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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 83)

Ukrainian Ambassador Was Under Surveillance, Documents Suggest

Westlake Legal Group 14parnas-facebookJumbo Ukrainian Ambassador Was Under Surveillance, Documents Suggest United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Politics and Government Parnas, Lev impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Fruman, Igor Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

New documents released by House Democrats on Tuesday offered fresh detail on the shadow diplomacy campaign at the center of President Trump’s impeachment, including text messages suggesting that the former United States ambassador to Ukraine was under surveillance while in Kyiv.

In a series of cryptic text messages, Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, communicated with another man who appeared to be monitoring the movements of the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch. The texts, exchanged in March on the WhatsApp messaging service, indicated that the other man, Robert F. Hyde, was in touch with people in Ukraine who were watching Ms. Yovanovitch.

“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” one message from Mr. Hyde to Mr. Parnas read.

It was not clear who was watching the ambassador or why. Lawyers for Mr. Parnas and Ms. Yovanovitch did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Giuliani had been critical of Ms. Yovanovitch, whom he and other Republicans have said was opposed to the president. She also butted heads with a Ukrainian prosecutor over the nature of his investigations. Ultimately, Mr. Trump recalled Ms. Yovanovitch from her post in late April.

The documents were part of a number of items that Mr. Parnas recently had turned over to the House Intelligence Committee as part of its impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman based in Florida who is facing federal criminal charges in Manhattan, did not testify during the impeachment hearings last year. His lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, recently turned over the records to the House, in response to a subpoena, after receiving permission to do so from the judge overseeing the criminal case.

The House is set to vote on Wednesday to send its impeachment charges against Mr. Trump to the Senate, and a trial could begin in the coming days.

In October, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed campaign finance-related charges against Mr. Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, another Soviet-born businessman who worked alongside Mr. Parnas to assist Mr. Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine. Two other men were also charged in the case.

The effort in Ukraine hinged on convincing officials there to open investigations that would benefit Mr. Trump politically. One potential investigation would center on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden; the other would involve claims that Ukraine — and not Russia — stole Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

After their arrests, Mr. Fruman remained close to Mr. Giuliani, but Mr. Parnas split from their alliance, vowing to speak out about the Ukrainian pressure campaign. His lawyer, Mr. Bondy, has since created a #LetLevSpeak hashtag on Twitter.

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House to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate as New Evidence Emerges

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-impeach-sub2-facebookJumbo House to Send Impeachment Charges to Senate as New Evidence Emerges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — On the eve of a historic impeachment trial, new details emerged of President Trump’s campaign to solicit political interference from Ukraine, intensifying pressure on Senate Republicans to include witness testimony and additional documents in their proceeding.

Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate for the long-awaited start of the trial, Democrats released a tranche of previously unseen records that bolstered their case.

It included dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records provided to the Intelligence Committee by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, detailing work the men did in Ukraine on behalf of the president.

Among them were handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, and a May 2019 letter from Mr. Giuliani requesting a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in which he said Mr. Trump had “knowledge and consent” of his actions.

The records also included text messages suggesting that Mr. Giuliani’s associates were tracking the former United States ambassador to Ukraine in Kyiv.

The material provided compelling new details undergirding the charges against Mr. Trump, and highlighted how much is still to be learned about the scope of his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election. Senior Democrats who led the House impeachment inquiry said the new records underscored the need for senators to demand additional evidence at trial.

“All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: The president and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the president politically,” they said in a statement accompanying the release. “There cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress.”

The evidence came to light as the House prepared to vote on Wednesday to send its impeachment charges — one on abuse of power, and one on obstruction of Congress — to the Senate, where leaders signaled that the tribunal would not begin in earnest until after the holiday weekend.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial,” Ms. Pelosi said. The speaker said she would announce the names of her managers at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and a vote to formally name them and send the articles was scheduled for early afternoon.

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, indicated that senators would be ready to receive the charges on Wednesday and take sworn oaths to render “impartial justice” in the trial shortly thereafter, if not the following day.

But after weeks of demanding the charges be brought forward speedily, he said the Senate would put off considering the terms of the trial or the substance of the case for nearly a week, until next Tuesday. That would allow lawmakers time to vote late this week to approve Mr. Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and give senators time to travel home this holiday weekend before the trial requires them to remain at their desks in the Senate chamber six days a week.

“We hope to be able to achieve that by consent, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday,” Mr. McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The announcements paved the way for a choreographed exchange between the two chambers that will unfold on Wednesday as they look toward the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. With little precedent to guide them, House and Senate leaders were working with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will preside over the trial, to nail down the timing of what was to come.

If all goes according to plan, the trial would officially open almost a month to the day after the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, charges that stemmed from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, then stonewall the House inquiry into his actions.

The White House, readying its own case, welcomed the progress toward a trial and predicted Mr. Trump’s eventual acquittal.

“We’ve been ready for a long time,” Eric Ueland, Mr. Trump’s congressional liaison, told reporters in the Capitol after huddling with Senate Republicans over lunch. “We could have started the morning after the House vote in December. We’re good to go, and we’re ready to go, and we’d be shocked if the House isn’t ready to go either.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign was already capitalizing on what promises to be a brutally partisan proceeding, circulating a fund-raising appeal signed by the president that announced, “We’re taking this fight to the Senate,” and asked supporters to donate to an “Emergency 2020 Impeachment Defense Fund.”

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump’s team was bracing for a potentially damaging period, inviting conservative activists to the White House to plan strategy for the coming trial.

Lawmakers were anxious, too, as they moved toward an unpredictable process that will test an already strained Senate, consuming lawmakers for weeks or longer. Debates raged in public and private over difficult questions that may darken the proceeding, including whether to call witnesses and compel new evidence or to consider a motion, endorsed by Mr. Trump but opposed by Republican leaders, to quickly dismiss the charges against him with no arguments or deliberations.

Mr. McConnell used an extended Republican luncheon to brief lawmakers on protocols and procedures. Heplayed down Mr. Trump’s apparent enthusiasm for a motion to dismiss, insisting that such a move was not viable.

“There is little to no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” Mr. McConnell told reporters after the lunch. “Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”

Mr. McConnell predicted that he still had the Republican votes to set rules for the trial next week that would put off a debate over calling witnesses until after opening arguments and senatorial questioning is complete.

“All 53 of us have reached an understanding very, very similar to the one that was achieved at the beginning of the Clinton impeachment trial,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.

