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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "United States Politics and Government"

Republicans Prep for Mueller Showdown and Counsel a Light Touch

WASHINGTON — House Republicans have tried to chip away at the credibility of Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry into Russia’s 2016 election interference since shortly after it began, savaging members of his investigative team as “angry Democrats,” and calling into question his impartiality.

But as they prepare to meet Mr. Mueller, the former special counsel, face to face on Wednesday at two high-stakes congressional hearings, some of the Republican Party’s loudest voices are urging caution against an aggressive confrontation. Victory, they say, could come with a light touch as much as pointed questioning.

“The obvious first question will be, ‘When did you know there was no coordination and no conspiracy?’” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the Republicans’ most recognizable attack dogs. He now sees Mr. Mueller as the ideal mouthpiece to deliver the conclusion that the investigation found insufficient evidence to charge anyone with conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Not every Republican is on board with a gentler approach. Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas rejected any suggestion he might pull his punches. “I can’t wait,” he said. Representative Matt Gaetz, a firebrand from Florida, pledged a pointed discussion of bias, which he has long maintained corrupted the investigation.

His goal for the hearing? “We are going to re-elect the president,” he said.

But with public opinion tilted against impeachment and Democrats’ investigations plodding along, many Republicans on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees are contemplating a “do no harm” approach rather than putting a match to Mr. Mueller’s image. Better to try to look reasonable next to committee Democrats, who they believe will struggle to knock Mr. Mueller off his conclusions.

“He exonerated the president on the collusion issue and for anybody to go after him would seem silly to me,” said Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado.

The strategy reflects two assumptions about Mr. Mueller’s appearance shared by lawmakers from both parties: first, that he will not take the bait to answer questions beyond the contents of his written report, and second, that his testimony before the House committees could be one of the most closely watched congressional performances in decades. For both parties, the hearings present an unusual chance to shape the views of a large number of Americans who have not read Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report, which was released in April.

The report did identify at least 10 episodes that could be construed as obstruction of justice, and Mr. Mueller pointedly declined to exonerate Mr. Trump. But he did not refer the president for prosecution either.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157811565_e7945543-ac9e-4b61-802d-bd8c22a502f5-articleLarge Republicans Prep for Mueller Showdown and Counsel a Light Touch United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican firebrand from Florida, pledged a pointed discussion of bias that he says corrupted the investigation.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

For Republicans, the hearings mean introducing a new audience to passages of the report more favorable to Mr. Trump, as well as to accusations that have become accepted truth on the right: Mr. Trump was the target of an unfair and rules-breaking investigation by law enforcement officials intent on upending first his campaign, then his presidency.

They are likely to question Mr. Mueller about inflammatory anti-Trump texts exchanged by two F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who helped start the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign and later joined Mr. Mueller’s team before the messages were discovered. Republicans intend to ask Mr. Mueller about the F.B.I.’s use of a salacious but unverified dossier of Trump-Russia connections to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign aide in 2016.

And they want to know why Mr. Mueller deviated from Justice Department regulations governing his work in declining to reach a decision on obstruction of justice but included unflattering information on Mr. Trump anyway.

What many Republicans want to try to avoid is making matters personal — the fewer “witch hunts” and incendiary accusations of a coup d’état by the so-called deep state, the better.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, promised “honest, pointed straightforward” questions for the special counsel but paused at the word “aggressive.”

Others cautioned against spending too much time fishing for Mr. Mueller to validate their concerns when he is unlikely to engage, or worse, could offer a convincing defense of his team.

“To me, it is not a question about whether or not we need those answers; it is whether this will be the proper forum or not,” said Representative Mike Johnson, Republican of Louisiana. “Strategically, can we get Mr. Mueller to address those issues in this forum? I have some doubts about that.”

Republican lawmakers and aides stressed that their approach to the questioning was still in flux and could shift based on Mr. Mueller’s responsiveness. Democrats negotiated both sessions directly with Mr. Mueller’s associates, and though Republicans have mostly supported calling Mr. Mueller, they have had little role in determining the length of his appearances or the procedures governing the hearings.

At least one question appears to be settled: Given the limited time for questioning, several people involved in the Republican strategy sessions said it was unlikely they would try to deploy parliamentary high jinks of the sort often used by the minority party to run out the clock. Better to fight it out on the merits, they have reasoned.

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, promised “honest, pointed straightforward” questions for the special counsel but paused at the word “aggressive.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The rest, it seems, may be sorted out in real time between more temperamentally moderate members and firebrands like Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Gohmert.

“The quicker this all goes away the better,” said Representative Mike Conaway, Republican of Texas, who played a key role in leading the Intelligence Committee’s own Russia investigation last term. “People are weary of it. When I talk to people back home, the independents are weary about this.”

Representative Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah on the Intelligence Committee, said he wanted to ask Mr. Mueller if he was aware of the political views of investigators on his team when he hired them. As for ad hominem attacks, he said, “I don’t think it benefits anyone.”

Julian Epstein, who was the chief counsel to Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, said his party took a two-toned approach to questioning the independent counsel in that case, Ken Starr, and found it worked well.

“We had the bomb-thrower caucus and the moderate caucus — and both played usefully to different audiences,” he said.

In this case, he said, Republicans needed only to play defense and “maintain the public opinion status quo.”

“The Republican playbook is pretty obvious,” Mr. Epstein said. “All they have to say is, ‘Mr. Mueller, can you repeat again that you believe there was no underlying criminal conspiracy by the Trump campaign on Russian interference? And did you say that while a reasonable prosecutor could prosecute on obstruction, a reasonable prosecutor might also decline to prosecute?’”

Republicans have been drawing up a litany of other questions to put to Mr. Mueller.

Mr. Stewart suggested that the Intelligence Committee would take aim at the F.B.I.’s use of the dossier — an uncorroborated document drafted by a former British spy and funded in part by Democrats — to obtain a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, after he left the campaign in 2016. Republicans say that action was an abuse of power by senior law enforcement officials intent on targeting Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“They are questions that deserve answers,” Mr. Stewart said. “The whole FISA process is extraordinarily concerning to me.”

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

Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats

WASHINGTON — For more than two years, Democrats have hoped that Robert S. Mueller III would show the nation that President Trump is unfit for office — or at the very least, severely damage his re-election prospects. On Wednesday, in back-to-back hearings with the former special counsel, that wish could face its final make-or-break moment.

Lawmakers choreographing the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees warn that bombshell disclosures are unlikely. But over about five hours of nationally televised testimony, they hope to use Mr. Mueller, the enigmatic and widely respected former F.B.I. director, to refashion his legalistic 448-page report into a vivid, compelling narrative of Russia’s attempts to undermine American democracy, the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Kremlin assistance and the president’s repeated and legally dubious efforts to thwart investigators.

For a party divided over how to confront Mr. Trump — liberals versus moderates, supporters of impeachment versus staunch opponents — the stakes could scarcely be higher.

“One way or the other, the Mueller hearing will be a turning point with respect to the effort to hold Donald Trump accountable for his reckless, degenerate, aberrant and possibly criminal behavior,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chairman and a member of the Judiciary Committee. “After the hearing, we will be able to have a better understanding of the pathway forward concerning our oversight responsibilities and the constitutional tools that are available to us.”

Partisans in both parties may already have made up their minds, but Democrats are counting on Mr. Mueller’s testimony to focus the broader public’s attention on the findings of his 22-month investigation — either to jumpstart a stalled impeachment push or electrify the campaign to make Mr. Trump a one-term president.

Even Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been a voice of caution on impeachment for much of the year, has tied the testimony to Democrats’ broader political prospects.

“This coming election, it is really an election that the fate of this country is riding on,” she told House Democrats at a private meeting recently, according to an aide who was there. “This presidency is an existential threat to our democracy and our country as we know it.”

Democratic hopes are rising on an unlikely horse. Mr. Mueller has made his reluctance to testify widely known, and his appearance could easily backfire. If the hearings fail to sizzle, the viewing public could be left agreeing with the president that it is time to move on.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155599239_f8f98b70-b3a7-452b-8f87-11114f3c019d-articleLarge Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III impeachment

Mr. Mueller has made his reluctance to testify widely known.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“A lot of public attitudes have hardened on the subject of Trump and Russia,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “So I’m realistic about the impact of any one hearing on public attitudes.”

