

The Social Democrats finally formed a shaky coalition that excluded the Sweden Democrats. But it came at a price: some prominent center-right politicians are now expressing a willingness to work with the Sweden Democrats, portending a new political alignment.

In February, the Sweden Democrats’ Mr. Karlsson strode into a Washington-area hotel where leaders of the American and European right were gathering for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. As he settled in at the lobby bar, straightening his navy three-piece suit, he was clearly very much at home.

At the conference — where political boot-camp training mixed with speeches by luminaries like Mr. Trump and the British populist leader Nigel Farage — Mr. Karlsson hoped to learn about the infrastructure of the American conservative movement, particularly its funding and use of the media and think tanks to broaden its appeal. But in a measure of how nationalism and conservatism have merged in Mr. Trump’s Washington, many of the Americans with whom he wanted to network were just as eager to network with him.

Mr. Karlsson had flown in from Colorado, where he had given a speech at the Steamboat Institute, a conservative think tank. That morning, Tobias Andersson, 23, the Sweden Democrats’ youngest member of Parliament and a contributor to Breitbart, had spoken to Americans for Tax Reform, a bastion of tax-cut orthodoxy.

Now, they found themselves encircled by admirers like Matthew Hurtt, the director for external relationships at Americans for Prosperity, part of the billionaire Koch brothers’ political operation, and Matthew Tyrmand, a board member of Project Veritas, a conservative group that uses undercover filming to sting its targets.

Mr. Tyrmand, who is also an adviser to a senator from Poland’s anti-immigration ruling Law and Justice party, was particularly eager. “You are taking your country back!” he exclaimed.

Mr. Karlsson smiled.

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On Guns, Public Opinion and Public Policy Often Diverge

Westlake Legal Group 10up-guns1-facebookJumbo On Guns, Public Opinion and Public Policy Often Diverge Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Polls and Public Opinion mass shootings gun control firearms El Paso, Tex, Shooting (2019)

Polls show that public support for tighter guns laws is rising.

Alone, that doesn’t mean Congress is going to expand gun control anytime soon.

Public opinion and public policy on guns have seemed to be at odds for decades. Measures like universal background checks often attract the support of more than 90 percent of the American public, but overwhelming support has not translated into overwhelming victories for gun control measures when they’ve been put to public votes.

And in general, Republicans, many in safe rural districts or states, are relatively insulated from national political opinion on gun control, and on other issues that tend to break along urban-rural lines.

But in the aftermath of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump has expressed support for gun control measures that he previously rejected. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has signaled openness to a vote on gun legislation, including possibly a background check bill.

Advocates for restrictive gun laws have seized on strong public support as an explanation for this change of heart.

The mass shootings are probably a factor in the shift in the polls. Polling from Civiqs, an online public opinion firm, shows that support for new gun control laws tends to increase immediately after a high-profile shooting. The shift tends to subside in the weeks that follow, but generally leaves support for gun control laws higher than where it started.

More traditional polls have also shown increasing support for gun restrictions. Surveys from Gallup, Pew, Quinnipiac, ABC and NBC all show a modest recent rise in the share of Americans who say they believe controlling gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights or who say they favor more strict gun laws.

These more broadly worded polling questions show a public that is much more closely divided than on questions about specific policies, such as expanding background checks or limiting gun sales to people suspected of being terrorists. Pollsters say the broader questions tend to be better predictors of true public sentiment.

The president himself could be another factor. Historically, public opinion on guns — and other issues — tends to shift against the preferences of the party in power. Public support for gun control laws slipped when Barack Obama became president and has tended to increase since his exit from office.

But even in the Trump years, public support for new gun laws has generally remained beneath the levels of the George W. Bush years or the 1990s, when Congress passed an assault weapons ban. Polls over the coming weeks may show support for new gun laws reaching even higher levels, as they did after the high school shootings last year in Parkland, Fla.; for now, public opinion looks more the way it did during the Obama years, when gun legislation stalled.

Mr. Trump’s support for gun laws, should it endure, may be a larger factor than the small shifts in public support.

Polls repeatedly show overwhelming support for background checks on gun purchases. They are favored by Democrats and Republicans, and among Americans who own guns and those who don’t. But ballot measures proposing expanded background checks did not result in resounding victories in 2016 in two states that tend to vote Democratic, Maine and Nevada. The measure passed by less than a point in Nevada and failed in Maine, even among the voters who chose Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump on the same ballot. A “no” against background checks received more votes than Donald J. Trump did in both states.

The wide gap between national polls and the results of state ballot measures illustrates the challenge of measuring public opinion on specific issues. And the ability of gun activists to whittle down support for gun control in a heated political debate raises doubts about whether the polls reflect strongly held public demands for action, as activists suggest, or weakly held views that Republicans and their allies could change.

Democrats have faced the danger that gun owners were likelier to cast ballots based on the issue than the potentially larger group of Americans who support gun control but perhaps not as passionately. It has been a costly trade for Democrats in the relatively white rural areas where the party has traditionally counted on the support of working-class gun owners.

As recently as last year’s midterm elections, many Democratic candidates who tried — and often succeeded — to win white working-class Democratic areas, like Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, played down the need for an assault weapons ban after Parkland. These Democratic concerns are far more pronounced than they were a decade ago.