Democrats argue that a trial without witnesses and new evidence would be a sham. Mr. Trump blocked the House from gaining access to both during its impeachment inquiry.

In her statement earlier in the day, Ms. Pelosi accused Mr. McConnell and Mr. Trump of working together to cover up the facts the House had unearthed.

“The American people will fully understand the Senate’s move to begin the trial without witnesses and documents as a pure political cover-up,” she said. “Leader McConnell and the president are afraid of more facts coming to light.”

Still uncertain is precisely when the House managers will ceremonially walk the articles of impeachment from the House chamber to the Senate. When they do, they will formally present the articles and read them aloud in their entirety, beginning the trial.

At some point after the procession, the chief justice will travel from the Supreme Court across the street to the Senate chamber to administer the oath to senators.

The team of managers is likely to be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who spearheaded the House’s Ukraine inquiry.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Schiff laid out his expectations for trial procedures, telling members that House managers would likely have 24 hours to present their case against Mr. Trump, spread over four six-hour days. The president’s lawyers would be given the same amount of time.

Mr. Schiff’s presentation appeared to be based on the procedures from Mr. Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. Mr. McConnell has said he plans to adopt similar procedures this time, but he has yet to release a detailed proposal, leaving the House in the dark.

“None of us have been through it before,” said Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont.

Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmondson, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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Priorities USA, Democratic Super PAC, Will Spend $150 Million on Anti-Trump Ads

Westlake Legal Group 14ads2020-facebookJumbo Priorities USA, Democratic Super PAC, Will Spend $150 Million on Anti-Trump Ads Trump, Donald J Television Priorities USA Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Political Action Committees Online Advertising Democratic Party

DES MOINES — One of the leading Democratic super PACs, Priorities USA, will spend $50 million more than previously announced against President Trump before the Democratic National Convention, with plans to make nearly $30 million in TV ad reservations in the coming days.

The super PAC, which had announced a $100 million campaign in early 2019, has increased its preconvention budget to $150 million, according to Guy Cecil, the committee’s chairman. “Donors are stepping up earlier than they have before,” he said.

The group will begin booking $30 million in television ads across four battleground states — Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — later this week, as well as $40 million on digital platforms like YouTube, Hulu and Pandora. The first television ads are slated to appear in Wisconsin at the end of February, with ads in the other three states beginning to air in the middle or end of March. The Democratic convention will be held July 13 to 16 in Milwaukee.

“These are the four closest states in any way you want to measure,” Mr. Cecil said.

The television ad campaign will go live months earlier than the group’s first anti-Trump television ads did in 2016, when they began to air in May. Mr. Cecil said more bookings were coming. “I would emphasize ‘so far,’” he said of the reservations.

“We think that the preconvention period is really critical, especially if the primary moves into late spring or early summer,” he added. “You can’t let Donald Trump define the election, whether it’s online or on television.”

The Trump campaign ended 2019 with $102.7 million in cash on hand, and the president was already seeking to shape the perception of the Democratic candidates, including in a series of Twitter posts on Monday.

Priorities USA is one of three major groups now running anti-Trump ads. The others are the campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, who has pledged to spend $100 million in anti-Trump digital ads, and a $75 million online anti-Trump campaign by Acronym, a nonprofit with an affiliated political action committee.

The combined $325 million eased some Democratic concerns from mid-2019 that the party was being — and would be — outpaced in online ad spending by Mr. Trump.

Priorities USA has been running anti-Trump messaging online since last summer, spending nearly $1.4 million just on Facebook in Pennsylvania in the last 90 days — making it, by far, the largest political advertiser in the state during that time, according to company data. The group’s ads hit Mr. Trump for a range of policies — cutting corporate taxes, raising health care costs or pushing his trade war — and sometimes promote news articles.

One ad currently running in Michigan, for instance, tells a story about the state’s shrinking share of the American economy. “Trump promised Michigan he’d bring back all the jobs, but his trade war has killed 300,000 so far,” it reads.

The group is not booking ads in every market in those four states. In Florida, for instance, Miami is missing, as are Tallahassee and Jacksonville. In Pennsylvania, the initial list of reservations does not include Philadelphia.

“Whenever you get into bigger markets, they just become less efficient,” Mr. Cecil said of TV ads, adding that there would be digital campaigns in those markets.

The most television money was being booked in Florida ($12.6 million) and its 29 electoral votes, the biggest bounty of any swing state. But Mr. Cecil said the three Midwestern states — each of which would have between $5.8 million and $6 million in initial reservations — were most likely to serve as the general election tipping point.

“These states are so close that when we do projection updates, the tipping-point state can change between Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin,” he said.

The single largest market for the Priorities USA television ads will be Tampa, Fla., with nearly $5 million. “Tampa, in almost every election for the last decade, has had the largest number of persuadable voters in Florida,” Mr. Cecil said.

But he warned against preconceptions about what those 2020 swing voters look like.

“When people hear ‘persuasion,’ they think white working class or Obama-Trump voters,” he said. “But in Florida, one out of every five Hispanic voters is a persuasion target.”

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Trump’s Impeachment Trial a Perilous Duty for Chief Justice

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-roberts-1-facebookJumbo Trump’s Impeachment Trial a Perilous Duty for Chief Justice United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Roberts, John G Jr impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. walks out of his chambers at the Supreme Court, crosses First Street and enters the Capitol to preside over President Trump’s impeachment trial, he will leave behind an institution that prides itself on reason and decorum and enter one marked by partisan warfare.

The chief justice’s responsibilities at the trial are fluid and ill-defined, and they will probably turn out to be largely ceremonial. What is certain is that they will be full of peril for his reputation and that of his court.

“It’s not a heavy lift, but it’s going to put him in a very, very unpleasant role,” said Philip Bobbitt, a law professor at Columbia and an author, with Charles L. Black Jr., of “Impeachment: A Handbook.” “I’m sure he’ll get ulcers.”

Any presidential impeachment trial thrusts the chief justice into unfamiliar and unwelcome terrain, said Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri and the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump.”

“This one in particular is so poisonous,” Professor Bowman said, “that he’s going to be concerned that any perception of partiality to either side will potentially damage the institutional legitimacy of the court.”

Chief Justice Roberts has plenty on his plate already, much of it related to Mr. Trump. He is working on a Supreme Court docket crowded with divisive issues, including three cases on whether to allow release of Mr. Trump’s financial records and one on Mr. Trump’s efforts to withdraw protection from deportation for young immigrants.

