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

Young Voters Still ‘Feel the Bern,’ but Not Just for Bernie Sanders Anymore

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — College students are back on campus. Bernie Sanders is, too.

Earlier this month at Iowa State University, he lectured to young voters as they played “Green New Deal Pong” (the Solo cups were filled with green-colored water) and “Bern Bag Toss.” At the University of Nevada, Reno, he croaked through a hoarse voice to address a crowd that stretched from the college lawn to the open-air floors of a parking garage beside it.

And at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday evening, he implored students to get themselves to the primary polls come February — and vote for him.

“You have friends out there, and I know you do, who think that the political system” is absurd, he said, using a colorful expletive. “Tell them that instead of just complaining, they must get involved into the political process.”

It was a sentiment he has repeated often this month as he crisscrossed the country on what has amounted to a whirlwind back-to-school tour. In Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina, he has by turns used flattery (“Your generation is the most progressive younger generation in the history of this country”) and subtle warnings (“The future of this country and in fact the world rests with your generation”) to bolster his appeals.

Everywhere, his goal was the same: muster a version of the army of young voters who propelled his campaign in 2016.

His message was one that has resonated with Brianna Williams, 19, who arrived with a group of friends to hear him in Chapel Hill. “I’ve seen a lot of his policies, and I’m just excited for what he has to offer as a candidate,” she said.

But she was just as excited by Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I would love to see a woman running the country,” she said. “That would be really cool.”

Last time around, Mr. Sanders’s rants against the elite and promises of free college tuition endeared him to legions of young fans. It also helped that Mr. Sanders — 74 at the time, with unruly white hair and an old-school Brooklyn accent — was both decidedly uncool and new to presidential politics, affording his campaign a paradoxical edge that inspired millions of young supporters to “feel the bern” and vote for him over Hillary Clinton.

As he fights anew for the Democratic nomination, it is not lost on him or his allies that his success hinges, in no small part, on his ability to capture that enthusiasm again — for both the optics of his race and the actual votes.

But this time he is no longer an insurgent, nor is he the only anti-establishment candidate in the race — factors that helped boost his standing among young voters. With the race entering the crucial fall period, other candidates, including Ms. Warren and Andrew Yang, have begun siphoning off some of his support.

[Sign up for our politics newsletter hosted by Lisa Lerer and join the conversation around the 2020 presidential race.]

Even Mr. Sanders’s closest advisers acknowledge that he cannot take for granted a voting cohort they view as critical, even if it is traditionally unreliable in actually making it to the ballot box.

“Last time it was much more organic,” Faiz Shakir, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, said. “And this time it’s far more intentional.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160469223_e0806b6f-ab96-4d19-97e1-91fc9f605194-articleLarge Young Voters Still ‘Feel the Bern,’ but Not Just for Bernie Sanders Anymore Youth Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Democratic Party Colleges and Universities

People playing “Green New Deal Pong” at a Sanders rally at Iowa State University in Ames.CreditJordan Gale for The New York Times

In interviews, many young voters still praised Mr. Sanders, sometimes breathlessly — citing his authenticity and conviction but also his calls for free college and universal health care and his proposal to cancel student debt. But many also expressed curiosity, if not exuberance, about other candidates

“I love everything he stands for,” said Asha Loutsch, 18, as she sat with a circle of friends who were waiting for his event at the University of Iowa. “I think he really cares about what he’s trying to say. Like, he’s always getting up in there, you know?”

But she also said she was interested in Ms. Warren and wanted to hear her speak.

Jiego Lim, an 18-year-old student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who was volunteering at Mr. Sanders’s event there, said he supported Mr. Sanders but was also intrigued by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris. “I feel like we need a fresh new face in politics,” he said. “Bernie comes off aggressive to me sometimes.”

Others were less equivocal.

“He’s America’s dad,” offered Gabriel Olier, 19, a student in Reno. “I love Bernie.”

That affection for Mr. Sanders is reflected in some more tangible metrics. His campaign said it had so far raised over $1 million from people under the age of 25, a relatively small figure compared to his overall haul but one that nevertheless points to his continued strength with young voters.

[Here’s the latest data on who’s leading the race to be the Democratic nominee.]

And in most polls, Mr. Sanders still maintains a strong lead among young voters: A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey showed that a third of voters under 35 supported him.

Yet at the same time, a quarter of these respondents said they supported Ms. Warren, suggesting Mr. Sanders no longer has the same hold on the group he had in 2016.

Any candidate relying on the support of younger voters faces an undeniable challenge: Younger voters tend not to vote in high numbers compared with other groups. In the 2016 election, for instance, only 11 percent of voters under 30 participated in the Iowa caucuses, representing just 15 percent of the total, according to an estimate from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

But the high turnout among young voters during the 2018 midterm elections has given some experts hope that the 2020 election will be different. That strong showing has provided organizers with a larger pool to identify and target potential presidential voters. Issues, including climate change, criminal justice, health care and gun control, are also motivating young voters to act.

“The truth is that if younger people in this country voted at the same level as people 65 and over, we could transform this country,” Mr. Sanders said this month at the University of Iowa. “Please do it!”

John Della Volpe, the director of polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, said that Mr. Sanders was still “doing really well” but that the field was more complex and his pool of support was smaller.