House Democrats all but unanimously supported background checks earlier this year. And the 2018 midterms swept away many of the few remaining House Republicans who represent the metropolitan areas where opposition to gun control would most clearly work to the advantage of Democrats.

There are factors beyond the top line of public opinion polls that could give gun control advocates hope that this time might be different.

The most recent attacks pose new political risks to Republicans. The president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has been decried as a contributing factor to the violence, which may give Republicans new reason to take action. And gun control activists argue that some of the most recent shootings could have been prevented by so-called red flag laws, which allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are found to be at risk of committing violence.

Mr. McConnell has signaled support for a vote on a federal red flag law, and several Republican senators have said they would vote for one.

The sheer number of mass shootings may have also changed some voters’ views on the issue, according to research by GQR, a Democratic polling firm. It found that more than a quarter of voters had shifted their views about guns in recent years, many citing the recent violence.

Anna Greenberg, a managing partner there, said she had also seen a shift in recent focus groups she had conducted. The type of gun owner who had traditionally been skeptical of gun laws because they might not be effective has been more open to policies with the potential for modest effects. “N.R.A. and gun-owning folks will talk about: ‘We have to do something. This isn’t O.K.,’” she said. “And that’s a real shift.”

The longtime assumption that pro-gun voters are more politically active, and likelier to vote on the issue, than anti-gun voters may not be quite as true as it used to be.

In the midterm elections, 8 percent of voters said that “gun policy” was the most important issue, and they voted for Democrats, 81 percent to 17 percent, according to the AP/Votecast survey.

Pro-gun groups were outspent in the midterms, a potential marker in the decline of the groups’ influence. The N.R.A.’s role in blocking gun legislation is often overstated, but it is a factor, and both its public support and financial stability have been declining.

As with many issues, attitudes about guns have become more polarized in recent years. In 2000, a Pew Research Center study found that 40 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats said that gun rights were more important than controlling gun ownership. In 2018, the Republican number had risen to 76 percent, while the number among Democrats stayed steady.

“It’s become much more partisan,” said Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research. “It’s not an isolated case, but it’s one of the most stark examples.”

The partisan nature of the issue could make Mr. Trump’s support more pivotal. If he supports legislation, it could make it easier for Republican lawmakers to support new controls on guns.

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A Lesson for Equinox and SoulCycle: Even Sweat Can Be Political

In a different era, the dual statements that SoulCycle and Equinox Fitness posted on Twitter this week might have seemed radical: two popular American brands essentially disavowing a sitting president.

The statements were designed to distance the fitness chains from a fund-raiser on Friday for President Trump being held at the home of Stephen Ross, the chairman of the company that owns controlling stakes in Equinox and SoulCycle.

When word of the fund-raiser — and Mr. Ross’s connection to Equinox and SoulCycle, the indoor cycling studios it owns — became widely known, there was a furious reaction from customers. “We want you to know that Equinox and SoulCycle have nothing to do with the event and do not support it,” the Equinox statement said.

It was just the latest example of major brands edging away from Mr. Trump. But in an indication of how distasteful any connection to the president has become among some consumers, even those statements were not enough to stem the criticism.

The Equinox statement “was super inadequate,” said Wesley Rowell, who works as a membership adviser at the Greenwich Avenue Equinox, a popular location in Manhattan. “There are people who have quit immediately, canceled their membership with a lot of indignation.”

The backlash against Equinox and SoulCycle, which have locations around the country, demonstrates the reality facing corporate leaders in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election: Any company, even one that seemingly has nothing to do with politics, could find itself in the middle of a partisan storm.

“C.E.O.s and executives are basically being treated by the general public and consumers as politicians would have been in past cycles,” said Josh Ginsberg, the chief executive of Zignal Labs, a software company that works with marketing and public-relations firms. “There’s a real question of, ‘Are companies prepared for that right now?’”

Since Mr. Trump was elected, a number of major companies have taken public stands against the president or been drawn into disputes with him. After he moved to reduce the size of two national monuments in California last year, the outdoor gear seller Patagonia splashed a bold pronouncement across its website: “The president stole your land.”

Other companies have opposed the president on issues like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act or the Paris climate accord. And after the president’s tepid initial response to the violence at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, the chief executives of several major companies quit a White House business panel in protest.

Wayfair came under fire this summer for supplying bedroom furniture for immigrant detention centers. And what some people saw as an opportunistic attempt by Uber to attract business during protests over Mr. Trump’s travel ban inspired the hashtag #DeleteUber on Twitter.

Unlike those companies, SoulCycle and Equinox do not have any direct involvement with a controversial White House policy. But the typical crisis-response playbook still applies, experts said.

“There needs to be an acknowledgment of fault, which I haven’t seen so far,” said Matt Rizzetta, the chief executive of North 6th Agency, a communications firm. He added that the companies also needed to give “a demonstration of empathy for the customer, which, again, I haven’t seen, either.”

[Read about high-profile chefs’ pleas with Stephen Ross to cancel his fund-raiser.]

The problems for Equinox and SoulCycle began when media outlets reported that Mr. Ross, the chairman of the Related Companies, whose principals own majority stakes in SoulCycle and Equinox, was planning to host a campaign fund-raiser at his Hamptons home for Mr. Trump.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 09soulcycle2-articleLarge A Lesson for Equinox and SoulCycle: Even Sweat Can Be Political United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J SoulCycle LLC Social Media Ross, Stephen M Related Cos Presidential Election of 2020 Equinox Holdings Inc

Stephen Ross, the chairman of Related Companies, whose principals own majority stakes in SoulCycle and Equinox. He held a fund-raiser for President Trump at his home Friday.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

The hashtag #BoycottEquinox was soon trending on social media. Not long after, Equinox and SoulCycle posted their statements, which came out within minutes of each other and had similar wording. “Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business,” the Equinox statement said.