The Supreme Court is still reeling from a series of ugly confirmation battles that placed two of Mr. Trump’s nominees on its bench. And Chief Justice Roberts has exchanged sharp remarks with Mr. Trump, laying bare a fundamental disagreement about the independence of federal judges.

He seemed to allude to the dispute in his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary, issued on New Year’s Eve. “We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability,” he wrote. “But we should also remember that justice is not inevitable.”

And he set out a goal for 2020, knowing it would include the impeachment trial. “As the new year begins, and we turn to the tasks before us,” he wrote, “we should each resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faith fully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice under law.”

If there were a good time for Chief Justice Roberts to help determine whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office, this would not be it. But he cannot quarrel with the Constitution, which mentions the chief justice just once — and it is in the context of impeachment.

“When the president of the United States is tried,” Article I, Section 3 says, “the chief justice shall preside.” But the founding charter says no more, and just what role the chief justice is meant perform has proved baffling.

The framers of the Constitution had considered having impeachment trials take place in the Supreme Court. But they rejected the idea for fear the justices would have to recuse themselves from an appeal should the president be prosecuted for the same conduct after being removed from office.

“The framers instead chose the Senate as the place for the impeachment trial,” Professor Bobbitt said. “But they needed to replace the vice president, who is ordinarily the Senate’s presiding officer but here had an obvious conflict of interest. They settled on the chief justice.”

That constitutional design suggests that the chief justice would have “a ceremonial role to give some dignity to the proceedings,” Professor Bobbitt said. “You take the chief, with the majesty of his office, but strip him of any power so he can still sit on an appeal from any criminal conviction.”

At the start of the trial, which could be as soon as Wednesday, Chief Justice Roberts’s first official act will be to take an oath to “do impartial justice.” He will then ask senators to raise their hands and to make the same pledge. That scripted exchange will set the tone for the chief justice’s role the proceedings, which history indicates will be limited.

In 1868, at the nation’s first presidential impeachment trial, of President Andrew Johnson, “no one knew what to do,” Brenda Wineapple wrote in “The Impeachers,” her history of the trial.

“The Constitution offered no procedural guidelines to instruct the chief justice how to preside over an impeachment trial,” Ms. Wineapple wrote.

Chief Justice Salmon Chase insisted on having more than an incidental role. “He wished to rule on the admissibility of evidence — subject to the vote of the Senate — and on the reliability of witnesses,” Ms. Wineapple wrote. “His campaign to organize the Senate as a legal court was largely successful.”

More than a century later, at the second presidential impeachment trial, of President Bill Clinton in 1999, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did as little as possible.

Chief Justice Roberts is likely to follow the example set by the predecessor, for whom he served as a law clerk in 1980 and 1981 before Justice Rehnquist was elevated to chief justice in 1986.

Chief Justice Rehnquist was a student of impeachment trials, and he wrote a history of them, “Grand Inquests,” which was published in 1992. At the Clinton trial, he made only one ruling of any consequence, but it was one that helped define the chief justice’s role. It followed an objection from then-Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, who took issue with a Republican House manager’s characterization of the senators hearing his presentation as “the distinguished jurors in this case.”

Chief Justice Rehnquist sided with Mr. Harkin. “The Senate is not simply a jury,” he ruled. “It is the court in this case. Therefore, counsel should refrain from referring to the senators as jurors.”

John A. Jenkins, in his 2012 biography of Chief Justice Rehnquist, “The Partisan,” said the ruling was telling.

“It was a shrewd move on Rehnquist’s part,” Mr. Jenkins wrote, “because even though it seemingly reduced his authority it inoculated him against complaints about evenhandedness from one side or the other. If proceedings devolved, the senators had only themselves to blame.”

Years later, reflecting on his role in the Clinton impeachment trial, Chief Justice Rehnquist was self-deprecating, borrowing a line from “Iolanthe,” a favorite Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.

“I did nothing in particular,” he said, “and I did it very well.”

Chief Justice Rehnquist’s most memorable choice at the impeachment trial was sartorial. He had taken to wearing black judicial robes adorned with four gold stripes on each sleeve, and he brought the enhanced outfit to the Senate chamber.

The garment was inspired, the Supreme Court’s public information office explained in 1995, by one worn by the Lord Chancellor in a local production of “Iolanthe.” Chief Justice Rehnquist’s friends said the stripes were a refreshing bit of whimsy, but others wondered if they fit the gravity of the occasion.

In his 2011 memoir “Five Chiefs,” Justice John Paul Stevens recalled that Chief Justice Rehnquist had urged his colleagues to consider similar adornments on their own robes.

“We had immediately and uniformly given him a negative response to that suggestion,” Justice Stevens wrote. Chief Justice Roberts has shown no inclination to accessorize his robes.

Under the Senate’s rules, the chief justice’s decisions are provisional and may be overruled by a majority vote. “It would be as if a trial judge were presiding at a jury trial at which the jury always had the ability to overrule him by a vote of seven to five,” Professor Bowman said.

But former Representative Thomas Campbell, who was a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment and is now a law professor at Chapman University, said he expected Chief Justice Roberts’s rulings to stand.

“How would a senator feel about overruling a judgment on the merits by the chief justice?” Professor Campbell asked. “I think ‘hesitant’ would be the adjective I’d use.”

Professor Campbell suggested that Chief Justice Roberts would not hesitate to reject positions taken by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, saying, “He would not be intimidated.”

The public has had only passing glimpses of Chief Justice Roberts since his winning presentation at his 2005 confirmation hearings. Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, declared that Chief Justice Roberts “retired the trophy” for an outstanding performance by a judicial nominee.

In 2009, though, the nation saw a misstep — Chief Justice Roberts and President Barack Obama managed to botch the simple call-and-response task of reciting the presidential oath at Mr. Obama’s first inauguration.

A televised trial will subject Chief Justice Roberts to intense and unwelcome scrutiny, said Daniel Epps, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Everything he does — his body language, his precise phrasing — is going to get picked apart,” Professor Epps said.

In his judicial rulings, Chief Justice Roberts has generally been a reliable member of the court’s conservative majority.

The exceptions — two opinions sustaining aspects of Mr. Obama’s health care law, one rejecting the Trump administration’s efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census — have been hailed as statesmanship by liberals and denounced as treachery by conservatives.

In his 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump called the chief justice “an absolute disaster.”

Last year, after Mr. Trump criticized an asylum ruling by saying it had been issued by an “Obama judge,” the chief justice issued an extraordinary statement: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

At the impeachment trial, Chief Justice Roberts will have two goals, said Julian Epstein, who served as chief Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment.