“At this stage, he’s essentially sharing support of young people in most polls with Elizabeth Warren,” Mr. Della Volpe said. “The idea of going after structural reforms is really, I think, what is resonating so clearly with young people.”

Indeed, of all the other candidates, it is Ms. Warren who appears to be generating the most powerful wave of energy among young voters in Democratic presidential politics — particularly among those who once supported Mr. Sanders.

More Coverage of Bernie Sanders and Young Voters
Bernie Sanders Courts Elusive Voters: Young Iowans

Jan. 23, 2016

Young Democrats Flock to Bernie Sanders, Spurning Hillary Clinton’s Polish and Poise

Feb. 4, 2016

Bernie Sanders’s Big Turnout Problem: He’s Reliant on Infrequent Voters

Jan. 25, 2016

For Bernie Sanders, Holding Onto Support May Be Hard in a 2020 Bid

Dec. 27, 2018

Young Voters Could Make a Difference. Will They?

Nov. 2, 2018

Olivia Stecklein, 19, a student at the University of Iowa, said she had been a fan of Mr. Sanders since 2015 but was now choosing between him and Ms. Warren.

“I feel like they’re pretty similar, but I just kind of like how Elizabeth Warren has a set-out plan for everything,” she said. “She just seems very prepared.”

Eliza Link, 18, a University of Iowa student, said she was also deciding between Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren.

A young crowd cheered as Mr. Sanders took the stage during a rally on climate change in Las Vegas.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

“I think they’re both the cool aunt and uncle of the political race right now,” she said.

With his characteristic verve that can exhaust even young reporters, Mr. Sanders has been in an all-out sprint to earn the vote of the youths, months before any of them can even cast their vote.

His team set up a Bernie Summer School program to train campus leaders in the art of campaigning. He urged his campaign to get him back on college campuses in the first weeks of the new school year. He constantly asks his team to share data on young voters.

To win over the group, however, Mr. Sanders will have to convince people like Tim Watts, 19.

Before Mr. Sanders’s event in Reno, Mr. Watts wore a “MATH” hat, the universal accessory of Yang supporters.

But despite his overt support for Mr. Yang — who in some ways is benefiting from the outsider status among young voters that Mr. Sanders enjoyed in 2016 — Mr. Watts said he had not yet closed the door on Mr. Sanders.

“I’m part of the Yang gang, I guess,” he said. “I will probably feel the bern later.”

Rachel Shorey contributed reporting from Washington.

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For Trump, a Time of Indecision

WASHINGTON — Speaking to a Fox News reporter near the Mexican border on Wednesday, President Trump seemed taken aback when asked if the White House were preparing to roll out gun control proposals the next day, a timeline administration officials had suggested was likely.

“No, we’re not moving on anything,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going very slowly in one way because we want to make sure it’s right.”

The result is that almost two months after the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, when Mr. Trump said he wanted to pass “very meaningful background checks,” warnings from gun rights advocates and Republican lawmakers about the political blowback that would result from doing that have led to indecision about what to do and what the time frame is for sharing it.

But idling in neutral is not something the president is doing only on guns. In discussions with his staff, Mr. Trump has made clear he wants to accomplish something big, but seems stymied as to what it might be, according to interviews with a half-dozen aides and advisers. In the meantime, he has remained on the sidelines as divisive issues are debated and is treading water even on possible staff changes he wants to make, for fear of how things “play.”

On the international stage, Mr. Trump has seemed most conflicted about how to respond to Iran’s attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, threatening to order “the ultimate option” one moment, and then warning that getting involved in Middle East wars was a mistake the next.

And the lack of direction is apparent even in the message he delivers at his campaign rallies. With little in the way of policy proposals or a larger vision, he has been telling crowds from New Hampshire to South Carolina, “You have no choice but to vote for me,” and has been promoting his new slogan, “Keep America Great.”

On guns, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has made it clear he will not take any action until the White House does. “If the president is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it will become law, I’ll put it on the floor,” he said this month.

For Mr. Trump, who has been under pressure to act but appears to be aware that any decision he makes comes loaded with its own political risk, part of the holdup is division within his own administration.

When William P. Barr, the attorney general, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director, met with Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, distributing a plan to expand background checks, he did so with the blessing of the White House, according to people briefed on what took place. But White House communications officials immediately distanced the president from what they described as a “test run” on a proposal they expected would meet resistance and ultimately convinced Mr. Barr, who some Trump aides view as overly aggressive that the plan was a nonstarter.

“The president has not signed off on anything yet,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. Of the plan that was being distributed by a White House staff member and a senior administration official, he said, “This is not a White House document, and any suggestion to the contrary is completely false.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159938985_df46e76d-4aaf-42cb-8f68-669a0688b884-articleLarge For Trump, a Time of Indecision United States Politics and Government Trump, Melania Trump, Donald J Mulvaney, Mick McConnell, Mitch gun control E-Cigarettes Barr, William P

Mr. Trump said he would pass “very meaningful background checks” after the mass shooting last month in El Paso.CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Mr. Trump also appears to be tempering his aggressive vows to impose a ban on all flavored vaping products. In an announcement last week in the Oval Office, with the first lady, Melania Trump, by his side, Mr. Trump declared that “we can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

But days afterward, Mr. Trump sent out a tweet that raised questions about his commitment to a ban that his administration is forging ahead with. “Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!” Mr. Trump wrote, making the implicit argument that vaping was a good alternative to cigarettes and shifting the focus counterfeit products.