Chris Peregrin, a longtime Equinox customer who canceled his membership at the Greenwich Avenue location this week, said he was disappointed with the statement.

“They’re intentionally trying to produce a level of confusion around what’s happening in order to woo us,” Mr. Peregrin said. A number of celebrities, including Chrissy Teigen and Jonathan Van Ness, have also said they were canceling their memberships.

It remains unclear how many Equinox customers have actually quit the gym. A company spokeswoman declined to provide a number, or to comment on the wider backlash against Equinox and SoulCycle. SoulCycle does not offer memberships, but some longtime customers have said they would no longer sign up for classes.

A SoulCycle in Manhattan.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

But the fact that even some Equinox customers are leaving is an indication that major companies — no matter the industry — have to prepare for political firestorms, experts in crisis communications said.

“This is something that is coming up time and time again as we lead up to the 2020 election,” Mr. Ginsberg said.

Katherine Rosman and Jacob Bernstein contributed reporting.

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Past Flip-Flops Cloud Trump’s Position on Background Checks

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WASHINGTON — In 2013, Donald J. Trump said he supported background checks for gun purchases to “weed out the sickos.” Two years later, as he prepared to run for president, he flip-flopped, telling Ammoland magazine that he opposed expanded checks because they don’t work.

It is a recurring pattern.

As president, Mr. Trump changed his mind again in 2018 after the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., insisting that stronger checks would be “fully backed” by the White House. But that position only lasted a few days, until a late-night meeting with the National Rifle Association in the Oval Office, after which he backed off his support and later threatened to veto a background check bill.

On Friday, in the wake of massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Trump presented himself now as a deal-maker eager to bring Democrats and Republicans together behind tougher background checks.

But the president’s long history on the gun issue raises questions about his real commitment to legislation that would improve the background check system and close loopholes that have allowed firearms to be bought and sold at gun shows without any knowledge of a buyer’s history.

How far the president is willing to go — and whether his support for background checks is just another momentary reversal — is likely to determine whether the country responds to 31 deaths in two mass shootings with the first significant federal gun control measures in years.

Mr. Trump said Friday that there was “tremendous” support for “really common-sense sensible, important background checks” even as the N.R.A. and gun rights supporters vowed to oppose them. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was “on board,” the president insisted, and the gun lobby, which in the past has been brutally effective in defeating such measures in Congress, would “get there.”

“There’s never been a president like President Trump,” Mr. Trump said as he left for a 10-day vacation, bragging that he could overcome years of gridlock on the fiercely contentious issue.

On the way to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump stopped in the Hamptons, raising $12 million at two fund-raisers and telling his donors he was confident that lawmakers would agree to a deal on new gun legislation. He said the Senate doesn’t need to return early because the congressional leadership in both parties would agree on something that members could vote on when they return in the fall.

But Mr. Trump’s bravado will be tested once he returns to Washington by the reality of partisan politics in the bitterly divided city, as well as the looming presidential campaign and his own lack of ideological moorings on the issue.

Longtime gun control activists and Democratic lawmakers reacted with guarded optimism about Mr. Trump’s comments, but said they remained deeply skeptical that the president would follow through on his promise in the face of opposition from the N.R.A. and many of his conservative supporters.

“Trump has more opinions on gun safety than a Magic 8 Ball,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading gun control group. “If he means what he says, he will call Mitch McConnell up and get a pledge from him to bring the Senate back.”

If he doesn’t, Mr. Feinblatt said, “it won’t meet the moment, and it’s a clear cave to the N.R.A.”

It would not be the first time that Mr. Trump’s vacillation resulted in inaction. After ending an Obama-era program for young immigrants known as Dreamers, Mr. Trump said he wanted to protect them, but he repeatedly shifted his position in negotiations with lawmakers, who failed to pass legislation to give the Dreamers legal status.

Since last weekend’s shootings in El Paso and Dayton, some of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers have urged him to support background checks and to try to sway Republicans to join him. He has been in frequent touch with Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, and Eric Ueland, his legislative affairs director. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, has also been involved in discussions with other officials.

The push to get the president to do something took on more urgency after some of his aides conceded that he had been widely seen as failing a key test for a commander in chief by remaining at his private golf club after the El Paso shooting and crashing a wedding there on Saturday night, instead of giving a public address seeking to console a grieving nation.

But opponents of new gun laws wasted little time in trying to pull the president back to their side.

Rush Limbaugh on Friday told his radio listeners that Mr. Trump risks infuriating his base of gun-loving supporters if he makes a deal with Democrats on gun laws, much the way President George Bush did when he broke his promise not to raise taxes.

“There’s not a single new law that would change anything,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “The only thing a new law would do is it would drive a wedge between Trump and his voters and the N.R.A. Because make no mistake, they want your guns. They want every gun you’ve got as quickly as they can get it.”

Top officials at the N.R.A. have made it clear that they do not intend to change their long-held positions. The association’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said Thursday that additional background check measures being discussed in Washington “would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.”