“He’s going to look to be as ministerial as he can,” Mr. Epstein said. “That said, he’s going to bend over backward to look nonpartisan.”

Chief Justice Roberts will resist any attempt by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to rob the proceedings of their solemnity, Mr. Epstein added.

“Roberts represents in many ways the institutionalist,” Mr. Epstein said. “He believes in the institutions of the Senate and the judiciary and the separation of powers. In many ways what McConnell is doing is throwing his lot in with the anti-institutionalists —- the people who aren’t taking this process seriously.”

Professor Epps said Chief Justice Roberts is used to conflict, but only to a point.

“He has to deal with an unruly group of justices, and there are serious divisions,” Professor Epps said. “But the court, divided as it is, is just never as partisan as the United States Senate.”

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House Will Vote Wednesday to Send Impeachment Articles, Pelosi Says

Westlake Legal Group 14dc-impeach-sub-facebookJumbo House Will Vote Wednesday to Send Impeachment Articles, Pelosi Says United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Pelosi, Nancy House of Representatives Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — The House will vote on Wednesday to send the Senate impeachment charges against President Trump, allowing a long-awaited trial to begin, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats privately Tuesday, according to officials in the room.

The proceeding will be only the third time an American president has been put on trial in the Senate.

In a closed-door gathering with Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday morning, Ms. Pelosi detailed her plan to move on Wednesday to appoint the team of lawmakers who will prosecute the case against Mr. Trump, known as the House managers in his impeachment trial. The officials who described her private remarks spoke on condition of anonymity.

Unless things change, her timetable means that the House managers would ceremonially walk the articles of impeachment from the House chamber to the Senate well later in the day Wednesday, formally presenting them and prompting a trial to commence.

The speaker said she was not yet ready to share the names of the lawmakers she would select as managers, they said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Trump’s Supporters See U.S. Victory in China Trade Deal

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166902132_c0c9b3d9-c225-42b1-be91-4353afde4aca-facebookJumbo Trump’s Supporters See U.S. Victory in China Trade Deal United States Economy Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing Customs (Tariff) Agriculture and Farming

TOLEDO, Ohio — President Trump’s supporters nodded approvingly last week as Mr. Trump extolled the “big, beautiful monster” of a trade deal that he will sign with China on Wednesday.

The enthusiastic group, gathered at Toledo’s Huntington Center, nodded again as Mr. Trump insisted that America’s farmers, who have been hurt by the trade war with China, were winners and as he asserted, incorrectly, that American importers were not paying for the tariffs.

“And now the deal is done,” Mr. Trump said.

The packed arena roared triumphantly.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump will sign an initial trade agreement with Beijing that will help cool tensions between the world’s two largest economies but leaves many of the biggest issues unresolved. Key details of the agreement remain murky, the text remains under wraps and more complicated matters, like China’s financial support for companies that compete with American firms, have been pushed until after the 2020 election.

But to Mr. Trump’s most faithful backers, the president took on China and scored a major win.

“Instead of giving all the money to China, now we’re going to get some of it back,” said Kim Lewis, 65, a corn and soybean farmer from Jamestown, Ind., who drove four hours to see Mr. Trump’s speech. “He had the guts to stand up to these other countries.”

The optimism surrounding the outcome of the negotiations reflects the deep trust that Mr. Trump’s supporters have in a president who promised to stop China from “ripping off” the United States and has declared victory in rewriting the terms of trade.

Mr. Trump’s public selling of the deal, along with his rosy views about the American economy, have transcended any downside of his economic policies. Support for Mr. Trump and his trade deal remain strong in places like Ohio, where economic growth and manufacturing employment shows signs of slowing.

National employment data released Friday showed that 12,000 factory jobs were shed in December. Manufacturing employment has been slumping in the industrial Midwest in the last year amid the lingering trade war. Employment in the state’s goods-producing industries decreased by 10,100 from November 2018 to November 2019, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

For those devoted enough to Mr. Trump to brave frigid weather and long lines to attend a midweek campaign rally, any responsibility for economic malaise was directed elsewhere.

“Tariffs aren’t the answer, but Trump’s back was put up against the wall,” said Timothy Pedro, the Republican mayor of Waterville, Ohio, who noted that businesses in his town had been holding back investment as a result of trade uncertainty. “He had to do something.”

At the Toledo rally, Mr. Trump steered clear of specifics about the trade agreement, focusing on the promise that it will be enforced with the threat of more tariffs and the commitment he received from China to increase its purchases of American farm products to $50 billion a year — nearly double what it bought at the 2012 peak.

Critics of the deal have said it is unrealistic that China will ramp up its farm purchases so quickly. And they argue that Mr. Trump chose political expediency by settling for an interim agreement that would calm markets amid his re-election campaign but do little to resolve the administration’s biggest concerns about China’s unfair economic practices.

To Mr. Trump’s most ardent backers, however, the piecemeal approach was yet another sign of the president’s deal-making prowess.

“You can’t get everything at one time,” said Jeff Colwell, 54, a car parts manufacturer who lives near Columbus. “Anything we can do to equalize trade with China is a good thing.”

In agreeing to the deal last month, Mr. Trump reduced tariffs he had placed on $360 billion of Chinese goods and opted against taxing another $160 billion of imports. China agreed to enforce stronger protections for American intellectual property, open its markets to American financial institutions and commit to greater transparency surrounding the management of its currency.

The agreement provides Mr. Trump with a policy win to hail, but it also deprives him of a useful foil to rail against. China-bashing is a well-worn tradition for Republicans and Democrats in election years. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both criticized their predecessors for coddling China despite its human rights abuses and unfair trade practices during their campaigns in 1992 and 2008. As the Republican candidate in 2012, Mitt Romney assailed Mr. Obama for allowing China’s theft of American intellectual property to flourish under his watch.

Mr. Trump has made being tough on China one of his hallmarks and has spent much of his first term assailing it as an enemy and threatening to tax all of its imports. But polling that showed his tariffs were wearing thin on his base and a desire to score a policy victory ahead of the election spurred him to strike an interim deal.

Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who advises Mr. Trump, said that Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers have realized that the president’s supporters are less concerned about China’s record of human rights abuses or fears that it is an existential threat and more interested in having greater access to its market. He said that Mr. Trump appears to be shifting his tone on China away from the caustic rhetoric used by Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, in favor of an argument that shows how the president succeeded in “opening up” China.

“The concern of the base about China is not the demonization of China; the concern is the ripped-off jobs and lost trade opportunities, the money part of it,” said Mr. Pillsbury.