The tweet, Mr. Trump has told aides, came after a discussion with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who warned him that the ban was going to be received poorly by his conservative supporters. On Thursday, the White House scheduled and then abruptly postponed a meeting with conservatives concerned about the vaping ban. One person briefed on the process said the agencies that would impose such a ban were still reviewing how to go about it.

Still, to the president’s critics, Mr. Trump’s apparent paralysis on policy issues like guns is indicative of a larger problem in his administration.

“It requires stepping out of entertainment frame and into a political leadership frame,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, an organization tackling gun violence. “He’s not strong enough to forge any sort of compromise that would get anything less than full support from his base. He does not have that degree of political power or savvy, and that’s why he ends up in a perpetual ‘Infrastructure Week.’”

Mr. Trump’s defenders said he was no different from his predecessors, who also found themselves stalled at times in their presidencies. But some political analysts said Mr. Trump’s situation was different.

“There are a lot of balls in the air here, and it’s not quite clear how he’s going to catch them, or where they’re going to land,” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama. “On some things, he has strong opinions, but on many things, he doesn’t. If you don’t have some core organizing principles, other than your own political well-being, it’s easy to get lost.”

Despite wanting to give the impression that he is decisive, said one person close to Mr. Trump, part of his holdup is that the president constantly changes his mind and equivocates. While Mr. Trump often worries about how his decisions will play, he is also anxious about other people making decisions for him. Figuring out where Mr. Trump will end up, the person said, is like trying to figure out what number the roulette ball will land on.

The president has few, if any, trusted advisers to assist him. And Mr. Trump has also been left even more isolated without his longtime assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, whom the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, fired last month after she indiscreetly shared details about his family in an off-the-record dinner with a small group of reporters in Bedminster, N.J., according to multiple White House officials.

Ms. Westerhout had been one of the president’s few organizing influences, the officials said. In the weeks since she left, Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on his feelings about Mr. Mulvaney, praising him one day and denouncing him the next, people familiar with the discussions said.

For longtime Republican analysts, Mr. Trump has a single track he should be traveling on, and any distractions that cause him to take his eyes off could be disastrous politically.

“Right now his big challenge is regaining the initiative on the economic narrative,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster who works with the House Republican Conference. “That is still what is concerning the country. That is the core dynamic he’s going to have to deal with leading into this next election.”

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

Whistle-Blower Complaint Sets Off a Battle Involving Trump

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Whistle-Blower Complaint Sets Off a Battle Involving Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Office of the Director of National Intelligence Inspectors General House Committee on Intelligence Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

WASHINGTON — A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump emerged on Thursday as the latest front in a continuing oversight dispute between administration officials and House Democrats.

The complaint touched off speculation about its allegations, which remained shrouded in mystery. It involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions, according to interviews. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.

The complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, renewed questions about how the president handles delicate information. Mr. Trump defended his actions, and allies described his style with foreign leaders as more freewheeling than typical high-level diplomacy. “I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

The controversy first erupted a week ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, revealed the existence of the complaint and disclosed that the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, had blocked the inspector general from sharing it with Congress, as generally required by law. The inspector general deemed the complaint legitimate and opened an inquiry.

Mr. Maguire’s intervention touched off the latest in a series of clashes between congressional Democrats seeking to conduct oversight and administration officials who they say are stonewalling their requests for information. Democrats accused Mr. Maguire of ignoring the law, possibly to protect Mr. Trump or another high-level official, though intelligence officials insisted that they blocked lawmakers’ access to the complaint in accordance with the law, not politics.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Maguire declined to comment. Andrew P. Bakaj, a former C.I.A. and Pentagon official whose legal practice specializes in whistle-blower and security clearance issues, confirmed that he was representing the official who filed the complaint. Mr. Bakaj declined to identify his client and said he would not disclose details of the complaint.

For nearly a week, the controversy remained opaque.

Then on Wednesday evening, The Washington Post reported that the whistle-blower’s allegations centered on at least one conversation involving Mr. Trump, setting off another frenzy in Trump-era Washington. The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared on Capitol Hill in a closed-door session on Thursday but divulged no specifics beyond saying that the complaint involved multiple actions, according to two officials familiar with his briefing.

He would not say whether the complaint involved the president, according to committee members. But separately, a person familiar with the whistle-blower’s complaint said it involved in part a commitment that Mr. Trump made in a communication with another world leader. No single communication was at the root of the complaint, another person familiar with it said.

The intelligence official filed the formal whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 12. Such a complaint is lodged through a formal process intended to protect a whistle-blower from retaliation.

Though it is not clear how exactly Ukraine fits into the allegations, questions have already emerged about Mr. Trump’s dealing with its government. He spoke on July 25 with President Volodymyr Zelensky and said he was convinced that Ukraine’s new government would quickly improve the country’s image and investigate corruption, which “inhibited the interaction” between the two nations, according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call.