Mr. Trump’s links to the group run deep, and a rupture between the Trump-N. R. A. alliance could have significant implications for the president’s re-election campaign. In 2016, the group was Mr. Trump’s single largest donor, contributing $30 million.

Last year, in a speech at the N.R.A.’s annual convention, Mr. Trump told thousands of raucous supporters that “your Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president.”

On Friday, he seemed to once again concede the sway the group still holds over him, stressing to reporters that “I have a very good relationship,” then quickly adding, “I will change it. I have a great relationship with the N.R.A.”

Privately, Mr. Trump has recently told advisers that he believes the N.R.A. is “going bankrupt” after internal upheaval at the organization, and he thinks they won’t have the financial means to harm him during the re-election campaign.

The president also faces a challenge with members of his own party, many of whom have built their political careers in part on their opposition to the need for more gun laws, including tougher background checks.

Mr. Trump’s aides insist that Mr. McConnell is more receptive than he has seemed in the past. Asked Friday morning why he thinks this might be the time for gun control legislation, Mr. Trump said, “Time goes by.” He added, “I think I have a greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.”

But Mr. McConnell’s office made clear that he has not endorsed any legislation, and Senate Republicans appear divided on what, if anything, could pass.

Mr. McConnell has signaled that he would at least be open to considering new legislation, including so-called red flag laws that could enable authorities to remove guns from people deemed dangerous by a judge. He did not, however, call the Senate back from its August recess to address the issue immediately, and on Friday, Senator John Barasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, expressed concern about the red flag approach.

“I want to make sure we protect our constitutional rights and whatever comes up will actually help solve a problem,” the senator told reporters, according to Politico, adding that he has “a lot of concern about the due process component” and does not “want to punish law-abiding citizens.”

Asked about background check legislation, which failed in the Senate in 2013, Mr. Barasso said, “I don’t expect things have changed much.”

Mr. McConnell has told Mr. Trump that he will have to work for the votes. But so far, there is no evidence of the kind of aggressive arm-twisting that the president undertook during the fight to pass a tax bill in 2017, aides on Capitol Hill said.

Some Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for gun legislation in the past were hopeful that the president was right, and that this time was different. But they acknowledged the challenge that Mr. Trump would face in upsetting a core group of supporters while he campaigns for a second term in the Oval Office.

“He is at a different point now than he was before, but I’ll believe it when I see it,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said Friday.

Mr. Blumenthal is sponsoring legislation in the Senate that would make it easier for the authorities to take firearms from people considered potentially dangerous. He and other Democrats say red flag laws and improved background checks go hand-in-hand.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, expressed deep skepticism that Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell would make good on their promises.

Mr. Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been demanding that Mr. McConnell allow a vote on legislation, passed by the House, that would expand background checks to cover all gun purchases, including at gun shows and on the internet. When the measure passed the House in February, Mr. Trump threatened to veto it.

“To get anything meaningful done to address gun violence, we need his commitment to hold a Senate vote on the House-passed background checks legislation,” Mr. Schumer wrote on Twitter, referring to Mr. McConnell.

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Trump Wants ‘Intelligent Background Checks’ and Says McConnell Is ‘On Board’

Westlake Legal Group 09dc-trump1-facebookJumbo Trump Wants ‘Intelligent Background Checks’ and Says McConnell Is ‘On Board’ Trump, Donald J McConnell, Mitch mass shootings gun control firearms El Paso, Tex, Shooting (2019) Dayton, Ohio, Shooting (2019)

WASHINGTON — President Trump said the time was now for lawmakers to come together and pass new laws for “meaningful” background checks on gun purchasers as he left the White House on Friday for a political fund-raiser in Southampton, N.Y., followed by a vacation at his golf club in New Jersey.

“We need intelligent background checks,” Mr. Trump said in brief remarks to reporters less than a week after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, left 31 people dead. “This isn’t a question of N.R.A., Republican or Democrat.”

He said there is “tremendous” support for “really common-sense, sensible, important background checks.” He added that he was confident that the gun lobby, which in the past has been effective in resisting such measures, would ultimately agree or “be more neutral.” And he asserted that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was “on board.”

But while Mr. Trump suggested there was a greater will now for new gun measures than after previous mass shootings, there were no new major signals on Friday from the National Rifle Association, the White House or Capitol Hill that action on the politically fraught issue of gun rights was closer to compromise or resolution.

The National Rifle Association’s position on new gun safety measures had not changed. The association’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said Thursday that additional background check measures being discussed in Washington “would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.”

The organization has succeeded in the past in convincing Mr. Trump to abandon certain gun control efforts. Mr. Trump on Friday said he had a “great relationship” with the association and reaffirmed his support for the Second Amendment.

Mr. Trump has not defined what “meaningful” background checks entail. On Friday, he suggested that a minor’s record, which is typically expunged when he or she turns 18, should be visible to those reviewing a prospective gun buyer’s background.

“I think a lot of really meaningful things on background checks will take place,” Mr. Trump said.

On Thursday, Mr. McConnell signaled that he would at least be open to considering new legislation, though he did not call the Senate back from its August recess to address the issue immediately.

In the past, both Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell have opposed legislation to expand background checks, including a bill the House passed earlier this year.

Mr. McConnell on Thursday said gun control measures the Senate would consider would include so-called red flag laws, which are designed to make it easier for the authorities to take firearms from people considered potentially dangerous. Those laws depend on someone — such as a friend or family member — contacting the authorities with concerns about someone before they act.