Democrats have largely struggled to settle on a forceful critique of Mr. Trump’s China strategy, accusing him of settling for a weak deal and warning that China may ultimately ignore the agreement.

Still, supporters of the president appear ready to blame China, rather than Mr. Trump, if the deal does not hold.

Randy Rothenbuhler, who owns a corn and soybean farm 45 minutes south of Toledo, said that his soybeans had been piling up in bins for the last year because of Chinese retaliation. He is hopeful that the new agreement will mean the reopening of China’s market, but he will remain skeptical until he sees it happen.

“That’s the billion-dollar question, will China live up to its promise?” Mr. Rothenbuhler, 42, said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Although Mr. Trump might have to shift away from lashing out at China in the wake of the agreement, he appears likely to make the case that he alone could have struck such a deal and that no one else can hold China to its word.

“They’re going to do what he wants them to do,” said Michelle Sellati, a forklift driver from Lima, Ohio. “If China just works with Trump, they’ll benefit, too.”

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A Narrative Collapses as Trump Tweets: ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-trump-facebookJumbo A Narrative Collapses as Trump Tweets: ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Schumer, Charles E Pelosi, Nancy Iran

WASHINGTON — In the 10 days since it carried out the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Trump administration has been struggling to draft an after-the-fact narrative to justify it. On Monday, President Trump put an end to that hash of explanations. “It doesn’t really matter,” he tweeted, “because of his horrible past.”

Until that message on Twitter, the administration had insisted in various ways that General Suleimani, Iran’s most important military official, was planning myriad “imminent” attacks. The unraveling of the explanations accelerated over the weekend after Mr. Trump said four embassies were under immediate threat, a charge that his own administration could not back.

With the president’s latest utterance, he bolstered critics of a strike that had raised fears of an all-out war with Iran and had led Iraq to call on the United States to leave the country. And, the critics wondered, was it reckless and irresponsible for the United States to kill Iran’s second most important leader if the reason did not “really matter”?

“Trump has finally admitted the true motivation for the killing of Suleimani who had American blood on his hands: retaliation,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, who is sponsoring legislation to prevent the administration from spending federal funds on unauthorized military action in Iran.

Mr. Khanna and other congressional Democrats, who have complained about having been left in the dark both before and after the drone strike, interpreted Mr. Trump’s tweet as proof that he must seek authorization from Congress for any future strikes.

“I’ll say it again: THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON’T WANT ANOTHER WAR BASED ON FALSE INTELLIGENCE,” Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, tweeted.

The administration’s explanations for the strike have been shifting from day to day, and Monday was no exception. Mr. Trump’s tweet came in response to unflattering articles about how Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper appeared to contradict the president’s claim that he believed there was an imminent threat on four American embassies in the Middle East.

But Mr. Trump said he did not see any inconsistencies at all.

“It’s been totally consistent,” he said late Monday afternoon as he left for New Orleans for the College Football Playoff championship game. “We killed Suleimani, the No. 1 terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person, killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people. We killed him.”

He added: “When the Democrats try and defend him, it’s a disgrace to our country. They can’t do that. And let me tell you, it’s not working politically very well for them.”

Still, the confused messaging from Mr. Trump and his top officials after the most high-stakes decision of his presidency threatened to undercut the message the administration was sending to Iran, experts said.

And that message was further undercut by other tweets that Mr. Trump sent on Monday morning. One of them included a photoshopped image of Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a turban and a head scarf in front of an Iranian flag, claiming it showed “the corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue #NancyPelosiFakeNews.”

The retweeted image was the most extreme version of a sentiment that the president spent the morning advancing by retweeting criticism of Ms. Pelosi, and suggesting that she was a supporter of the Iranian government.

Ms. Pelosi has criticized the Trump administration for the killing of General Suleimani, saying it risked a “dangerous escalation of violence” and was based on questionable intelligence.

The president’s stream of Twitter posts targeting her appeared to be an attempt to assail her credibility the same week she was expected to send two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate. The tweet was also a reminder of the way Mr. Trump has in the past harnessed fears of Muslims and terrorism for his own political purposes.

Responding on Twitter, Mr. Schumer asked, “President Trump: How low can you go?”

Dana Shell Smith, a former United States ambassador to Qatar, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump was engaging in “hate speech against an entire religion.”

Mr. Trump’s retweet was also not the first time Republicans have tried to link Democrats to the Iranian government through the use of doctored images.

Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, posted a photograph last week of former President Barack Obama shaking hands with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. That image, however, was revealed to be doctored years ago. Mr. Obama never met Mr. Rouhani in person.

During his presidency, Mr. Trump has also used Twitter to share videos posted by a fringe British ultranationalist group purportedly showing Muslims committing acts of violence.

“This tweet contrasts so starkly with the seriousness of the actual situation with Iran,” said Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama. “We are in the midst of a roiling crisis with Iran that is largely of Trump’s own making, and yet he continues to view that largely through the prism of pretty ugly domestic politics.”

Mr. Rhodes said the tweet underscored how Mr. Trump’s outlook had not changed since he first ran for office. “Trump views Iran policy as if it’s 2015 and he’s campaigning for president, not as if it’s 2020 and he is facing a crisis with huge real world dimensions for nuclear weapons, war and peace, and the Iranian people,” Mr. Rhodes said.

White House officials have often tried to sidestep answering for content that Mr. Trump shares online, but on Monday the press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, defended the photoshopped image. In an interview with Fox News, Ms. Grisham said the president was “making clear” that Democrats were “parroting Iranian talking points, almost taking the side of terrorists.”

She added that Mr. Trump was “making the point that the Democrats seem to hate him so much they’re willing to be on the side of countries and leadership of countries who want to kill Americans.”

Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee specifically targeted Ms. Pelosi for a statement she made on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, when asked whether she supported anti-government demonstrations there that have emerged after Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner shortly after it took off from Tehran.

Ms. Pelosi said there were “different reasons why people are in the street,” noting that the current protesters were reacting to Iran’s military admitting it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian airliner. She did not directly answer a question about whether it would be a “good thing if they brought the regime down.”

During Ms. Pelosi’s interview with George Stephanopoulos, she also said the Trump administration had not been “straight with the Congress of the United States” in its explanations for why it decided to target General Suleimani when it did.

The Trump campaign is hoping that the killing boosts his popularity. But a recent USA Today/Ipsos Poll found that a majority of respondents, 52 percent to 34 percent, viewed Mr. Trump’s action as “reckless.”