Mr. Trump’s close allies, including his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, were also urging the Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could help Mr. Trump by embarrassing his political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

According to government officials who handle foreign policy in the United States and Ukraine, Mr. Giuliani’s efforts created the impression that the Trump administration’s willingness to back Mr. Zelensky was linked to his government’s readiness to in turn pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump’s allies.

Mr. Giuliani said he did not know whether Mr. Trump discussed those matters with Mr. Zelensky, but argued it would not be appropriate.

The president has the right to tell another country’s leader to investigate corruption, particularly if it “bleeds over” into the United States, Mr. Giuliani said on Thursday. “If I were president, I would say that,” he added.

Around the same time, a separate issue was brewing. Congressional aides and administration officials who work on Ukraine issues had become concerned that the White House was slow-walking a military assistance package for Kiev, according to people involved in an effort to free up the assistance.

Last week, the two issues merged when Mr. Schiff and two other Democratic House committee chairmen requested the transcript of Mr. Trump’s call with Mr. Zelensky from the State Department and the White House as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani were misappropriating the American foreign policy apparatus for political gain.

The Democrats indicated they planned to examine whether the delay in the assistance “is part of President Trump’s effort to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing politically motivated investigations.”

The next day, Mr. Schiff wrote to Mr. Maguire seeking information about the whistle-blower complaint.

And the following day, the White House released the military assistance to Ukraine, with little explanation.

The unusual disagreement between Mr. Maguire and Mr. Atkinson centers on who is best suited to investigate the whistle-blower’s accusations.

In a letter to the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Atkinson wrote that the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the director of national intelligence and “relates to one of the most significant and important of the D.N.I.’s responsibilities to the American people.”

Mr. Maguire has not disputed the seriousness of the allegation but determined in consultation with the Justice Department that it was outside the scope of the law requiring whistle-blower complaints be forwarded to Congress. Any accusation that triggers the requirement must involve the funding, administration or operations of an intelligence agency.

Administration officials have shared at least some details of the accusations with the White House, to allow officials to weigh whether to assert executive privilege, an official said.

Some current and former officials defended Mr. Maguire’s decision to consult with the Justice Department and the White House. Any question of whether a presidential communication was subject to executive privilege would be a White House decision, and the Justice Department is supposed to offer legal advice.

“But given the recent history of Justice Department leadership engaging in public messaging that comes across as scripted by the White House, it is not unreasonable to have concerns about the consultation with the department in this instance,” said David H. Laufman, who served as chief of the counterintelligence section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Mr. Schiff said he would explore potential recourse with the House’s general counsel to try to force the release of the complaint, including potentially suing for it in court.

The law is “very clear” that the whistle-blower complaint must be handed over to Congress, said Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

“The inspector general determines what level of concern it is,” Mr. King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview. “Once the determination is made,” he added, the director of national intelligence “has a ministerial responsibility to share that with Congress — it is not discretionary.”

[Read a pair of letters from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about the complaint.]

Democrats emerged from Mr. Atkinson’s briefing and renewed their accusation that the Trump administration was orchestrating a cover-up of an urgent and legitimate whistle-blower complaint that could affect national security.

Mr. Schiff told reporters after the briefing that he still did not know the contents of the complaint and had been unable to get an answer to whether the White House was involved in suppressing it.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” he said. “I think the law is written very clearly. I think the law is just fine. The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Officials with Mr. Maguire’s office were scrambling to find a compromise with Congress ahead of Mr. Maguire’s scheduled testimony on Sept. 26, according to a senior intelligence official.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, said on Thursday that he and the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, also expected both the inspector general and acting director to brief them early next week and “clear this issue up.”

Some legal experts said it was not obvious how an exchange between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader could meet the legal standards for a whistle-blower complaint that the inspector general would deem an “urgent concern.”

Under the law, the complaint has to concern the existence of an intelligence activity that violates the law, rules or regulations, or otherwise amounts to mismanagement, waste, abuse or a danger to public safety. But a conversation between two foreign leaders is not itself an intelligence activity.

And while Mr. Trump may have discussed intelligence activities with the foreign leader, he enjoys broad power as president to declassify intelligence secrets, order the intelligence community to act and otherwise direct the conduct of foreign policy as he sees fit, legal experts said.

Mr. Trump regularly speaks with foreign leaders and is often unfettered. Some current and former officials said that what an intelligence official took to be a troubling commitment could have been an innocuous comment.

Mr. Trump’s calls with other leaders are unlike anything his predecessors engaged in, one European diplomat said. The president eschews the kind of structured calls of his predecessors and instead quickly moves from the stated topic of the call to others. He will disclose his ideas for forthcoming summit meetings and test ideas and policies in a seemingly casual way, the diplomat said.

But the whistle-blower complaint renewed questions about whether some of his freelance proposals were inappropriate. The accusation, even with few details, quickly gained traction in part because of longstanding concerns among some intelligence officials that the information they share with the president is being politicized.

Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan, Charlie Savage and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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He’s the President Democratic Voters Don’t Want to Hear Criticized

In some of the tensest moments of the 2020 debates, a viewer might have concluded that Democrats were poised for a large-scale clash over the legacy of President Barack Obama.