Some 17 states have versions of the red flag laws. Texas and Ohio are not among them.

Democrats have said that a red flag law alone would not be enough, and new legislation would have to include requiring background checks for all prospective gun purchasers.

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Trump’s Opponents Want to Name His Big Donors. His Supporters Say It’s Harassment.

WASHINGTON — For many businesses, a sudden deluge of phone calls might signal an influx of new customers. But most of the 25 calls Justin Herricks received before noon on Thursday were from people who wanted to tell him he was a white supremacist for donating money to President Trump.

“I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, we were going to use you for business, but we found out you’re a racist,’” Mr. Herricks, the owner of Precision Pipe Rentals, an oil and gas services company in San Antonio, said in an interview. “‘We hope that you burn in hell and your business will go with you.’”

The reason for the calls was Mr. Herricks’s inclusion this week on a list of 44 San Antonio-area residents who have maxed out their donations to the president’s re-election campaign. That list was shared on Twitter by Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves as the chairman of the presidential campaign of his twin brother, Julián. Republicans have accused the congressman of “doxxing” private citizens and trying to incite harassment of the president’s supporters.

A similar uproar over Trump donors is playing out in the moneyed enclave of the Hamptons, where real estate developers are hosting two fund-raisers for Mr. Trump on Friday. Progressives looking for a way to express their anger at Mr. Trump — and the people who support him — have threatened to boycott SoulCycle, the popular spin studio chain, and Equinox, a high-end gym, both owned by the billionaire developer Stephen Ross, who is scheduled to host the president at his Southampton home.

Calling out the people who fund campaigns is not a new tactic in politics, but the question of how much should be publicly disclosed about those donors has been an issue that Republicans, led by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, have repeatedly raised in recent years. While the Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 Citizens United case to uphold public disclosure — with Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s conservative stalwart, arguing later that without such revelations “democracy is doomed” — Republicans and wealthy allies like the Koch brothers have argued that it results in donor harassment and has a chilling effect on free speech.

In a heated political environment, boycotting the businesses of big donors like Mr. Ross has led to a new round of outrage at either end of the political spectrum.

“Everyone who cancels their equinox and soul cycle memberships, meet me at the library,” Chrissy Teigen, the celebrity and frequent Trump antagonist, wrote on Twitter. “Bring weights.”

But the Supreme Court’s support for campaign finance disclosure laws has a built-in exemption for people who can show a realistic threat of harassment, and the renewed scrutiny on Trump donors has also raised questions about what qualifies as donor harassment and who is entitled to privacy.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158714898_984a5d6e-c344-4db7-b605-dd62a2ef0b6b-articleLarge Trump’s Opponents Want to Name His Big Donors. His Supporters Say It’s Harassment. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J SoulCycle LLC Social Media San Antonio (Tex) Hamptons (NY) Freedom of Speech and Expression Equinox Holdings Inc Castro, Julian Castro, Joaquin Campaign Finance Boycotts

Representative Joaquin Castro, center, shared on Twitter a list of 44 San Antonio-area residents who have donated to President Trump.CreditBrendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“A big question is, has the internet changed that calculus?” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. “The general conservative view is that conservatives are being targeted for their general views and that there’s a lot of harassment going on.”

So far, he said, there is little evidence that the backlash against donors crosses that line. For Mr. Herricks, the Trump donor in San Antonio, his donation of $15,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fund-raising committee led by the Republican National Committee, and his $2,800 check to Mr. Trump’s campaign, have put him in the public arena, whether he likes it or not.

Economic boycotts are protected by the First Amendment, legal scholars said.

“If we see that people whose donations are highlighted publicly are being harassed, that’s a reason to be concerned,” Mr. Hasen said. “If the concern is someone will have a nasty tweet sent to them because of them being named by Castro, well, welcome to the real world.”

Others supporting an overhaul of the campaign finance system said it was more worrisome. “I’m not sure Mr. Castro’s simply throwing out the names of people with no ties to specific policy issues is helpful in this day and age of social media,” said Fred Wertheimer, the founder and president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit watchdog group.

For some Trump donors, the scrutiny has only made them more determined to support the president.

“The more they do this stuff, the more it’s going to backfire,” said Bill White, a former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. “More people are putting out their chests, standing up straight, saying: ‘I’m in. To hell with you publicizing my name.’”

Mr. White said he was planning to attend one of the Hamptons fund-raisers on Friday: a $2,800-per-person Trump Victory event planned for Friday at a Bridgehampton mansion owned by the real estate developer Joe Farrell. For people wishing to attend a V.I.P. reception and take a photo with the president the cost is $35,000, according to an invitation viewed by The New York Times.

Among the hosts of that event are Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and his girlfriend, the campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is also expected to attend.

Ms. McDaniel said there was a doubling down for Mr. Trump, rather than any fear of confrontation. “Whether it’s on liberal college campuses or in their Upper East Side gyms, the left has become obsessed with demonizing and boycotting anyone who disagrees with them,” Ms. McDaniel said in a statement. “For people who claim to be tolerant, they sure spend a lot of time calling half the country ‘racists.’”

Some Trump associates were surprised by the backlash toward Mr. Ross, who they said has become a frequent visitor at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla. Democrats were less surprised.