No matter what happens, House investigators say their inquiries into possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump and other accusations of administration malfeasance will go on, and those inquiries could yet inflict political damage on the president’s re-election prospects or even re-energize impeachment talk.

But perhaps no other witness can command the authority of Mr. Mueller, who conducted his work in silence, above the political maw of Washington, and delivered it this spring with a modicum of words and drama.

Mr. Mueller is unlikely to level new charges on Wednesday against the president. Unlike Leon Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor who persuaded a grand jury to name President Richard M. Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator, or Ken Starr, the independent counsel who made a convincing case for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Mr. Mueller has left a more ambiguous trail.

His report detailed dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, painting a portrait of a campaign willing to accept foreign assistance. But it did not find enough evidence to charge anyone with conspiring with the Russians. And though Mr. Mueller pointedly declined to exonerate Mr. Trump from obstructing his investigation, he took the view that Justice Department policies prevented him from even considering whether to charge.

Mr. Mueller, 74, is unlikely to change course now — particularly after he used his lone public appearance in May to clarify that any testimony he delivered would not stray from his report.

“We go in eyes wide open,” said Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. “His style under the most effusive of circumstances is almost monosyllabic.”

Knowing that Mr. Mueller is unlikely to take the bait on more explosive questions, Democrats see their role as coaxing him through some of the most damaging passages of his report.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will have the first opportunity, and they intend to dwell heavily on five of the most glaring episodes of possible obstruction of justice that Mr. Mueller documented in the second volume of his report. They include Mr. Trump’s direction to the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to fire Mr. Mueller and then publicly lie about it; his request that Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign chief, ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassert control of the investigation and limit its scope; and possible witness tampering to discourage two aides, Paul Manafort and Michael D. Cohen, from cooperating with investigators.

Many lawmakers, including Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, view the behavior in at least some of those episodes as reaching the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors, established in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. They will try to solicit Mr. Mueller’s views — tacitly or explicitly.

“A lot of public attitudes have hardened on the subject of Trump and Russia,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “So I’m realistic about the impact of any one hearing on public attitudes.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“The overwhelming majority of the American people are unfamiliar with the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, so that will be a starting point,” Mr. Jeffries said. “To the extent that Bob Mueller can explain his conclusions, particularly as it relates to possible criminal culpability of the president, that will be compelling information.”

Democrats on the Intelligence Committee will use the second hearing to highlight evidence from the report’s first volume about Russia’s social media disinformation and hacking operations during the 2016 campaign and high-profile contacts between Trump associates and Russians offering assistance to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Republicans are expressing little concern about the Democrats’ strategy. Mr. Mueller’s style and his prosecutorial conclusions will “blow up in their face,” said Representative Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio, who helped prosecute the impeachment case against Mr. Clinton.

“Back then, Starr came out pretty clearly and said that he felt there were impeachable offenses that had been committed,” Mr. Chabot said. “Now we have a special counsel who, at this point, is saying no. We invested so much time and money and taxpayer dollars in this that we should give considerable weight in that.”

Time is not on the side of impeachment advocates. Congress’s six-week August recess is at hand. A fiscal deadline is likely to dominate Congress when it returns, and with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, the nation’s attention is likely to shift toward the 2020 presidential campaign. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that support for opening impeachment hearings based on current evidence had dropped among registered voters from June to July, to just 21 percent. Fifty percent said it was time for the country to move on.

Support in the House is somewhat higher and continues to grow with every fresh outrage Mr. Trump provides the Democrats, including an across-the-board refusal to comply with the House’s investigations and comments that four liberal congresswomen of color should “go back” to their own countries. A handful of House Democrats this week announced their support for impeachment, pushing the total toward 90, according to a New York Times tally.

And Mr. Nadler formally acknowledged for the first time this month that impeachment articles were “under consideration as part of the committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made.”

But the announced support is still far short of the 218 needed to impeach the president and send charges to the Senate for a trial, and moderate Democrats from Republican-leaning districts have quietly fumed at the position they are being put in.

As the most powerful Democrat against impeachment, Ms. Pelosi fears an attempt to oust Mr. Trump would backfire on Democrats and further divide the country unless her party can build broader support. She has counseled lawmakers “to have a level of calmness, no drama” about the questioning at the Mueller hearing, according to a senior aide, and she and her deputies will be watching how or if public sentiment shifts after Wednesday.

No need to “hype it,” she has advised — Mr. Mueller’s words will carry power.

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

Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats

WASHINGTON — For more than two years, Democrats have hoped that Robert S. Mueller III would show the nation that President Trump is unfit for office — or at the very least, severely damage his re-election prospects. On Wednesday, in back-to-back hearings with the former special counsel, that wish could face its final make-or-break moment.

Lawmakers choreographing the hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees warn that bombshell disclosures are unlikely. But over about five hours of nationally televised testimony, they hope to use Mr. Mueller, the enigmatic and widely respected former F.B.I. director, to refashion his legalistic 448-page report into a vivid, compelling narrative of Russia’s attempts to undermine American democracy, the Trump campaign’s willingness to accept Kremlin assistance and the president’s repeated and legally dubious efforts to thwart investigators.

For a party divided over how to confront Mr. Trump — liberals versus moderates, supporters of impeachment versus staunch opponents — the stakes could scarcely be higher.

“One way or the other, the Mueller hearing will be a turning point with respect to the effort to hold Donald Trump accountable for his reckless, degenerate, aberrant and possibly criminal behavior,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chairman and a member of the Judiciary Committee. “After the hearing, we will be able to have a better understanding of the pathway forward concerning our oversight responsibilities and the constitutional tools that are available to us.”

Partisans in both parties may already have made up their minds, but Democrats are counting on Mr. Mueller’s testimony to focus the broader public’s attention on the findings of his 22-month investigation — either to jumpstart a stalled impeachment push or electrify the campaign to make Mr. Trump a one-term president.

Even Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been a voice of caution on impeachment for much of the year, has tied the testimony to Democrats’ broader political prospects.

“This coming election, it is really an election that the fate of this country is riding on,” she told House Democrats at a private meeting recently, according to an aide who was there. “This presidency is an existential threat to our democracy and our country as we know it.”

Democratic hopes are rising on an unlikely horse. Mr. Mueller has made his reluctance to testify widely known, and his appearance could easily backfire. If the hearings fail to sizzle, the viewing public could be left agreeing with the president that it is time to move on.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155599239_f8f98b70-b3a7-452b-8f87-11114f3c019d-articleLarge Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III impeachment

Mr. Mueller has made his reluctance to testify widely known.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“A lot of public attitudes have hardened on the subject of Trump and Russia,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “So I’m realistic about the impact of any one hearing on public attitudes.”

No matter what happens, House investigators say their inquiries into possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump and other accusations of administration malfeasance will go on, and those inquiries could yet inflict political damage on the president’s re-election prospects or even re-energize impeachment talk.

But perhaps no other witness can command the authority of Mr. Mueller, who conducted his work in silence, above the political maw of Washington, and delivered it this spring with a modicum of words and drama.

Mr. Mueller is unlikely to level new charges on Wednesday against the president. Unlike Leon Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor who persuaded a grand jury to name President Richard M. Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator, or Ken Starr, the independent counsel who made a convincing case for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Mr. Mueller has left a more ambiguous trail.

His report detailed dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, painting a portrait of a campaign willing to accept foreign assistance. But it did not find enough evidence to charge anyone with conspiring with the Russians. And though Mr. Mueller pointedly declined to exonerate Mr. Trump from obstructing his investigation, he took the view that Justice Department policies prevented him from even considering whether to charge.

Mr. Mueller, 74, is unlikely to change course now — particularly after he used his lone public appearance in May to clarify that any testimony he delivered would not stray from his report.

“We go in eyes wide open,” said Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. “His style under the most effusive of circumstances is almost monosyllabic.”