There have been heated arguments about whether to stick with Mr. Obama’s architecture for health care policy or to pursue a single-payer system, and flashes of direct criticism over his record on immigration. In televised debates, Democratic rivals like Julián Castro have pressed his former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., to repudiate the large-scale deportations carried out under Mr. Obama’s watch.

There have also been defiant professions of loyalty, delivered as though Mr. Obama were under siege from fellow Democrats. Mr. Biden, the Democratic front-runner, has made these moments a hallmark of his candidacy: “I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good, bad, indifferent,” he said at the last debate.

Yet among the vast majority of Democratic voters, there is little appetite for a brawl over the merits of Mr. Obama’s record. And while Mr. Obama’s consensus-seeking liberalism appeals to many Democratic voters, few appear to be thinking about the 2020 primary as a forum for determining which candidate would follow Mr. Obama’s exact policy blueprint.

Interviews with Democratic voters and party leaders found near-unanimous admiration for the former president and his policies, a sense of nostalgia for what they recall as his dignified conduct — and, at the same time, a hunger for something new.

Mr. Obama remains immensely popular among Democrats: In a poll published Tuesday by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, nine in 10 Democrats said they viewed him in positive terms. More than three quarters said they believed Mr. Obama “did as much as was possible at the time in addressing the issues facing the country.”

[Which Democrats are leading the 2020 presidential race this week?]

Mr. Obama has kept a low profile in the presidential race, meeting privately with many of the Democratic candidates but telling associates that he does not see it as his place to direct the party’s future. He has expressed interest, at different times, in rising stars like former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. Mr. Obama had issued a warm statement about Mr. Biden’s entry into the primary but had declined to endorse him or anyone else.

An Obama family photo on a bag at a campaign rally.CreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times At a rally for Joseph R. Biden Jr., a woman with a President Obama sweatshirt.CreditAlicia Vera for The New York Times

Some of the aura around Mr. Obama surrounds Mr. Biden, too, granting him much of the party’s good will.

“He was with President Obama,” said Tajshiek Nehemiah, 31, who watched Mr. Biden deliver a speech in Birmingham, Ala., last Sunday. “I like the way he spoke as vice president, what he stood for, what he believes.”

But Democrats supporting other candidates have no difficulty reconciling that preference with their affection for Mr. Obama. And they do not necessarily connect the social problems the left is most focused on, like economic inequality and health care costs, to the agenda Mr. Obama pursued on those issues.

“I love Obama,” Maureen Conboy, a lawyer in New York, said Monday after watching Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts give a speech in Washington Square Park. “He made mistakes but he’s honest, he really cared — you could just tell he’s a good person.”

Ms. Conboy also said that was the past.

“I think re-litigating what happened, making this about Obama, the Obama administration, is the wrong thing,” she said, adding, “We’ve got to look forward, and if it’s Biden, we’re going to do nothing but looking back.”

Patrick Dillon, Mr. Obama’s former deputy political director in the White House, said many Democrats shared that mind-set. He said candidates had to offer new ideas, but saw little evidence that skepticism of Mr. Obama was growing.

“I think every candidate has to talk about how they’re going to build forward from the Obama legacy,” said Mr. Dillon, who is married to Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign manager but is not working for the campaign. “The notion of ‘building on’ seems to have won the conversation, versus the notion of aggressively reassessing or tearing down.”

A spokesman for Mr. Obama declined to comment.

[Sign up for our politics newsletter hosted by Lisa Lerer and join the conversation around the 2020 presidential race.]

That any Democrat might consider running as an Obama clone underscores his unusual political stature. No recent former president has enjoyed a comparable glow immediately after leaving office. Even relatively popular presidents were seen as more tainted: for Ronald Reagan, there was Iran-Contra; for Bill Clinton, the lurid ripples of impeachment.

Mr. Obama is different, especially for Democrats. If elements of his political ethos have gone out of vogue — his peacemaking with Wall Street, for instance, or his championing of free-trade agreements — the Democratic candidates who have departed from his approach have shown no desire to make that split explicit.

A “miss you” shirt with President Obama’s photo.CreditJonathan Ernst/Reuters A supporter of Mr. Biden sports campaign material touting the Obama-Biden relationship.CreditMark Makela/Getty Images

The two most prominent liberals in the race, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, have couched their calls for sweeping policy change within praise for Mr. Obama, all but erasing disagreements they had with him in the past. In demanding a single-payer health care system, they have praised the Affordable Care Act and called “Medicare for All” a logical next step. Whether Mr. Biden can successfully brand that stance as a rejection of Mr. Obama, as he attempted to do at the last debate, remains to be seen.

For now, the liberals’ approach has worked with some Democrats in the early-voting states. Zach Simonson, a Democratic county chairman in Wapello County, Iowa, said if Democrats took the view that Mr. Obama “made zero mistakes, or that he didn’t even leave anything unfinished, then we have nothing to run on but undoing the Trump presidency.”

“We can’t be the party of ‘Make America 2016 Again,’” Mr. Simonson said. “Being for hope and change and progress is the best way to carry on the Obama legacy.”

JoAnn Hardy, a party leader in Iowa’s Cerro Gordo County, said she saw Mr. Biden as “best positioned to carry on Obama’s legacy” because of their close relationship. But she said she believed all the candidates had “respect for Obama and his policies.”