The developer Joe Farrell will host a $2,800-per-person fund-raiser for Mr. Trump at his home in the Hamptons on Friday.CreditGordon M. Grant for The New York Times

“Consumer brands have to be very sensitive,” said Thomas R. Nides, a top Democratic fund-raiser. “We’re at an unbelievable inflection point. If you’re frustrated and you can show your dissatisfaction by not showing up at a spin class, why not?”

Planning for the Ross fund-raiser began about three weeks ago, according to a person with knowledge, and continued as Mr. Trump indignantly faced down accusations of being a racist.

Mr. Ross had hoped to keep the event relatively private, but this week several news outlets, including the L.G.B.T.Q. publication The Advocate, highlighted his involvement in the fund-raiser as well as his ownership of SoulCycle and Equinox, and he immediately became a target of everyone from gymgoers who have posted their cancellation forms on Instagram to a wide receiver on the Miami Dolphins, which Mr. Ross also owns.

“I have always been an active participant in the democratic process,” Mr. Ross said in a statement. “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”

In Mr. Castro’s case, he has explained that his intention was not to harass. “My post was a lament,” the congressman wrote on Twitter, “that so many people in my overwhelmingly Hispanic hometown would give large money to a President who is using it to target Hispanics as ‘invaders.’”

Still, Trump operatives viewed the debacle as a savvy political move by a low-polling Democratic candidate, and also saw a fund-raising opportunity: “Joaquin Castro shared personal info on Trump donors,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a text message to supporters on Thursday afternoon. “Donate NOW.”

In the past, Republicans supported disclosure because they opposed public financing of elections and contribution limits. “But then McConnell basically brought the party around to where they haven’t supported efforts to close loopholes in disclosure laws,” Mr. Wertheimer said.

Some legal scholars have argued that in the internet age, when anyone can quickly look up the campaign contributions of their neighbors, it makes more sense to set a higher limit for public disclosure.

“The public doesn’t gain much of an interest in preventing corruption by knowing that one neighbor has contributed to the other party’s candidate,” said Mr. Hasen, the University of California professor. “What we really care about is big money in politics.”

Fielding calls on Thursday, Mr. Herricks, the San Antonio-based donor, said that he would “absolutely” give to the president again. He also said he had squeezed in a workout that morning at Equinox.

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Help for the Economy? Despite Grumbling, Trump Has Had Plenty

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-TAILWINDS-01-facebookJumbo Help for the Economy? Despite Grumbling, Trump Has Had Plenty United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) International Trade and World Market Interest Rates Federal Reserve System China

President Trump has complained that the Federal Reserve has been hurting the economy, first by raising interest rates and then by not lowering them fast enough. “No help from Fed!” he said on Twitter last week, in what has become a typical broadside.

But a New York Times analysis shows that under Mr. Trump, Fed policy has supported Mr. Trump’s push for economic growth. In fact, the central bank has kept interest rates lower than under any other president since Jimmy Carter, when adjusted for the economy’s output and inflation.

At the same time, Congress has provided an unusual level of fiscal support. Only one president in the past 25 years got a bigger lift from tax cuts and federal spending increases than Mr. Trump has since he signed the 2017 tax overhaul. That was George W. Bush, whose two terms included several rounds of tax cuts and deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stimulus measures have helped Mr. Trump’s trade war with China by buffering the economy against damage from tariffs imposed by both countries. But as the dispute escalates, that insulation may not be enough.

Mr. Trump has moved to add a new round of tariffs on Chinese products and to declare China a currency manipulator, while Beijing has canceled what officials had said would be new purchases of American agricultural goods. Economists warn that the moves will hurt growth in both countries, and that the Fed, in particular, has only so much help to give.

“Until the most recent escalation, it seemed that the Fed had at least been able to partly offset the drag from the trade war,” said Michelle Meyer, chief United States economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The Fed is attempting to sustain this recovery, and attempting to support growth, but there are clearly limits.”

After raising rates four times in 2018, Fed officials reduced them last week, to a range of 2 to 2.25 percent. Markets expect at least one more rate cut, and possibly two, before the year is out. That rate environment is abnormally low for an economy as strong as America’s has been during Mr. Trump’s term, the analysis by The Times shows.

The analysis draws on data from the Brookings Institution’s Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and a monetary-policy gauge devised by a Stanford University economist. It found that since the final quarter of 2017, when the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul was enacted and unemployment was just above 4 percent, Mr. Trump has enjoyed unusually large levels of fiscal expansion and monetary accommodation for a period of such little joblessness.

The federal budget deficit usually falls when the unemployment rate declines, with additional economic growth yielding more tax revenue. Mr. Trump has bucked the trend. Corporate tax collections have tumbled under the Republican tax cut he championed, and there have been bipartisan agreements to bust budgetary caps created under President Barack Obama. This past spring, the Hutchins Center estimates, tax and spending policy added more to economic growth than in any quarter since 2010, when the country was just beginning to recover from a recession.

Mr. Trump signed legislation for the most recent spending increase last week, a move that the Hutchins Center projects will add even more stimulus. That could be the last dose for a while: Congress is unlikely to push through another large tax cut or increase in spending before Mr. Trump faces re-election.

The budget deficit is on track to top $1 trillion this year, according to the administration’s own projections, which would be an increase of more than 25 percent from 2018. It has grown throughout Mr. Trump’s time in office, in dollar terms and as a share of the economy. Mr. Trump ran larger annual deficits in 2017 and 2018, as a share of the economy, than any president since World War II with an unemployment rate below 5 percent.