Knowing that Mr. Mueller is unlikely to take the bait on more explosive questions, Democrats see their role as coaxing him through some of the most damaging passages of his report.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will have the first opportunity, and they intend to dwell heavily on five of the most glaring episodes of possible obstruction of justice that Mr. Mueller documented in the second volume of his report. They include Mr. Trump’s direction to the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to fire Mr. Mueller and then publicly lie about it; his request that Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign chief, ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassert control of the investigation and limit its scope; and possible witness tampering to discourage two aides, Paul Manafort and Michael D. Cohen, from cooperating with investigators.

Many lawmakers, including Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, view the behavior in at least some of those episodes as reaching the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors, established in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. They will try to solicit Mr. Mueller’s views — tacitly or explicitly.

“A lot of public attitudes have hardened on the subject of Trump and Russia,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. “So I’m realistic about the impact of any one hearing on public attitudes.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“The overwhelming majority of the American people are unfamiliar with the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, so that will be a starting point,” Mr. Jeffries said. “To the extent that Bob Mueller can explain his conclusions, particularly as it relates to possible criminal culpability of the president, that will be compelling information.”

Democrats on the Intelligence Committee will use the second hearing to highlight evidence from the report’s first volume about Russia’s social media disinformation and hacking operations during the 2016 campaign and high-profile contacts between Trump associates and Russians offering assistance to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Republicans are expressing little concern about the Democrats’ strategy. Mr. Mueller’s style and his prosecutorial conclusions will “blow up in their face,” said Representative Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio, who helped prosecute the impeachment case against Mr. Clinton.

“Back then, Starr came out pretty clearly and said that he felt there were impeachable offenses that had been committed,” Mr. Chabot said. “Now we have a special counsel who, at this point, is saying no. We invested so much time and money and taxpayer dollars in this that we should give considerable weight in that.”

Time is not on the side of impeachment advocates. Congress’s six-week August recess is at hand. A fiscal deadline is likely to dominate Congress when it returns, and with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, the nation’s attention is likely to shift toward the 2020 presidential campaign. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that support for opening impeachment hearings based on current evidence had dropped among registered voters from June to July, to just 21 percent. Fifty percent said it was time for the country to move on.

Support in the House is somewhat higher and continues to grow with every fresh outrage Mr. Trump provides the Democrats, including an across-the-board refusal to comply with the House’s investigations and comments that four liberal congresswomen of color should “go back” to their own countries. A handful of House Democrats this week announced their support for impeachment, pushing the total toward 90, according to a New York Times tally.

And Mr. Nadler formally acknowledged for the first time this month that impeachment articles were “under consideration as part of the committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made.”

But the announced support is still far short of the 218 needed to impeach the president and send charges to the Senate for a trial, and moderate Democrats from Republican-leaning districts have quietly fumed at the position they are being put in.

As the most powerful Democrat against impeachment, Ms. Pelosi fears an attempt to oust Mr. Trump would backfire on Democrats and further divide the country unless her party can build broader support. She has counseled lawmakers “to have a level of calmness, no drama” about the questioning at the Mueller hearing, according to a senior aide, and she and her deputies will be watching how or if public sentiment shifts after Wednesday.

No need to “hype it,” she has advised — Mr. Mueller’s words will carry power.

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

Trump’s Labor Pick Has Defended Corporations, and One Killer Whale

Eugene Scalia, whom President Trump intends to nominate as labor secretary, is often hired by companies when they are sued by workers, or when they want to push back against new employment laws and regulations.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised him as an “excellent choice,” saying he would be a valuable asset to the department as it finalizes several regulations.

Senators, especially Democrats, are sure to closely study his long career working on behalf of corporate clients, which was interrupted by a brief tenure as the Labor Department’s top lawyer.

Mr. Scalia, who is the son of the deceased Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, is perhaps best known for his opposition to a regulation that would have mandated greater protections for workers at risk of repetitive stress injuries. But he played a role in several other prominent cases, representing the financial industry and companies like UPS and SeaWorld. Here are three important issues he worked on.

The Obama Labor Department spent six years developing a new rule for how brokers and other financial professionals advised clients on their retirement accounts. Under the old rule, advisers had been required to provide investing advice that was “suitable.” The new rule, which the Obama administration finalized in 2016, required brokers to act as fiduciaries, meaning they would have to provide advice that was in the best interest of their clients.

The administration estimated that conflicts of interest arising under the old standard cost Americans about $17 billion a year.

Mr. Scalia was part of a team at his law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that sued to block the rule on behalf of several industry groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Financial Services Roundtable. The groups argued that the regulation would harm less-affluent investors because firms would simply stop offering them advice to avoid exposing themselves to liability.

Mr. Scalia called the rule a prime example of “regulatory overreach” in an interview with the author of a newsletter. He said investment advice should be overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and state insurance regulators, not the Labor Department.

Mr. Scalia and his team lost in a trial court in early 2017, after which Alex Acosta, the labor secretary Mr. Scalia will replace, said there was no principled legal basis for delaying initial application of the rule and began to partially adopt it. But Mr. Scalia’s team continued the fight before a federal appeals court, which ultimately ruled in their favor the following year. The rule died when the Trump administration declined further legal challenges.

More about Mr. Scalia and the Labor Department
Trump to Nominate Eugene Scalia for Labor Secretary Job

July 18, 2019

Trump’s New Top Labor Official Is Expected to Advance an Anti-Labor Agenda

July 16, 2019

Acosta to Resign as Labor Secretary Over Jeffrey Epstein Plea Deal

July 12, 2019

Mr. Scalia was part of legal teams that defended UPS against claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act in two cases during the late 1990s and 2000s. In the first case, UPS employees who could only see with one eye sued the company for refusing to allow them to become drivers, arguing that the company’s policy had discriminated against people who were capable of operating vehicles safely. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought the case, but UPS largely prevailed in two separate appeals.

In the second case, some UPS employees claimed that the company had refused to let them return to work after they had suffered on-the-job injuries because they were unable to perform all the responsibilities of their previous jobs. The workers argued that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing accommodations that would let them resume work.

A lower court certified the case as a class action, but Mr. Scalia and his team successfully argued that the court should not have allowed the plaintiffs to bring their claims jointly before first investigating whether each one should be allowed to return to work under the disability law based on their individual circumstances. An appeals court ruled in the company’s favor in 2009.

Peter Blanck, a professor at Syracuse University who has written extensively about the disabilities law, said that class action suits are often critical to allowing individuals to realize their rights under the law. Absent the class certification, the plaintiffs agreed to a settlement with the company.

In these and other lawsuits involving his clients, Mr. Scalia has “consistently sought to narrow A.D.A. protections on a variety of issues, including the definition of disability and class certification” Douglas Kruse and Lisa Schur, two experts on the employment of people with disabilities at Rutgers University, said in an email.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_116291426_6c8717c1-42e4-42e2-b473-9e80fbefdd22-articleLarge Trump’s Labor Pick Has Defended Corporations, and One Killer Whale Workplace Hazards and Violations United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Scalia, Eugene Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Labor Department (US) Labor and Jobs GIBSON, DUNN&CRUTCHER Appointments and Executive Changes

Tilikum, a killer whale, during a 2009 show at SeaWorld. Mr. Scalia represented the company in a case stemming from the death of one of its trainers.CreditMathieu Belanger /Reuters

In 2010, a killer whale attacked and killed a SeaWorld trainer named Dawn Brancheau. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Labor Department, investigated and concluded that SeaWorld either knew or should have known that the whale posed a threat to humans and should have taken steps to protect trainers.

The government’s argument prevailed before an administrative law judge, and then again in federal court, where Mr. Scalia’s firm represented SeaWorld. When the company appealed to a federal court in Washington, Mr. Scalia argued on its behalf.

Mr. Scalia and his team maintained that Congress had never intended for the safety administration to regulate an occupation like training and performing with killer whales. They further argued that SeaWorld already had adequate safety measures in place, and that the trainers had accepted the risks inherent in their jobs and that it was their responsibility to manage these risks.

David Michaels, the head of the safety administration at the time, said that it was true that the agency did not have much experience on the subject of killer whales, but it had a responsibility to cover the entire American work force. “We researched the question of what’s known about killer whales, we researched this particular killer whale,” Dr. Michaels said, “and we thought we made the right decision” to bring the case.