“I think some of those proposing policies different from Obama are just moving the policies another step toward realization,” Ms. Hardy, who is neutral in the race, said.

More Coverage of Barack Obama and the Democratic Primary
Attacks on Biden in Debate Highlight Divide Over the Obama Legacy

Sept. 12, 2019

Obama Quietly Gives Advice to 2020 Democrats, but No Endorsement

Feb. 18, 2019

Democratic Candidates Praise Labor — and the Obama Legacy, Too

Aug. 3, 2019

Liberal Democrats Ruled the Debates. Will Moderates Regain Their Voices?

June 29, 2019

Blunter criticism of Mr. Obama has been left to more desperate candidates, like Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who have sought traction by courting activists with intense but narrow grievances about Obama-era policies, particularly on immigration, trade and national security.

John Anzalone, a pollster for Mr. Biden who worked for Mr. Obama, said there was no strong Democratic constituency for such criticism. According to his research, Mr. Anzalone said, primary voters were pining not just for Mr. Obama as a person but for his steady, pragmatic approach, something he suggested Mr. Biden was well positioned to provide.

“They wish they could get back to the normalcy of someone like Barack Obama,” Mr. Anzalone said.

Mr. Obama’s enduring popularity owes much to his status as the first black president of the United States. And Mr. Biden’s standing in the race flows from his role as Mr. Obama’s steadfast defender, with his lead built on strong support from African-Americans.

“He had no problem with defending the president when asked to do so,” said Lashunda Scales, an Alabama Democrat who is president pro tempore of the Jefferson County Commission. She wasn’t making an endorsement, she said, but added, “that, to me, said a lot about his character.”

But African-American voters are far from uniform in preferring Mr. Biden, or in seeing the primaries as a referendum on Mr. Obama.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 18dems-obama-articleLarge He’s the President Democratic Voters Don’t Want to Hear Criticized United States Politics and Government United States Economy Presidential Election of 2020 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) Obama, Barack Liberalism (US Politics) Democratic Party Debates (Political) Biden, Joseph R Jr

“We can’t be the party of ‘Make America 2016 Again,’” an Iowa county chairman said.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

Elizabeth Bowens, a retired hospitality worker in Myrtle Beach, S.C., said that she disliked the contentious tone of the Democratic race and that she longed for the Obama years. “Him and Michelle, that’s a beautiful couple,” she said.

But Ms. Bowens did not seem to be leaning toward Mr. Biden.

“It’s time for a woman,” she said.

To Mr. Obama’s sharpest critics on the left — chiefly activists and policy experts concerned with issues like financial regulation, drone warfare, immigration and criminal justice — his Teflon reputation can be frustrating.

Matt Stoller, a fellow at the liberal Open Markets Institute who is a scathing critic of Mr. Obama’s economic record, said he saw Democrats as caught between their personal reverence for Mr. Obama and the reality that the country faces “existential crises” — on matters like climate change and economic inequality — that Mr. Obama did not resolve.

At some point, Mr. Stoller said, Democrats might face a stark choice between Mr. Obama’s center-left policy framework and the agendas of liberal candidates they now favor. But Mr. Stoller acknowledged no such test had yet arrived.

“I’m still waiting for that moment when Democrats are going to have to make that choice,” he said.

There is no guarantee that it will ever arrive. And the choice Democratic primary voters see before them now has less to do with Mr. Obama’s policies than with the immediate challenge of ousting President Trump.

Susan Chase, a retiree in Southport, N.C., said candidates who attacked Mr. Obama would not get her vote, and she criticized Senator Kamala Harris for attacking Mr. Biden in the first debate.

But that does not mean she will vote for Mr. Biden.

“Part of me says it’s time for something really new and different,” Ms. Chase said, “but then the other part says we’ve got to have somebody who can beat Trump.”

Jonathan Martin contributed from Galivants Ferry, S.C., Katie Glueck from Birmingham and Reid J. Epstein from Washington.

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Bezos and Zuckerberg Take Their Pitches to Washington

Westlake Legal Group 19amazon-facebookJumbo Bezos and Zuckerberg Take Their Pitches to Washington Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Bezos, Jeffrey P Amazon.com Inc

WASHINGTON — Two of the technology industry’s leading figures descended on Washington on Thursday as their companies face growing political pressure.

The executives, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, showed up for different reasons, and in different places. Mr. Bezos led a morning event at the National Press Club, announcing a commitment by Amazon to be carbon neutral by 2040. Later, Mr. Zuckerberg met with President Trump and held discussions on Capitol Hill about election security, privacy and other issues.

But their presence in Washington highlighted a shared need to try to reshape the public debate about their companies. Amazon and Facebook, as well as Google and Apple, face a variety of broad investigations into their power and influence.

This week, lawmakers held two hearings that focused largely on the industry. One was on the spread of extremism online. In the other, lawmakers urged the country’s top antitrust regulators, who were testifying before them, to be aggressive in their oversight of tech companies.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said it was time for the companies to be more upfront with the public.

“We’ve had a lot of talk from Facebook, and we have a troubling pattern, when they’re up on the Hill, of them saying things that turn out to be either very misleading or at the end of the day it’s just not true or they just don’t follow through on it,” Mr. Hawley said.