Mr. Trump spent the weekend expressing support online for the people of Iran calling for political and economic change, who participated in the largest popular protests in the country in more than 10 years.

On Monday morning, Mr. Trump lauded the protesters for supporting the United States. “Wow! The wonderful Iranian protesters refused to step on, or in any way denigrate, our Great American Flag,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “It was put on the street in order for them to trample it, and they walked around it instead. Big progress!”

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment about Mr. Trump’s posts.

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 13burisma-hack-facebookJumbo-v2 Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Presidential Election of 2020 Cyberwarfare and Defense Burisma Holdings Ltd Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, Russian military hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts.

The hacking attempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States.

It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.

The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.

Then, as now, the Russian hackers from a military intelligence unit known formerly as the G.R.U., and to private researchers by the alias “Fancy Bear,” used so-called phishing emails that appear designed to steal usernames and passwords, according to Area 1, the Silicon Valley security firm that detected the hacking. In this instance, the hackers set up fake websites that mimicked sign-in pages of Burisma subsidiaries, and have been blasting Burisma employees with emails meant to look like they are coming from inside the company.

The hackers fooled some of them into handing over their login credentials, and managed to get inside one of Burisma’s servers, Area 1 said.

“The attacks were successful,” said Oren Falkowitz, a co-founder of Area 1, who previously served at the National Security Agency. Mr. Falkowitz’s firm maintains a network of sensors on web servers around the globe — many known to be used by state-sponsored hackers — which gives the firm a front-row seat to phishing attacks, and allows them to block attacks on their customers.

“The timing of the Russian campaign mirrors the G.R.U. hacks we saw in 2016 against the D.N.C. and John Podesta,” the Clinton campaign chairman, Mr. Falkowitz said. “Once again, they are stealing email credentials, in what we can only assume is a repeat of Russian interference in the last election.”

The Justice Department indicted seven officers from the same military intelligence unit in 2018.

The Russian attacks on Burisma appear to be running parallel to an effort by Russian spies in Ukraine to dig up information in the analog world that could embarrass the Bidens, according to an American security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The spies, the official said, are trying to penetrate Burisma and working sources in the Ukrainian government in search of emails, financial records and legal documents.

Neither the Russian government nor Burisma responded to requests for comment.

American officials are warning that the Russians have grown stealthier since 2016, and are again seeking to steal and spread damaging information and target vulnerable election systems ahead of the 2020 election.

[Read: Even as American election defenses have improved, Russian hackers and trolls have become more sophisticated.]

In the same vein, Russia has been working since the early days of Mr. Trump’s presidency to turn the focus away from its own election interference in 2016 by seeding conspiracy theories about Ukrainian meddling and Democratic complicity.

The result has been a muddy brew of conspiracy theories that mix facts, like the handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized Mr. Trump’s candidacy, with discredited claims that the D.N.C.’s email server is in Ukraine and that Mr. Biden, as vice president, had corrupt dealings with Ukrainian officials to protect his son. Spread by bots and trolls on social media, and by Russian intelligence officers, the claims resonated with Mr. Trump, who views talk of Russian interference as an attack on his legitimacy.

With Mr. Biden’s emergence as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination last spring, the president latched on to the corruption allegations, and asked that Ukraine investigate the Bidens on his July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. The call became central to Mr. Trump’s impeachment last month.

The Biden campaign sought to cast the Russian effort to hack Burisma as an indication of Mr. Biden’s political strength, and to highlight Mr. Trump’s apparent willingness to let foreign powers boost his political fortunes.

“Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can’t beat the vice president,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign.

“Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat,” Mr. Bates added. “Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections.”

The corruption allegations hinge on Hunter Biden’s work on the Burisma board. The company hired Mr. Biden while his father was vice president and leading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, including a successful push to have Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired for corruption. The effort was backed by European allies.

The story has since been recast by Mr. Trump and some of his staunchest defenders, who say Mr. Biden pushed out the prosecutor because Burisma was under investigation and his son could be implicated. Rudolph W. Giuliani, acting in what he says was his capacity as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, has personally taken up investigating the Bidens and Burisma, and now regularly claims to have uncovered clear-cut evidence of wrongdoing.

The evidence, though, has yet to emerge, and now the Russians appear to have joined the hunt.

Area 1 researchers discovered a G.R.U. phishing campaign on Ukrainian companies on New Year’s Eve. A week later, Area 1 determined what the Ukrainian targets had in common: They were all subsidiaries of Burisma Holdings, the company at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Among the Burisma subsidiaries phished were KUB-Gas, Aldea, Esko-Pivnich, Nadragas, Tehnocom-Service and Pari. The targets also included Kvartal 95, a Ukrainian television production company founded by Mr. Zelensky. The phishing attack on Kvartal 95 appears to have been aimed at digging up email correspondence for the company’s chief, Ivan Bakanov, whom Mr. Zelensky appointed as the head of Ukraine’s Security Service last June.

To steal employees’ credentials, the G.R.U. hackers directed Burisma to their fake login pages. Area 1 was able to trace the look-alike sites through a combination of internet service providers frequently used by G.R.U.’s hackers, rare web traffic patterns, and techniques that have been used in previous attacks against a slew of other victims, including the 2016 hack of the D.N.C. and a more recent Russian hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“The Burisma hack is a cookie-cutter G.R.U. campaign,” Mr. Falkowitz said. “Russian hackers, as sophisticated as they are, also tend to be lazy. They use what works. And in this, they were successful.”

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Protests in Iran: Rage Over Downed Jet, as Lawmakers Demand Accountability

Widespread anger over the Iranian government for shooting down a passenger plane and then misleading the public about it simmered for a third day on Monday, with the police and protesters facing off in at least two cities and increasing demands from lawmakers for accountability.

After days of denials, Iran acknowledged Saturday that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner plane, killing 176 people.

A government spokesman, Ali Rabeei, said Monday that Iranian officials had not lied to the public when it insisted the plane crashed because of mechanical problems, but was providing the limited information it had. He said that President Hassan Rouhani had learned that missiles were fired at the plane only on Friday, two days after it crashed near the Tehran airport.

Demands for government resignations spread Monday from hard-liners, who support Iran’s clerical government and called for officials to step down over the weekend, to members of the more moderate reformist parties, Mr. Rouhani’s base.

Bahram Parsaie, a prominent lawmaker from Shiraz, said that it was not enough for Mr. Rouhani and his government to issue statements and that they needed to resign. He warned that if the president and his cabinet were not transparent with the public, Parliament would take legal action against them.