Except for the question of whether the company had willfully exposed its trainers to danger, the courts largely agreed with the government. The appeals court rejected Mr. Scalia’s arguments in a 2-to-1 decision, and the company did not appeal the case further.

But should a similar case arise if he is confirmed as labor secretary, the argument Mr. Scalia made might have more currency. The lone dissent in his favor was written by Brett Kavanaugh, who was then a judge on the appeals court and is now on the Supreme Court.

Many sports and entertainment activities, from professional football to the circus, pose hazards to those who participate in them, Mr. Kavanaugh wrote in his dissent.

But, he continued, “it is simply not plausible to assert that Congress, when passing the Occupational Safety and Health Act, silently intended to authorize the Department of Labor to eliminate familiar sports and entertainment practices, such as punt returns in the N.F.L., speeding in Nascar, or the whale show at SeaWorld.”

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

In Another About-Face, Trump Refuses to Condemn ‘Send Her Back’ Chant

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-memo-facebookJumbo In Another About-Face, Trump Refuses to Condemn ‘Send Her Back’ Chant United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Schlapp, Mercedes Race and Ethnicity Omar, Ilhan Kristol, William Greenville (NC) Charlottesville, Va, Violence (August, 2017) Charlottesville (Va) Brinkley, Douglas G

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday demonstrated the limited influence of allies or advisers who try to steer him away from pre-election racial and cultural fights. He walked back his disavowal of a racially loaded chant at a campaign rally less than 24 hours after making it.

Acquiescing to behind-the-scenes pressure from nervous Republican lawmakers and from his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, the president distanced himself on Thursday from the chant of “Send her back!” that the crowd at his rally on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C., directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia. Mr. Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant’s language and claimed, falsely, that he had tried to cut it off.

But on Friday, the president appeared to disavow his disavowal — following the same three-stage crisis playbook he used after setting off a wave of criticism when he defended neo-Nazi protesters in 2017 Charlottesville, Va.

“No, you know what I’m unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country,” Mr. Trump said on Friday, referring to Ms. Omar, when he was asked about the chant condemned by Republicans as well as Democrats. “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman, in this case a different congresswoman, can call our country and our people ‘garbage.’ That’s what I’m unhappy with.”

Mr. Trump defended the crowd as “incredible patriots” and said that Ms. Omar, who was elected last November, was “lucky to be where she is.”

When asked about the chant again later in the day as he left Washington to spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump refused to condemn them. Instead, he seemed to be repeating his criticism of Ms. Omar and her allies in Congress without mentioning any names.

“You know what’s racist to me, when someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country,” he said. “The people of our country that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate — that to me is really a dangerous thing.”

The reversal followed the same pattern as the one after Charlottesville.

After Mr. Trump’s original response to the violence that took place there in August 2017, a low point of his presidency, aides urged him to take the high ground. Days later, he finally relented, reading a brief prepared statement from the Diplomatic Room in the White House in which he, for the first time, unequivocally condemned neo-Nazi groups and stated that “racism is evil.”

But the next day, he reverted to his original stance in a combative exchange with reporters in which he again blamed both sides for the violence that left one demonstrator dead and dozens injured. But while business leaders and Republican lawmakers briefly distanced themselves from the president at the time, Mr. Trump appears to have suffered little long-term political damage because of the episode — and that lesson appears to have made an impression.

“It just destroys him to seem to be abandoning his base on any issue,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian. “When he originally said he distanced himself from the chant at the rally, one could have guessed he would go back and embrace the people who cheered ‘Send her back!’ Contrite is not in his playbook.”

But even some critics of Mr. Trump said that the walkback of the walkback was not necessarily damaging to him. “I wish I could say it was foolish, but what have the actual consequences been in the real world or in Republican support of him sticking to his guns?” said William Kristol, the conservative columnist and prominent Trump opponent. “Being the tough, unapologetic guy, it keeps his brand stronger even if he takes a little bit of a hit.”

Mr. Trump continued his condemnation of Ms. Omar on Friday, claiming that she had “called our country and our people garbage.” It was not clear what remarks she made that he was referring to.

That attack continued his racially charged fight with Ms. Omar and three of her fellow Democratic congresswomen of color — Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — into a sixth day.

Administration officials and campaign aides have rejected comparisons between Mr. Trump’s goading of elected women of color to “go back” to where they came from and what happened in Charlottesville. One was a deadly incident, they said, the other was a political fight.

But campaign aides have acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s tweets on Sunday — in which he used an age-old racist adage in telling the congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” — were unexpected, used loaded and unhelpful language, and any political strategy attached to them was reverse-engineered after the fact.

The president claimed his attacks were not politically motivated. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically; I don’t care,” he said. “I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”

While Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over what his supporters chanted in North Carolina, they kept their criticism of Mr. Trump to themselves.

Mr. Trump’s aides and allies did their advising in private, but his changing message made it hard for them to know whether they were on the same page as the man they work for.

One campaign aide, Mercedes Schlapp, retweeted criticism of the chant, promoting a commentator on Twitter to write that Ms. Omar was “an American citizen and chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting.” On Friday, Ms. Schlapp said she stood by that tweet.

“I agree with the president on not going forward with the chant,” she said.

“When you look at her policies,” she said, referring to Ms. Omar, “that’s the problem. Her policies themselves are dangerous for America, and that’s what we’re concerned about.”

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Trump’s Art of Disavowing a Disavowal

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-memo-facebookJumbo Trump’s Art of Disavowing a Disavowal United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Schlapp, Mercedes Race and Ethnicity Omar, Ilhan Kristol, William Greenville (NC) Charlottesville, Va, Violence (August, 2017) Charlottesville (Va) Brinkley, Douglas G

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday demonstrated the limited influence of allies or advisers who try to steer him away from pre-election racial and cultural fights. He walked back his disavowal of a racially loaded chant at a campaign rally less than 24 hours after making it.

Acquiescing to behind-the-scenes pressure from nervous Republican lawmakers and from his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, the president distanced himself on Thursday from the chant of “Send her back!” that the crowd at his rally on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C., directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia. Mr. Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant’s language and claimed, falsely, that he had tried to cut it off.

But on Friday, the president appeared to disavow his disavowal — following the same three-stage crisis playbook he used after setting off a wave of criticism when he defended neo-Nazi protesters in 2017 Charlottesville, Va.

“No, you know what I’m unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country,” Mr. Trump said on Friday, referring to Ms. Omar, when he was asked about the chant condemned by Republicans as well as Democrats. “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman, in this case a different congresswoman, can call our country and our people ‘garbage.’ That’s what I’m unhappy with.”

Mr. Trump defended the crowd as “incredible patriots” and said that Ms. Omar, who was elected last November, was “lucky to be where she is.”

When asked about the chant again later in the day as he left Washington to spend the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump refused to condemn them. Instead, he seemed to be repeating his criticism of Ms. Omar and her allies in Congress without mentioning any names.

“You know what’s racist to me, when someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country,” he said. “The people of our country that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate — that to me is really a dangerous thing.”

The reversal followed the same pattern as the one after Charlottesville.

After Mr. Trump’s original response to the violence that took place there in August 2017, a low point of his presidency, aides urged him to take the high ground. Days later, he finally relented, reading a brief prepared statement from the Diplomatic Room in the White House in which he, for the first time, unequivocally condemned neo-Nazi groups and stated that “racism is evil.”

But the next day, he reverted to his original stance in a combative exchange with reporters in which he again blamed both sides for the violence that left one demonstrator dead and dozens injured. But while business leaders and Republican lawmakers briefly distanced themselves from the president at the time, Mr. Trump appears to have suffered little long-term political damage because of the episode — and that lesson appears to have made an impression.

“It just destroys him to seem to be abandoning his base on any issue,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian. “When he originally said he distanced himself from the chant at the rally, one could have guessed he would go back and embrace the people who cheered ‘Send her back!’ Contrite is not in his playbook.”