Mr. Trump frequently asserts that he has been victimized by Fed policies, and that the economy would have grown significantly faster on his watch if the central bank had kept rates closer to zero over the past two and a half years. He seemed unimpressed with the lowering of rates last week, and on Thursday he said Fed officials “have called it wrong at every step of the way,” adding, “Can you imagine what would happen if they actually called it right?”

Across most of America’s history, presidents with economies as strong as Mr. Trump’s have experienced Fed policies that are much less supportive of growth.

There are a few ways of thinking about how much the Fed’s policies are doing to help the economy at a given time. One is to compare interest rates set by the Fed with what economists call a neutral rate — the level, based on long-term trends like demographics and productivity, that would neither stoke nor slow growth. Another is to compare it with the most common monetary policy-setting equation, a rule named for the Stanford economist John Taylor.

Professor Taylor’s formula assesses growth and inflation relative to their potential and the Fed’s goals, and spits out a recommended interest rate. Comparing the gap between the actual rate set by the Fed and the neutral rate indicates the degree of stimulus being applied. Comparing the gap with a Taylor Rule recommendation offers another perspective, measuring the Fed’s rates against key indicators of the economy’s condition.

The neutral-rate analysis shows that Mr. Trump has benefited from Fed policies that are likely to stimulate growth, although to a smaller degree than Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush. Mr. Obama also benefited from a large-scale bond-buying program meant to stoke growth, and from the Fed’s pledges to maintain low rates for an extended period after the financial crisis, efforts that are not captured by the analyses. The central bank ran out of room to cut rates in 2008, when it slashed them virtually to zero, curtailing how much interest-rate help it could offer under Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama.

From late 2017 to this month, the Fed pared its bond holdings, making monetary policy more restrictive. But it is difficult to quantify how much that mattered to growth.

‘Ready to Rumble’: U.S.-China Fight Puts World Economy on the Brink

Aug 6, 2019

The Increasingly Bizarre Interplay Between Trump’s Trade Policy and the Fed

Aug 1, 2019

Trump’s Policies, Not His Heckling, May Force Fed to Cut Rates

Jul 16, 2019

It is true that the Fed could have left rates at zero under Mr. Trump, and policy watchers on the left and right have urged a gradual approach to rate increases with inflation remaining benign.

But it is also the case that officials have been extraordinarily patient by historical standards, leaving Mr. Trump with a growth-friendly policy climate. Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama both experienced recessions while in office. Adjusting for the strong economy Mr. Trump inherited, the analysis using the Taylor Rule shows that the Fed has set rates lower on average during Mr. Trump’s tenure than under any president since Mr. Carter.

Still, growth is slowing this year from its annual rate of 2.5 percent in 2018. Economists warn that it could slow further if Mr. Trump follows through on the threat to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports in September, joining the tariffs he levied on steel, aluminum, washing machines and other goods and prompting China to retaliate.

With other clouds forming over the global economy, including a manufacturing slowdown and possible disruptions from the Britain’s planned exit from the European Union this fall, many economists expect the Fed to cut rates further to support growth.

“The Fed has been increasingly responsive this year to trade war threats, bond market expectations, and global growth concerns,” Goldman Sachs economists wrote this week in a research note. They predicted two more rate cuts this fall, but they said that rising inflation would stop the cuts by December.

The Fed does have some ammunition. It has room for eight more quarter-point rate cuts, and it could engage in renewed bond-buying. Fed officials, including Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, have implied that the central bank could cut rates a little more to support the economy should trade concerns lead to an economic pullback.

For now, the Fed is “in a period where we’re looking at the data” and assessing whether additional cuts are warranted, Mr. Evans told reporters on Wednesday.

But the monetary policy runway is shorter than it was ahead of the recession of 2007 to 2009. At that time, the Fed started with interest rates above 5 percent, leaving it with far more room to cut. Lower rates help to prop up growth by making it cheaper for consumers and businesses to borrow and spend.

James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told reporters at an event in Washington on Tuesday that the Fed was reacting to a one-time increase in trade uncertainty and sought to rebut the idea that it would move to counter every new development.

“I don’t think it’s realistic for the Fed to respond to each threat and counterthreat in a tit-for-tat trade war,” Mr. Bullard said. “You would destabilize monetary policy, and this would create more problems than it would solve.”

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Andrew McCabe, Former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Sues Over His Dismissal

WASHINGTON — Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director who was fired for statements he made about communications between the F.B.I. and the press, sued the F.B.I. on Thursday, alleging that the dismissal was retaliatory and politically motivated.

The Justice Department engaged in a “politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018,” Mr. McCabe said in his lawsuit.

He added that President Trump “purposefully and intentionally” pushed the Justice Department to demote and terminate him as part of an “unconstitutional plan” to discredit and remove Justice Department and F.B.I. employees who were “deemed to be his partisan opponents.”

Andrew McCabe’s Civil Lawsuit Against the F.B.I. and Justice Department

Mr. McCabe, the former deputy director of the F.B.I., said in his lawsuit that his firing from the bureau was “politically motivated and retaliatory.” (PDF, 48 pages, 0.21 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Andrew McCabe, Former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Sues Over His Dismissal United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates McCabe, Andrew G Justice Department Federal Bureau of Investigation Comey, James B   48 pages, 0.21 MB

Mr. McCabe, 51, was also the subject of a scathing Justice Department inspector general report that accused him of violating the bureau’s media policy when he authorized the disclosure of information to the press and of misleading investigators about what he had done.