Ali Shakouri Rad, the head of a reformist political party, said the growing rift between the public and the clerical government had become insurmountable. “Covering up the mistake of downing the passenger jet with missiles was throwing acid at the image of the Islamic Republic,” he said on Twitter.

In a sign of the tensions between Iran’s clerical rulers and the elected officials, the government said Monday that it had disqualified 90 current lawmakers from running for re-election, Iranian official news media reported. The lawmakers, mostly members of reformist and centrist factions, account for roughly a third of the 290-member Parliament.

Several leading reformist politicians responded by calling for a boycott of the parliamentary election next month.

The over how the plane crash was handled also spread to the official news media on Monday, with several prominent state television and radio hosts quitting their jobs, saying they could no longer lie for the government.

Gelare Jabbari, the popular host of state TV’s Channel Two programs, changed her profile picture on Instagram to black and posted a public apology.

“It was very hard for me to believe the murdering of my countrymen,” she wrote. “Forgive me for believing it too late. I apologize for lying to you on TV for 13 years.”

The journalists’ union for the province of Tehran also issued a public apology for helping spread the government’s misinformation about the cause of the crash.

“We are currently holding a funeral service for public trust,” the statement said. “The first coffins are for state broadcast company and all media and websites.”

The union called on all Iranian journalists to no longer “amplify the cover-ups of officials” and to conduct their reporting with skepticism and independent investigations.

State television, however, continued to play down the mistaken downing of the plane, with one anchor saying “it was nothing compared to the main event” — the Iranian missile attack on American forces in Iraq hours earlier.



Ukrainian Flight 752: How a Plane Came Down in 7 Minutes

Iranians have taken to the streets in protest after the government admitted, after three days of denials, that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. Here’s everything we know about that seven-minute flight.

We first learned that it was a missile that took down a Ukrainian airliner over Iran because of this video showing the moment of impact. All 176 people on board were killed. To find out what happened to Flight 752 after it left Tehran airport on Jan. 8, we collected flight data, analyzed witness videos and images of the crash site, to paint the clearest picture yet of that disastrous seven-minute flight. We’ll walk you through the evidence, minute by minute, from the plane’s takeoff to the moment it crashed. It’s the early hours of Wednesday, Jan. 8. Iran has just launched ballistic missiles at U.S. military targets in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani. Iranian defenses are on high alert, on guard for a possible U.S. attack. Four hours later, at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, Flight 752 operated by Ukraine International Airlines is getting ready for departure. At 6:12 a.m., the plane takes off. It follows its regular route, flies northwest and climbs to almost 8,000 feet in around three minutes, according to flight tracker data. Until now, the plane’s transponder has been signaling normally. But just before 6:15 a.m., it stops. We don’t yet know why. But we do know the plane keeps flying. And within 30 seconds, a missile hits it. A video filmed here captures the moment. Let’s watch it again and slow it down. Here’s the missile, and here’s the plane. Where did the missile come from? Just a few miles away are military sites equipped with Iranian defense systems. A nearby security camera films a missile being launched from one of those sites shortly after 6:15 a.m. The missile hits the plane seconds later. An Iranian military commander said a defense system operator mistook the passenger jet for a cruise missile. The missile sets the plane on fire. But the jet continues flying for several minutes. We don’t know its precise path after 6:15 a.m. But we do know that it turns back in the direction of the airport, engulfed by flames. Around 6:19 a.m., a bystander films the plane slowly going down. There appears to be a second explosion before the jetliner plummets outside Tehran about 10 miles from where the last signal was sent. Footage from a security camera shows the scene as the plane crashes toward it. Here we see the immediate aftermath of the crash. As day breaks, another witness films the smoldering wreckage. Debris is spread out over 1,500 feet along a small park, orchards and a soccer field, narrowly missing a nearby village. A large section of the plane looks badly charred. More jet parts are found here. And the plane’s tail and wheels land over 500 feet away. It is a gruesome scene. The passengers’ personal items — toys, clothes, photo albums — are scattered around. After days of denials, Iran took responsibility for the crash, blaming human error at a moment of heightened tensions.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166953561_06e1cc97-db54-4a54-a482-c464887a1919-videoSixteenByNine3000 Protests in Iran: Rage Over Downed Jet, as Lawmakers Demand Accountability Zelensky, Volodymyr Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 Ukraine International Airlines Ukraine Trump, Donald J Tehran (Iran) Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Rouhani, Hassan Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

Iranians have taken to the streets in protest after the government admitted, after three days of denials, that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. Here’s everything we know about that seven-minute flight.CreditCredit…Akbar Tavakoli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Iranian attack, which caused moderate damage but killed no one, was conducted in retaliation for the American killing of Iran’s top military leader in a drone attack on Jan. 3.

Just hours later, a Ukraine International Airlines flight was taking off from Tehran before dawn on Wednesday, and Iranian forces were on high alert for an American counterattack. An Iranian crew, confusing the jet for an attacking craft, fired an antiaircraft missile at it about three minutes after it took off.

On Monday, the government closed the popular reformist news website Entekhab for publishing false rumors over the weekend that Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of National Security Council, had resigned.

Videos from inside Iran shared on social media on Monday showed university students in Isfahan and the capital, Tehran, chanting against the country’s clerical rulers while riot police officers were deployed nearby.

Thousands of students gathered at Iran’s elite technical university, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, 14 of whose recent graduates died when the plane was shot down. Some lashed out our Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“We want transparency,” said one student, addressing the crowd. “This country has not had transparency for years. You have lied to us. the state broadcast company has lied to us. You think we are all stupid. The supreme leader must answer to us about the country’s problems. Mr. Khamenei, why are you lying?”

The crowd cheered.

A group of over 30 artists, filmmakers and actors issued a joint statement on Monday saying they would not participate in the government-sponsored Fajr competition, Iran’s equivalent of the Oscars.

One of the signatories, the well-known filmmaker Rakhshan Bani Etemad, was briefly detained and interrogated for several hours after she called for a nationwide vigil for the victims of the crash.

There were no reports of violence in the protests on Monday, as there had been over the weekend, when there were videos of protesters carrying off bleeding comrades as gunshots echoed in the background.

The authorities in Iran denied that security forces had opened fire.

Late Sunday, Mr. Trump warned Iran not to target the demonstrators. Framing himself as a supporter of the media, which in other circumstances he has frequently disparaged, Mr. Trump exhorted Iran’s leaders to allow unfettered reporting.