But even some critics of Mr. Trump said that the walkback of the walkback was not necessarily damaging to him. “I wish I could say it was foolish, but what have the actual consequences been in the real world or in Republican support of him sticking to his guns?” said William Kristol, the conservative columnist and prominent Trump opponent. “Being the tough, unapologetic guy, it keeps his brand stronger even if he takes a little bit of a hit.”

Mr. Trump continued his condemnation of Ms. Omar on Friday, claiming that she had “called our country and our people garbage.” It was not clear what remarks she made that he was referring to.

That attack continued his racially charged fight with Ms. Omar and three of her fellow Democratic congresswomen of color — Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — into a sixth day.

Administration officials and campaign aides have rejected comparisons between Mr. Trump’s goading of elected women of color to “go back” to where they came from and what happened in Charlottesville. One was a deadly incident, they said, the other was a political fight.

But campaign aides have acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s tweets on Sunday — in which he used an age-old racist adage in telling the congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” — were unexpected, used loaded and unhelpful language, and any political strategy attached to them was reverse-engineered after the fact.

The president claimed his attacks were not politically motivated. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically; I don’t care,” he said. “I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”

While Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over what his supporters chanted in North Carolina, they kept their criticism of Mr. Trump to themselves.

Mr. Trump’s aides and allies did their advising in private, but his changing message made it hard for them to know whether they were on the same page as the man they work for.

One campaign aide, Mercedes Schlapp, retweeted criticism of the chant, promoting a commentator on Twitter to write that Ms. Omar was “an American citizen and chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting.” On Friday, Ms. Schlapp said she stood by that tweet.

“I agree with the president on not going forward with the chant,” she said.

“When you look at her policies,” she said, referring to Ms. Omar, “that’s the problem. Her policies themselves are dangerous for America, and that’s what we’re concerned about.”

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For 50 Years Since Apollo 11, Presidents Have Tried to Take That Next Giant Leap

WASHINGTON — At his star-spangled Independence Day extravaganza this month, President Trump singled out Gene Kranz, the legendary Apollo flight director. “Gene,” the president said, “I want you to know that we’re going to be back on the moon very soon — and someday soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars.”

What could be more American than vowing to go to the moon and beyond on the Fourth of July? For Mr. Trump, it was a chance to channel his inner John F. Kennedy, who first made the moon the nation’s goal — to make the sort of bold promise that appeals to his own sense of greatness and to wrap himself in a part of Americana akin to baseball and apple pie.

But Mr. Trump is the 10th president since Kennedy to put his stamp on the space program and the latest to aim for the stars with more brio than blueprint. After the Apollo program ended, other presidents promised to go back to the moon — or send humans to Mars or even land astronauts on asteroids. None did, unwilling or unable to obtain the financing necessary, and it remains uncertain whether Mr. Trump will, either.

As the nation on Saturday celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, the story of presidents and space exploration in the subsequent five decades is one of fascination, frustration and futility, an unrequited romance as star-struck chief executives dreamed of recapturing the magic of Kennedy’s moonshot without summoning the resources or the national will that made it possible in 1969, almost six years after his death.

[Remembering Apollo 11 in a New York Times special section.]

The presidents who followed Kennedy accomplished remarkable things in space, including the development of the reusable space shuttle, the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope and its offspring, the robot exploration of the solar system and the construction of the International Space Station along with Russia and other partners. Yet none of it ever fired the national imagination as did humans traveling to other worlds.

“There was a time when science and space exploration just captured the soul of America,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian at Rice University and author of “American Moonshot,” a new book on Mr. Kennedy and the space race. “The problem is it’s easy to say, ‘Let’s go back to the moon and to Mars,’ but as they used to say in NASA — ‘No bucks, no Buck Rogers.’”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158027490_14f08b66-a5a0-4ff1-b3b5-20fda7ebf2b4-articleLarge For 50 Years Since Apollo 11, Presidents Have Tried to Take That Next Giant Leap United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Space and Astronomy Reagan, Ronald Wilson Pence, Mike Obama, Barack O'Keefe, Sean Nineteen Hundred Sixties National Aeronautics and Space Administration moon Mars (Planet) Kranz, Gene Johnson, Lyndon Baines International Space Station Columbia (Space Shuttle) Clinton, Bill Challenger (Space Shuttle) Bush, George W Brinkley, Douglas G Apollo Project

Vice President Mike Pence this week during the unveiling of an exhibit featuring Neil Armstrong’s space suit from Apollo 11 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.CreditPool photo by Andrew Harnik

Indeed, other presidents never made it the priority Kennedy did, regardless of their sweeping words. “The key factor is they’re not willing to pay for it,” said John M. Logsdon, a prominent space historian and professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. “Kennedy not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. None of the presidents since then have been willing to do anything like that.”

Advocates of space exploration hope Mr. Trump will succeed with his moon program, called Artemis, for the mythical Apollo’s goddess sister, if for no other reason than his relentlessness when he applies himself to a project or a cause. Being the president who returned humanity to the moon on the way to Mars would be the sort of splashy, high-profile spectacle that excites him.

Mr. Trump hosted Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and the family of Neil Armstrong on Friday in the Oval Office to mark what the president called “one of the great achievements ever.” Vice President Mike Pence, who heads a reconstituted National Space Council, plans to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday.

“NASA is back,” Mr. Trump boasted.

The hurdles, however, remain sky-high. Mr. Pence told NASA in March to accelerate its schedule to reach the moon by 2024, the end of Mr. Trump’s second term if he wins re-election. NASA shook up its management to meet that goal. But Congress has shown less interest in financing it, and the technical obstacles to such a timetable remain formidable.

Mr. Kranz himself highlighted the challenge in an appearance this week at Purdue University, saying the national environment had changed. “Today, you have this marvelous technology — the books have been written, the kids are educated,” he said. “What we need is leadership that says, ‘Let’s go,’ and then you need unity within the nation that’s going to make it happen.”

Earth, seen from Apollo 11 on July 17, 1969.CreditNASA, via Associated Press

Kennedy’s moon mission was born not out of the explorer spirit but a desperation to catch up in a space race the United States was losing. The Soviets had beaten the Americans by launching the first satellite into orbit in 1957 and, just three months after Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961, the first man. In a memo a week later, Kennedy demanded any space initiative that “promises dramatic results in which we could win.”

The answer was the moon. Six weeks after Yuri Gagarin’s orbit, Kennedy addressed Congress to set a goal, “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” He followed up a year later in a landmark speech at Rice University: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

For Kennedy, it was all about Cold War competition. “I’m not that interested in space,” he told his NASA administrator in a private meeting, where he made clear that space priorities other than a lunar landing meant little to him — as did arriving on the moon second.

Because of an assassin’s bullet, though, it fell to his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson — who unlike Kennedy was genuinely invested in space — to build the moon program into what it would be. While the space project enjoyed only shallow public support given its cost, the assassination made it a moral imperative to fulfill the martyred leader’s vision.

But it would be their mutual rival, Richard M. Nixon, who would preside over the actual landing on July 20, 1969. Nixon relished making what he called the “most historic phone call ever made from the White House” to speak with Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin on the moon. But beyond that, Nixon was not especially engaged in the space program, which was seen as a Kennedy legacy.

In March 1970, less than a year after the first landing, Nixon signed a directive making space just another program that would compete for funding along with every other, the turning point to Mr. Logsdon. As interest and television ratings for subsequent Apollo launches dwindled, the final three moon missions were scrapped, ending the program with Apollo 17 in 1972.

Nixon did authorize the development of the space shuttle, the principal path to space for Americans for decades to come, and he sealed a cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union that would lead to the docking of Apollo and Soyuz capsules in orbit in 1975 under his successor, Gerald R. Ford.

But the Apollo-Soyuz rendezvous, while momentous geopolitically, also effectively ended the space race. If astronauts and cosmonauts could meet in space, there hardly seemed an urgent need to spend huge amounts of money on an antiquated competition. At its peak, NASA commanded more than 4 percent of the federal budget; today it receives about half of 1 percent.