Amazon, in addition to the scrutiny from regulators, has faced increasing criticism from its own employees, many of whom say the company needs to do more to combat climate change. More than 1,500 are expected to walk out of work to push their case on Friday, a day of planned climate-related strikes around the world.

The workers have prodded Amazon on three issues: that the company have zero emissions by 2030, that it stop offering custom cloud-computing services that help the oil and gas industry find and extract more fossil fuels and that it stop giving campaign donations to politicians who deny climate change is happening.

Mr. Bezos outlined a plan to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, and instead of joining existing alliances working on climate change, he announced a new effort, Climate Pledge, and said he would push other organizations to join.

To help meet its goal, Mr. Bezos said, Amazon is ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks from Rivian, a Michigan company in which Amazon invested $440 million in February. He visited Rivian a year ago, checking out prototypes and meeting with its chief executive, R. J. Scaringe.

Mr. Bezos introduced the Climate Pledge alongside Christiana Figueres, who was an architect of the landmark Paris climate agreement while at the United Nations. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, the world’s total emissions of carbon dioxide must be reduced to net zero by around 2050, climate scientists have said. President Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in 2017.

“Whatever Amazon does does not stay within Amazon,” Ms. Figueres said. “It has a much bigger impact.”

But Mr. Bezos punted on many of the workers’ specific demands. Amazon would still continue to sell its cloud services to the oil and gas industry, he said. And while the company is taking a “hard look” at whether its political donations are going to “active climate deniers,” Mr. Bezos stopped short of saying the company would not give them more money in the future.

“We’re going to work hard for energy companies, and in our view we’re going to work very hard to make sure that as they transition that they have the best tools possible,” he said.

Emily Cunningham, a designer at Amazon who helped organize the walkout, praised Amazon for taking action on climate change. But she said the employees would proceed with their walkout plans on Friday and continue to press on these issues.

“Climate leadership is not compatible with actively helping fossil fuel companies extract oil and gas faster,” she said. “Scientists say that to avoid catastrophic warming, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

[Get the Bits newsletter for the latest from Silicon Valley and the technology industry.]

Many other tech companies, like Google, have also made environmental promises. Amazon’s impact on the climate is more complicated than the impact that many of its tech peers have, in part because of its vast operation moving products into and out of its warehouses and to the doorsteps of customers. The data centers at the heart of its cloud computing services also need power to stay cool, and those services help customers in many industries, including energy companies.

The company’s annual carbon footprint is about 44.4 million metric tons — the equivalent of almost 600,000 tanker trucks’ worth of gasoline — according to data it released Thursday for the first time.

That takes into account the production of Amazon’s own brands, like its Echo devices and AmazonBasics batteries, but apparently not the manufacturing footprint of the other products it sells. Walmart has pushed suppliers to be more accountable for their emissions.

Emissions from a retailer’s supply chains are typically 10 to 11 times the emissions of its own operations, said Bruno Sarda, the president of CDP North America, a nonprofit that pushes for more environmental disclosures and commitments at companies.

He said Amazon’s carbon footprint put the company “in the top 150 or 200 emitters in the world,” alongside major energy companies and heavy-industry firms.

“For somebody in their line of business, it’s a really big number,” Mr. Sarda said.

Mr. Zuckerberg came to Washington to meet with lawmakers who have raised numerous concerns about Facebook. It was his first such visit since April 2018, when he testified about privacy and the spread of disinformation on the social network.

“He also had a good, constructive meeting with President Trump at the White House today,” a Facebook spokesman, Andy Stone, said in a statement on Thursday.

The meetings began on Wednesday night, when Mr. Zuckerberg met with Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the top Democrat on the powerful Commerce Committee, which is trying to pass consumer privacy legislation this year.

He dined that night at Ris, a restaurant in downtown Washington, with a group of senators convened by Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and one of the company’s most outspoken critics.

“The participants had a discussion touching on multiple issues, including the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data and encourage competition in the social media space,” said Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for Mr. Warner. The group also discussed Libra, Facebook’s controversial cryptocurrency.

On Thursday, throngs of reporters and photographers trailed Mr. Zuckerberg as he visited the offices of several lawmakers, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah, the Republican chairman of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, and Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas.

Senator Hawley of Missouri said he had told Mr. Zuckerberg on Thursday afternoon that Facebook should sell both Instagram and WhatsApp to address privacy and competition concerns. Facebook recently announced plans to integrate those services more directly with the rest of the company.

“I think it’s safe to say that he was not receptive to those suggestions,” Mr. Hawley said.

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Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Is Said to Involve Multiple Acts by Trump

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Whistle-Blower’s Complaint Is Said to Involve Multiple Acts by Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Office of the Director of National Intelligence Inspectors General House Committee on Intelligence Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

WASHINGTON — A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump was related to a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion with a foreign leader, according to interviews on Thursday.

The complaint was related to multiple acts, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for American spy agencies, told lawmakers during a private briefing, two officials familiar with it said. But he declined to discuss specifics, including whether the complaint involved the president, according to committee members.

Separately, a person familiar with the whistle-blower’s complaint said it involves in part a commitment that Mr. Trump made in a communication with another world leader. The Washington Post first reported the nature of that discussion. But no single communication was at the root of the complaint, another person familiar with it said.