“To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

In addition to the domestic outrage, Iran may also face demands for compensation from nations whose citizens were killed on the plane, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko of Ukraine told Reuters on Monday in an interview in Singapore.

Foreign ministers from five nations will meet in London on Thursday to discuss legal action, he said. The participants will include Canada, which lost 57 citizens, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sweden and another country he did not identify.

Mr. Prystaiko said Tehran had agreed to hand over the jet’s black boxes for analysis, but had yet to set a date to do so.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared since 2018, when Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of an international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program and imposed the first in a series of sanctions on Iran to punish it for what his administration sees as its destabilizing activities across the Middle East.

After a number of attacks on United States assets and allies in the Middle East in recent months, Mr. Trump ordered the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds force. He headed Iran’s efforts to direct allied militias in the region.

Those militias include an Iraqi group that the United States accused of firing rockets at a military base in Iraq late last month, killing one American contractor. United States forces retaliated against militia bases, killing more than two dozen fighters, and militias responded by surrounding the American Embassy compound in Baghdad, breaching its perimeter wall, setting fires and throwing rocks.

The killing of General Suleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport raised fears that Iran or its network of allies across the Middle East would respond against the United States and its allies, possibly igniting a regional war.

Anton Troianovski contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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U.S. Says China Is No Longer a Currency Manipulator

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-currency1-facebookJumbo U.S. Says China Is No Longer a Currency Manipulator United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Treasury Department Renminbi (Currency) Mnuchin, Steven T International Trade and World Market China

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration formally removed China’s designation as a currency manipulator on Monday, offering a major concession to the Chinese government as senior officials arrived in Washington to sign a trade agreement with President Trump.

The Treasury Department released its long-delayed currency report on Monday afternoon, providing its first public analysis of China’s currency practices since it designated China a manipulator in August at the direction of Mr. Trump. The report noted that China — which Mr. Trump had accused of weakening its currency, the renminbi, to make its goods cheaper to sell overseas — had made important commitments regarding the renminbi as part of the new trade agreement and that its value had appreciated since September.

“China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

As part of the trade deal that Mr. Trump plans to sign at the White House on Wednesday, China and the United States have agreed to avoid devaluing their currencies to achieve a competitive advantage for their exports. The Office of the United States Trade Representative said last month that the agreement would include a currency chapter that detailed “high-standard commitments to refrain from competitive devaluations” and targeting of exchange rates. The trade pact is expected to include an enforcement mechanism, which the office said would ensure that China could not use its currency practices to compete unfairly against American exporters.

Mr. Trump has long been critical of China’s currency practices, arguing that Beijing weakens the renminbi to make Chinese exports cheaper in the United States. Mr. Trump accused China of doing just that in August, when Beijing allowed its currency to weaken, saying it was an attempt to blunt the effect of tariffs he had imposed on Chinese imports.

It is a rare point of bipartisan agreement that China deserves to be labeled a currency manipulator, bringing together Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, and Republicans like Senator Rick Scott of Florida.

The decision to remove the label angered those and other lawmakers, who have argued that the president has undermined the credibility of the foreign exchange report by throwing the manipulation label around loosely.

“Just because we’re negotiating a trade deal doesn’t mean we should ignore Communist China’s bad acts,” Mr. Scott said on Twitter. “They are a currency manipulator. Period.”

Mr. Schumer, who has criticized China’s currency practices for years, accused Mr. Trump of caving to China in an attempt to score a political win.

“China is a currency manipulator — that is a fact,” Mr. Schumer said. “Unfortunately, President Trump would rather cave to President Xi than stay tough on China. When it comes to the president’s stance on China, Americans are getting a lot of show and very little results.”

The currency report released on Monday said China had agreed to “publish relevant information related to exchange rates and external balances.” China will remain on the Treasury Department’s list of countries whose currency practices warrant close attention.

The United States had last labeled China a currency manipulator in 1994. The designation, while seen as a type of public shaming, is largely symbolic. The label is supposed to prompt discussions between the United States, the International Monetary Fund and the Chinese government on how China can make its currency more fairly valued. The International Monetary Fund said in a report last year that China’s currency was fairly valued.

While most economists agreed that China had been distorting the value of its currency more than a decade ago, in recent years it has been allowing market forces to play a role in letting the renminbi fluctuate within a set range. For much of last year, Chinese officials had actually been propping up the renminbi amid a weakening economy to prevent its value from falling too quickly.

“China’s foreign exchange reserves, a key indicator of the degree of foreign exchange market intervention, has been quite stable over the last year,” said Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division. “While China still has a sizable trade surplus with the U.S., its overall current position is near balance, further undercutting the characterization of China as a currency manipulator.”

Treasury’s currency report noted that the renminbi was trading as high as 7.18 per dollar in early September and was recently trading at 6.93 per dollar.

Mr. Trump had promised as a presidential candidate to slap the manipulator label on China. Yet Mr. Mnuchin opted not to do so in the first five reports that his department issued. The department said China did not meet the department’s criteria for currency manipulation.

As trade negotiations with China dragged on last summer, Mr. Trump grew increasingly frustrated and seized upon China’s weakening currency as another source of leverage. Despite his own resistance, Mr. Mnuchin used his discretion as Treasury secretary to impose the label at the urging of Mr. Trump.

“They did it for political reasons,” Chad P. Bown, an international trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “Clearly there was no legal basis or really an economic basis to do so.”

Mr. Bown said that removing the label made sense now that the first phase of the trade deal is complete and that China probably was unhappy with the image of being deemed a manipulator.

Senior Chinese officials arrived in Washington on Monday to put the finishing touches on the trade agreement. In addition to the currency provision, the deal is expected to include a commitment by China to purchase more farm products and to open more of its markets, like financial services, to foreign firms. The Chinese are also expected to agree to protect American intellectual property. In exchange, the Trump administration has reduced some tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Still, while the administration offered China an olive branch on its currency, it pressed ahead on Monday with new plans to scrutinize foreign investment that were devised with China in mind. The Treasury Department issued regulations to implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, including exemptions for Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom from some of the more onerous requirements of the new law.

Mr. Trump’s currency ire has not been aimed solely at China. In December, the president said on Twitter that Brazil and Argentina were currency manipulators and that he would impose tariffs on their steel and aluminum imports.

Mr. Trump has since backed down from his threat to impose tariffs on Brazil and has yet to follow through with new tariffs on Argentina. Neither country was tagged as a manipulator or placed on Treasury’s monitoring list on Monday.

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