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“None of the administrations since Johnson were facing a proposition that what hung in the balance here was nothing less than the beginning of the end of the Cold War,” said Sean O’Keefe, a NASA administrator under George W. Bush. “This was a very dominant theme.”

Story Musgrave, a retired astronaut who flew six shuttle missions, said the original rationale for the space program proved to be its inescapable burden. “The trouble if you make it about winning is that when you win, you may not have” a reason to continue, he said. “Kennedy really did set us up for the total lack of vision that occurred after ’69 because we won.”

Sally Ride, an astronaut, monitoring control panels on the shuttle Columbia flight deck in 1983, the year she became the first American woman to fly in space.CreditUncredited/NASA, via Associated Press

After a six-year hiatus, Americans returned to space in 1981 with the launch of the space shuttle Columbia only three months after Ronald Reagan took office.

Reagan embraced the program as a symbol of American optimism and ambition and, echoing Kennedy, announced to Congress in 1984 that he was directing NASA to build a permanently manned space station “and to do it within a decade.”

But Reagan was most remembered for his moving speech after the Challenger blew up in 1986, killing all seven on board, including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. “Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue,” he told a television audience, concluding with a tribute to the crew. “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

Hoping to reinvigorate the program, President George Bush announced on the 20th anniversary of Apollo 11, in 1989, an initiative to return to the moon and then to go to Mars. “Why the moon? Why Mars?” Bush asked. “Because it is humanity’s destiny to strive, to seek, to find. And because it is America’s destiny to lead.”

Mr. Logsdon, the historian, who has written several books on presidents and the space program — most recently one on Reagan, published this year — said Bush came the closest any president has come to matching Kennedy’s vision and budget commitment, but the price tag caused sticker shock in Congress, and the idea went nowhere.

When Bill Clinton took office, he revamped the program. “We had concluded that there was little point in putting astronauts on the moon again” unless it was done with a crewed base, recalled John Holdren, his science adviser. But as before, the estimated cost was enormous. “We saw no prospect of such a sum materializing.”

Instead, Mr. Clinton cut NASA’s budget and reimagined the program as a vehicle for international cooperation, converting Reagan’s envisioned space station into a joint venture with Russia as it emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. By the time Mr. Clinton left office, Americans and Russians were living together on the International Space Station, and have since.

George W. Bush found himself repeating history. Like Reagan, it fell to him to pick NASA back up after a shuttle disaster when the Columbia broke apart on re-entry in 2003, killing all seven on board. A year later, Mr. Bush set in motion plans to retire the aging shuttles in favor of a new set of powerful rockets and a crew capsule.

And like his father, Mr. Bush aimed to return to the moon by 2020, followed by a mission to Mars. But even though Congress signed on and financed the start of the program, impatient politicians gave up when progress was slower and costlier than predicted.

An Orion capsule lifting off in 2014 for its first uncrewed orbital test flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.CreditMarta Lavandier/Associated Press

Barack Obama seemed less interested in space and killed Mr. Bush’s Constellation program to build the Ares rockets and Orion capsule even after it had begun test launches, calling instead for outsourcing manned spaceflight to commercial companies. As a result, since the shuttles were retired in 2011, Americans have had to rely on paid rides to the space station on Russian rockets.

Mr. Obama saw no need to return to the moon, proposing instead to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025 and then send them to Mars in the 2030s. Congressional Republicans scoffed and rejected the idea.

Mr. Trump came to office determined to reverse course, re-establishing the National Space Council abolished by Mr. Clinton. The president has relished surrounding himself with Apollo-era heroes like Mr. Kranz, Mr. Aldrin and the moonwalker Harrison H. Schmitt.

But Mr. Trump seems more enchanted with his plan to create a military Space Force and sends mixed signals about his own exploration program. Just last month, he wrote on Twitter that “NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon,” but instead be focusing on Mars.

Even during Friday’s visit with the Apollo 11 crew, he began grilling Jim Bridenstine, his NASA administrator, on why the agency was not simply heading directly to Mars. “We need to learn how to live and work on another world,” Mr. Bridenstine explained.

Plenty of space program veterans doubt that Mr. Trump will succeed. “I don’t think that whoever has opted for this goal has any idea about its cost or practicality,” Mr. Holdren said. “Sending humans to Mars would be such a complex and expensive proposition that I don’t believe it will be done at all unless major nations agree to do it together.”

Michael Foale, a retired astronaut who made extended stays on both the Russian space station Mir and the International Space Station, said the 2024 deadline “is highly unlikely to be achieved.” But he said he would “fully support” the idea of returning to the moon for a sustained stay, not just another one-off visit.

“The danger of a Kennedy-Trump-style ‘go to the moon’ — and then leave — is that it will disenchant another two generations of the world population with traveling to the moon even if it is successful, and much worse if an accident occurs,” Mr. Foale said.

Still, some past officials see reasons for optimism. “There’s a lot more going for this period of time and this initiative to make this a more possible event than what we’ve seen in the past,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “The technology has developed at an absolutely staggering pace that has made this an achievable objective. We know a lot more about what it will take to achieve it.”

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N.S.A. Contractor Who Hoarded Secrets at Home Is Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison

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BALTIMORE — A troubled former National Security Agency contractor who spent two decades stuffing his home, car and garden shed with highly classified documents was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison in a case that exposed a shocking laxity in security at the N.S.A. and other secret government facilities.

Investigators originally feared that the contractor, Harold T. Martin III, might have passed or sold secrets to a foreign power or to a still-mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which released dangerous N.S.A. hacking tools online in 2016 and 2017. But they appear to have concluded that his amassing of secrets was a symptom of a quirky, disturbed mind, not evidence that Mr. Martin, a 54-year-old Navy veteran, wanted to betray his country.

In March, Mr. Martin pleaded guilty to a single count of willful retention of national defense information. Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on the sentence, which was approved by United States District Judge Richard D. Bennett.

Mr. Martin’s lawyer, James Wyda, said his client had an “autism spectrum disorder” and had experienced difficulty forming and keeping relationships since childhood. As a result, the lawyer said, he had sought meaning and validation in his work as a contractor at the N.S.A. and other agencies, bringing home documents to work on at night.

But as the documents piled up, the lawyer said, they became “a tangible representation of Mr. Martin’s worth,” as he was “desperately trying to fill the voids in his life.” His hoarding of both papers and electronic media went out of control, Mr. Wyda said.

One of the prosecutors, Zachary Myers, an assistant United States attorney, cast doubt on the notion that Mr. Martin was a mere victim of his mental disorders. He noted that Mr. Martin collected only government documents and kept them in a “logical” order.

“The defendant knew what he was doing was wrong, illegal and highly dangerous,” Mr. Myers said.

When F.B.I. agents arrived at Mr. Martin’s modest house in Glen Burnie, Md., in 2016, they recovered an estimated 50 terabytes of material, much of it stamped top secret, including the closely guarded software he had taken from his job at N.S.A.’s hacking unit, then called Tailored Access Operations. That made it among the largest thefts of classified documents in history.

His arrest came shortly after the Shadow Brokers had begun trying to auction stolen N.S.A. hacking tools online, and investigators were initially convinced that Mr. Martin must have somehow supplied the tools. But the Shadow Brokers continued to operate after Mr. Martin’s arrest, and prosecutors on Friday gave no indication that they thought he was connected to their wholesale release of N.S.A. cyber weapons, an unprecedented loss for the agency.

According to court records and interviews, Mr. Martin contacted employees at a Russian-owned cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Lab, via Twitter in 2016, sending cryptic messages that appeared to indicate he had information to share. “Shelf life, three weeks,” he wrote, in one message first reported by Politico.

But he quickly cut off contact and never delivered anything. Judge Bennett made reference to the episode on Friday but noted that the government had not accused Mr. Martin of “transmission” of classified secrets.

Mr. Martin, who was obese at the time of his arrest three years ago, has lost more than 100 pounds in jail, his lawyer said. He stood in a striped jersey labeled “Inmate” and read for nearly 30 minutes a rambling statement apologizing to family, friends and his former colleagues at the N.S.A.

“I have been called a walking encyclopedia,” he said, describing himself at another point as “an intellectually curious adventurer.” His words were often cryptic, at one point addressed to “that cool dude in a loose mood” and at another citing the N.S.A. motto, “They serve in silence.”