When he was fired last March, Mr. McCabe told The New York Times that he had been let go for political reasons. He was among the first F.B.I. officials to question whether the Trump campaign had questionable ties to Russia and whether Mr. Trump himself had tried to obstruct justice.

“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he told The Times. “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”

Earlier this week, Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. senior counterintelligence agent in the Russia investigations, also sued the Justice Department and the F.B.I. He said in his lawsuit that he had been terminated because of political pressure from the president, who was enraged by text messages that showed he had been a harsh critic of Mr. Trump.

“The F.B.I. fired Special Agent Strzok because of his protected political speech in violation of his rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” the lawsuit said. Mr. Strzok said his termination also violated his due process rights.

Neither the Justice Department nor the F.B.I. responded to a request for comment. The F.B.I. does not comment on pending litigation.

After Mr. McCabe was fired, Mr. Trump called his dismissal “a great day for Democracy.”

Mr. McCabe has long said that Mr. Trump’s public criticisms of him and his firing were meant to help discredit the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference and any role that the Trump campaign may have played in that activity.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said in his report released this spring that Russia had interfered in the election to benefit Mr. Trump. He said that the campaign itself had not conspired in that effort, even though it was receptive to help from Russia. Mr. Mueller declined to weigh in on whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice, saying only that he was unable to exonerate the president.

While the F.B.I. deems lack of candor to be a fireable offense, Mr. McCabe fought back against the recommendation that he be dismissed. The 21-year veteran of the F.B.I. appealed to senior career officials at the Justice Department, to no avail.

Two days before he was eligible to collect his full government pension, Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, said that he would terminate Mr. McCabe “effective immediately” for lack of candor under oath.

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Wife of American Imprisoned in Iran Cites ASAP Rocky in Plea for Trump’s Help

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-detainee-facebookJumbo Wife of American Imprisoned in Iran Cites ASAP Rocky in Plea for Trump’s Help Wang, Xiyue United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Princeton University Political Prisoners Kidnapping and Hostages ASAP Rocky

WASHINGTON — The wife of an American held for three years in an Iranian prison appealed to President Trump on Thursday to help secure her husband’s release, invoking Mr. Trump’s recent assistance to another detainee navigating a foreign justice system: ASAP Rocky.

The wife, Hua Qu, said she has seen no progress on the case of her husband, Xiyue Wang, since the United States withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018. “My husband and our family have become innocent victims in an ever-intensifying quarrel between world powers,” Ms. Qu, a Chinese citizen, told reporters in Washington.

She urged the Trump administration to restart diplomatic talks with Tehran — if for no other reason than to help her husband and at least three other American citizens known to be detained in Iran.

Mr. Wang, a naturalized American citizen and Princeton University graduate student who traveled to Iran in 2016 for research, was convicted of espionage — a charge that his family and colleagues deny.

“Mr. Rocky just quickly got released after two days of intervention from Mr. President,” Ms. Qu said. “I believe the ordeal of my husband and other unjust detention cases deserve the same level of attention.”

Rocky was released from a Swedish jail earlier this month, pending a verdict in his assault trial, after Mr. Trump sent his international envoy for hostage affairs to Stockholm on the rapper’s behalf. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in through Swedish diplomats, and Mr. Trump used his Twitter feed to press the case for Rocky — an unlikely cause célèbre in Washington who came to the president’s attention through celebrities Kim Kardashian West and her husband, Kanye West.

By contrast, this week marked the third year of Mr. Wang’s imprisonment, which Ms. Qu was quick to point out was twice as long as the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

In May, United Nations officials demanded that Mr. Wang be released from his 10-year prison sentence on what they called Iran’s absurd espionage charges violating rights that should be protected under international laws.

Ms. Qu said she was largely dependent on Swiss diplomats acting as a go-between for the Iranian government and the State Department; the last such encounter occurred two months ago. She said she also appreciated help from the Chinese government — which is a trade partner with Iran — but gave no details on what that included.

She said she last discussed the case with the State Department last week, but said, “there has literally been no progress.”

In a statement on Thursday, the State Department cited Mr. Wang’s “wrongful detention” but did not respond to Ms. Qu’s request for diplomatic talks with Iran to resume.

“We again call on Iran to return Mr. Wang to his family,” the statement said. “We are determined to secure the release of all U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees. We will not rest until they are home.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered in April to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the United States, which has charged or detained Iranian citizens accused of violating American sanctions.

But the already tenuous relations between the two countries plummeted in June, when Iran downed an unmanned American surveillance drone. Mr. Trump considered retaliating with a military strike against Iran but ultimately stepped back.

In the meantime, Ms. Qu said, her 6-year-old son is beginning to forget some of the times he shared as a toddler with his father. She last spoke to Mr. Wang by phone on Wednesday — a Chinese holiday that she described as the equivalent of Valentine’s Day. They spoke not of romance, she said, but of his enduring detention.

“We all know that nothing is impossible — all it takes is will,” Ms. Qu said in an appeal to the administration.

“My husband was criminalized only because of his American citizenship,” she said. “This must be resolved.”

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