Judge Bennett repeatedly said he found Mr. Martin’s actions disturbing. “This case is very troubling,” he said. “Very sensitive material was taken home. I’ve grappled with the fact that people’s lives were potentially in danger,” he said, referring to intelligence sources overseas.

The judge said he agreed to the nine-year sentence, which will be counted from Mr. Martin’s arrest in August 2016, only after deciding it would be enough of a deterrent to other government employees with security clearances who might consider mishandling secrets.

The case is only one of several recent prosecutions of N.S.A. employees, including Nghia Pho, who was sentenced to five and a half years last September for taking home classified documents, and Reality Winner, who got five years and three months last August for sending a secret document about Russian hacking to the online publication The Intercept.

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Examining Trump’s Claims About Representative Ilhan Omar

President Trump’s attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, have been the centerpiece of his political strategy in recent days, a tactic that led his supporters at a raucous rally in North Carolina on Wednesday to erupt into chants of “send her back.”

Ms. Omar is one of four Democratic members of Congress — all women of color — who have come in for intense criticism from Mr. Trump. His particular focus on Ms. Omar, who was born in Somalia and immigrated to the United States as a refugee, followed months of comments from him casting her as “ungrateful” and “unpatriotic.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump drew attention to rumors that Ms. Omar had married her brother. The president then dove into a litany of accusations about the congresswoman. Some, like his repeated claims that Ms. Omar had praised Al Qaeda, were flatly false. Others, like his description of her citing a death toll in an infamous battle as “slander” against American troops, were his subjective characterizations of her remarks.

Here’s a fact check.

What Mr. Trump Said

“Well, there is a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it.”
— in remarks to reporters on Wednesday

Rumors that Ms. Omar had married her brother have been circulating since 2016, when she ran for state representative in Minnesota. No proof has emerged substantiating these claims.

In 2016, Ms. Omar released a statement denying the rumors as “absolutely false and ridiculous” and providing a timeline of her marital history.

According to that timeline, she applied for a marriage license with Ahmed Hirsi in 2002, but never finalized the application. In 2008, they ended their relationship “in our faith tradition.”

State records show that in 2009, Ms. Omar legally married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who she said was a British citizen. They obtained a religious divorce in 2011, according to her timeline, and Mr. Elmi returned to England.

She then reconciled with Mr. Hirsi and married him legally in January 2018, a month after she legally divorced from Mr. Elmi, according to The Associated Press. She and Mr. Hirsi have three children.

Last month, Minnesota’s campaign finance board found that Ms. Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with Mr. Hirsi while she was still legally married to Mr. Elmi. She agreed to pay a fine and back taxes as a result of the amendments to her returns those years.

In 2016, a blog called PowerLine cited a now-deleted post on an internet forum that claimed Mr. Elmi is Ms. Omar’s brother.

In 2018, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Ms. Omar showed a reporter cellphone images of documents from her family’s entry into the United States in 1995. They listed her father and siblings by order of birth, with Ms. Omar listed as the youngest of seven children. Mr. Elmi’s name did not appear in the documents. According to the couple’s marriage certificate, he is also three years younger than Ms. Omar, whose mother died when she was 2 years old.

What Mr. Trump Said

“So Representative Omar blamed the United States for the terrorist attacks on our country, saying that terrorism is a reaction to our involvement in other people’s affairs.”
— at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday

Mr. Trump was likely referring to comments Ms. Omar made in a 2013 interview with a local television program.

“Nobody wants to face how the actions of the other people that are involved in the world have contributed to the rise of the radicalization and the rise of terrorist acts,” she said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158135022_49cb12e6-c280-4443-be0b-7296e6c216e7-articleLarge Examining Trump’s Claims About Representative Ilhan Omar United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Terrorism Somali-Americans Race and Ethnicity Politics and Government Omar, Ilhan discrimination

Supporters greet Rep. Ilhan Omar at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thursday.CreditJenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Ms. Omar’s suggestion that there are links between foreign intervention and terrorism is not uncommon among scholars and world leaders and not unlike remarks from Mr. Trump himself.

“Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven, absolute failure,” Mr. Trump said in an August 2016 speech in Ohio. “We have created the vacuums that allow terrorism to grow and thrive.”

What Mr. Trump Said

“She smeared U.S. service members involved in Black Hawk Down, in other words, she slandered the brave Americans who were trying to keep peace in Somalia.”

“Black Hawk Down” refers to a 17-hour firefight on Oct. 3, 1993, that broke out between American forces and Somali militiamen in Mogadishu during the country’s civil war. Ms. Omar and her family fled Somalia during that war.

In 2017, Ms. Omar wrote, “thousands of Somalis killed by American forces that day!”

Her figure is a matter of dispute, but whether her comment amounted to a “smear” or “slander” is a matter of opinion.

American forces deployed to Somalia in 1992 as part of a humanitarian effort. Their mission culminated the next year when forces aligned with the warlord Muhammad Farah Aideed shot down two Black Hawk helicopters in a battle in which 18 Americans were killed and 75 wounded. The events were depicted in the book “Black Hawk Down” by the journalist Mark Bowden and a film of the same name.

The army has cited estimates of between 500 and 1,700 Somali casualties. Mr. Bowden reported that most death toll estimates ranged from 300 to 500 Somalis. Robert Oakley, the ambassador to Somalia under President George Bush, said in a 1998 interview that he believed between 1,500 to 2,000 Somalis were killed and wounded.

What Mr. Trump Said

“She pleaded for compassion for ISIS recruits attempting to join the terrorist organization.”

Ms. Omar wrote a letter to a federal judge asking for leniency in sentencing on behalf of nine Somali-American men, who were found guilty or pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges that they tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

“I bring to your attention the ramifications of sentencing young men who made a consequential mistake to decades in federal prison. Incarcerating 20-year-old men for 30 or 40 years, is essentially a life sentence,” Ms. Omar wrote in November 2016. “Such punitive measures not only lack efficacy they inevitability create an environment in which extremism can flourish, aligning with the presupposition of a terrorist recruitment: ‘Americans do not accept you and continue to trivialize your value. Instead of being a nobody, be a martyr.’”

“The best deterrent to fanaticism is a system of compassion,” the letter continued.

What Mr. Trump Said

“Omar laughed that Americans speak of Al Qaeda in a menacing tone and remarked that you don’t say America with this intensity, you say Al Qaeda. It makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don’t speak that way about America.”

Mr. Trump distorted Ms. Omar’s remarks. In that 2013 local news interview, Ms. Omar was discussing the rhetoric around terrorism. When the host noted that “we keep the Arabic names” of terrorist groups, she responded with an anecdote about a college professor who would say the names with “intensity, so it must mean or bold a bigger meaning.”

Nowhere in the interview does she say that “Al Qaeda makes you proud.”

What Mr. Trump Said

“And at a press conference just this week when asked whether she supported Al-Qaeda … she refused to answer, she didn’t want to give an answer to that question.”

Asked to respond to Mr. Trump’s false claims about her praising terrorists, Ms. Omar said she would not “dignify it with an answer.”

She also added that she did not expect white community members to respond to questions about whether they “love” a white supremacist or a white man involved in a mass shooting, “so I think it is beyond time, it is beyond time to ask Muslims to condemn terrorists. We are no longer going to allow the dignification of such a ridiculous statement.”

What Mr. Trump Said

“Omar blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela.”

In May, she appeared on an episode of “Democracy Now!” after a segment featuring an economist who estimated that 40,000 Venezuelans died from 2017 to 2018 as a result of sanctions imposed by the United States. (Others have criticized those findings.)

Ms. Omar agreed with the economist, adding, “A lot of the policies that we have put in place has kind of helped lead the devastation in Venezuela. And we’ve sort of set the stage for where we’re arriving today. This particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States.”

What Mr. Trump Said

“And she looks down with contempt on the hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.”

In a May interview with a podcast from The Nation, Ms. Omar was asked about her experience being elected as a state representative in 2016 just days after Mr. Trump held a rally in Minnesota where he criticized the vetting process for Somali refugees and vowed to slow it down.

John Nichols, the host of the podcast, commented that Ms. Omar might seize the “teaching moments” generated by the chasm between her personal story and Mr. Trump’s rhetoric.

“I think people have a misconception about refugees and, and the process they go through to come to the United States,” Ms. Omar responded.

As an example, she said, a Minnesota candidate for governor had vowed to stop the refugee resettlement program, prompting her to issue a Twitter post explaining how the process works.

“And so it is not that they might not be knowledgeable about this, but they use it as a tool to stir up hate and division,” she continued. “And ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of, of this country. And as someone who was raised by educators, I really like to inform people about things that they might be ignorant to, willingly or unwillingly.”

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Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant After Pressure From G.O.P.

WASHINGTON — Nervous Republicans, from senior members of Congress to his own daughter Ivanka, urged President Trump on Thursday to repudiate the “send her back” chant directed at a Somali-born congresswoman during his speech the night before at a rally in North Carolina, amid widespread fears that the rally had veered into territory that could hurt their party in 2020.

In response, Mr. Trump disavowed the behavior of his own supporters in comments to reporters at the White House and claimed that he had tried to contain it, an assertion clearly contradicted by video of the event.

Mr. Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a freshman Democrat who is Muslim. At the rally Wednesday evening, he had been in the middle of denouncing her as an anti-American leftist who has spoken in “vicious, anti-Semitic screeds” when the chant was taken up by the crowd.

Pressed on why he did not stop it, Mr. Trump said, “I think I did — I started speaking very quickly.” In fact, as the crowd roared “send her back,” Mr. Trump paused and looked around silently for more than 10 seconds as the scene unfolded in front of him, doing nothing to halt the chorus. “I didn’t say that,” he added. “They did.”

Mr. Trump’s cleanup attempt reflected the misgivings of political allies who have warned him privately that however much his hard-core supporters in the arena might have enjoyed the moment, the president was playing with political fire, according to people briefed on the conversations.

Among them were House Republican leaders, who pleaded with Vice President Mike Pence to distance the party from the message embraced by the crowd in Greenville, N.C. Mr. Pence conveyed that directly to Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the exchange.

“That does not need to be our campaign call, like we did the ‘lock her up’ last time,” said Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina, a top official in the party’s messaging arm, referring to the chant that routinely broke out whenever Mr. Trump mentioned Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Midway through that race, Mr. Trump told reporters he did not approve of that chant, but he never intervened.

Mr. Walker, who attended the rally on Wednesday night, later posted on Twitter that he had “struggled” with the chant. “We cannot be defined by this,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s inner circle immediately appreciated the gravity of the rally scene and quickly urged him to repudiate the chant. Ms. Trump, his elder daughter and senior adviser, spoke to the president about it on Thursday morning, the people familiar with the discussions said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Trump’s backpedaling reflects a larger issue for Republicans as they devise a strategy for the election. There is wide agreement in the party that branding Democrats as radicals in favor of open borders and what they dismiss as grandiose proposals like the Green New Deal could be a powerful argument in their attempt to hold the White House and make inroads in Congress.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158120271_076b60c7-8760-4fce-9818-aa3fc5243074-articleLarge Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant After Pressure From G.O.P. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Somali-Americans Republican Party Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Omar, Ilhan Muslims and Islam impeachment discrimination

“What I’m going to be busy doing is uplifting people, and making sure they understand: Here in this country, we are all Americans,” Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, said on Thursday at the Capitol.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

But while Republicans regard Ms. Omar and her fellow progressives who make up “the squad” — Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — as particularly good embodiments of that radicalism, there is some concern that suggesting they leave the country makes the argument too personal and could backfire.

Mr. Trump’s freewheeling campaign rallies — at which he aims for maximum entertainment value by testing boundaries and breaking taboos, all while his supporters egg him on with cheers and chants — encourage that kind of language. The feedback loop is so familiar by now that Mr. Trump’s staff explicitly warned him before the rally that the crowd would follow his lead as he spoke about Ms. Omar and to be careful not to let things spin out of control.

Even before Wednesday’s rally, his aides and advisers had spent days trying to manage the fallout from the president’s tweets on Sunday calling on the four Democratic congresswomen who he said “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” to “go back” and “help fix” them.

All of them are American citizens, and all but Ms. Omar, a Somali refugee, were born in the United States.

Many of Mr. Trump’s advisers immediately recognized that the tweets had crossed a new line, and they expected him to walk them back at the beginning of the week. But he did the opposite, renewing his call for the women to leave the United States. The charge that his tweets were racist “doesn’t concern me,” the president said, “because many people agree with me.”

Those people included Mr. Trump’s defenders on Fox News, like the prime-time host Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly denounced Ms. Omar while defending the president against the charge of racism.

After the rally, Mr. Trump made no mention of any concern. “Just returned to the White House from the Great State of North Carolina. What a crowd, and what great people,” he tweeted.

Congressional Republicans, who offered only muted protest over the president’s initial remarks about the congresswomen, recognized that the spectacle in Greenville demanded a more vocal response. Some suggested that the episode, with its intimations of political persecution and even physical force, had violated sacred democratic norms.

“Those chants have no place in our party or our country,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, told reporters.

Even as they denounced the crowd’s chant, Republican leaders declined to criticize Mr. Trump personally.

“There’s no place for that kind of talk,” Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota said to reporters in Washington after being asked about the chant.

Westlake Legal Group trump-racist-tweet-evolution-promo-1563501582520-articleLarge-v3 Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant After Pressure From G.O.P. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Somali-Americans Republican Party Race and Ethnicity Presidential Election of 2020 Omar, Ilhan Muslims and Islam impeachment discrimination

How Trump’s Twitter Attack Against Democrats Evolved Into ‘Send Her Back’ Chant

On Sunday, the president tweeted about four congresswomen in messages denounced as racist. By Wednesday, a crowd of his supporters had a rallying cry.

Mr. Walker said he had raised the issue with Mr. Pence at a breakfast on Thursday, saying the chant was “something that we want to address early,” before it became a staple of the president’s arena-style rallies. “We felt like this was going to be part of our discussion, to make sure that we are not defined by that.”

Some of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies defended him against charges of racism while justifying his attacks on Ms. Omar.

“I don’t think it’s racist to say,” Lindsey Graham told reporters. “I don’t think a Somali refugee embracing Trump would be asked to go back. If you’re racist, you want everybody to go back because they are black or Muslim. That’s not what this is about. What this is about to me is that these four congresswomen, in their own way, have been incredibly provocative.”

Ms. Omar responded on Thursday by calling Mr. Trump a “fascist,” but said there was nothing new about his behavior or the response of his supporters. She cited his years of false claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Later, in Minneapolis for a town hall-style meeting, Ms. Omar said to the crowd: “A lot of people are trying to distract us now. But I want you all to know that we are not going to let them.”

House Democratic leaders said they were working to develop higher-level security protocols for Ms. Omar and her three colleagues, especially given an onslaught of threatening material on social media, where white nationalists have praised the president’s statements and the hashtag #SendHerBack was trending Thursday on Twitter.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Thursday she was worried for her safety. Ms. Omar did not express such concern, but worried aloud about fellow Muslim immigrants.

“What I am scared for is the safety of people who share my identity,” said Ms. Omar, who has stood out in Congress with colorful head coverings. “When you have a president who clearly thinks someone like me should go back, the message that he is sending is not for me, it is for every single person who shares my identity.”

The latest criticism of Mr. Trump’s language comes two days after the House took the remarkable step of passing a resolution condemning his tweets and asserting that they were “racist comments that legitimized and increased hatred of new Americans and people of color.” Only four Republicans voted yes. All others, including Mr. Emmer and Mr. Walker, voted no.

Hours before the president’s rally, the House killed an attempt to impeach Mr. Trump for the statements. But on Thursday morning, his race- and ethnicity-based insults were cited by Representative Peter Welch of Vermont, the latest Democrat to call for impeachment, as one piece of evidence that his presidency has “wrought an unprecedented and unrelenting assault on the pillars and guardrails of our democracy.”

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