The complaint cleared an initial hurdle when Mr. Atkinson deemed it credible and began to pursue an investigation. But it has prompted a standoff between lawmakers and the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn it over to Congress, as is generally required by law. It has become the latest in a series of fights over information between the Democratic-led House and the White House.

Democrats emerged from Mr. Atkinson’s briefing and renewed their accusation that the Trump administration was orchestrating a cover-up of an urgent and legitimate whistle-blower complaint that could affect national security.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters after the briefing that he still did not know the contents of the complaint and had been unable to get an answer to whether the White House was involved in suppressing it.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” he said. “I think the law is written very clearly. I think the law is just fine. The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Mr. Schiff said he would explore potential recourse with the House’s general counsel to try to force the release of the complaint, including potentially suing for it in court.

Few details of the whistle-blower complaint are known, including the identity of the world leader involved in the single known communication. And it is not obvious how an exchange between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader could meet the legal standards for a whistle-blower complaint that the inspector general would deem an “urgent concern.”

Under the law, the complaint has to concern the existence of an intelligence activity that violates the law, rules or regulations, or otherwise amounts to mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to public safety. But a conversation between two foreign leaders is not itself an intelligence activity.

And while Mr. Trump may have discussed intelligence activities with the foreign leader, he enjoys broad power as president to declassify intelligence secrets, order the intelligence community to act and otherwise direct the conduct of foreign policy as he sees fit, legal experts said.

Mr. Trump regularly speaks with foreign leaders and often takes a freewheeling approach. Some current and former officials said that what an intelligence official took to be a troubling commitment could have been an innocuous comment. But there has long been concern among some in the intelligence agencies that the information they share with the president is being politicized.

Andrew P. Bakaj, a former C.I.A. and Pentagon official whose legal practice specializes in whistle-blower and security clearance issues, confirmed that he is representing the official who filed the complaint. Mr. Bakaj declined to identify his client or to comment.

Mr. Trump denied wrongdoing on Thursday, explaining that he would not “say something inappropriate” on calls where aides and intelligence officials from both sides routinely listen in.

But Mr. Trump’s actions were startling enough to prompt the intelligence official to file a formal whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 12 to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies. Such a complaint is lodged through a formal process intended to protect the whistle-blower from retaliation.

Mr. Schiff has been locked in the standoff with Mr. Maguire over the complaint for nearly a week. He said Mr. Maguire told him that he had been instructed not to give the complaint to Congress, and that the complaint addressed privileged information — meaning the president or people close to him were involved.

Mr. Schiff has said that none of the previous directors of national intelligence, a position created in 2004, had ever refused to provide a whistle-blower complaint to Congress. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena last week to compel Mr. Maguire to appear before the panel. He briefly refused but relented on Wednesday, and is now scheduled to appear before the committee in an open hearing next week.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, said on Thursday that he and the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, also expected both the inspector general and acting director to brief them early next week and “clear this issue up.”

Mr. Maguire and Mr. Atkinson are at odds over how the complaint should be handled. Mr. Atkinson has indicated the matter should be investigated, and alerted the House and Senate Intelligence committees, while Mr. Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, says the complaint does not fall within the agencies’ purview because it does not involve a member of the intelligence community — a network of 17 agencies that does not include the White House.

[Read a pair of letters from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about the complaint.]

The inspector general of the intelligence community “determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent, and that it should be transmitted to Congress under the clear letter of the law,” Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said the law is “very clear” that the whistle-blower complaint must be handed over to Congress.

“The Inspector General determines what level of concern it is,” said Mr. King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Once the determination is made,” he added, the director of national intelligence “has a ministerial responsibility to share that with Congress. It is not discretionary.”

“This is based upon the principle of separation of powers and Congress’s oversight responsibility,” Mr. King said.

Mr. Maguire was named the acting director in August, after the president had announced that the previous director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, would be stepping down. Mr. Trump had planned to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, a Trump loyalist without an extensive background in intelligence. But the president dropped the plan after lawmakers from both parties raised concerns about Mr. Ratcliffe’s qualifications and possible exaggerations on his resume.

The reports about the whistle-blower complaint touched off speculation about what Mr. Trump said and to whom.

In the weeks before the complaint was filed, Mr. Trump spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.

And current and former intelligence officials have expressed surprise that during his first few months as president, Mr. Trump shared classified information provided by an ally, Israel, with the Russian foreign minister.

Such disclosures are not illegal, but Mr. Trump flouted intelligence-sharing decorum by sharing an ally’s intelligence without express permission.

Mr. King expressed some doubt about how serious the underlying complaint might be.

“I am a little concerned it is being overblown,” Mr. King said. “On the other hand, it may be significant. But we won’t know that for a few days.”

Charlie Savage and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

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Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated

Lawyers for President Trump argued in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that he cannot be criminally investigated while in office, as they sought to block a subpoena from state prosecutors in Manhattan demanding eight years of his tax returns.

Taking a broad position that the lawyers acknowledged had not been tested, the president’s legal team argued in the complaint that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House.

The president “cannot be subject to criminal process, for conduct of any kind, while he is serving as president,” the lawyers wrote in the complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court.

While it is unclear how a judge will view the argument, the case is likely to delay the latest attempt to secure Mr. Trump’s financial records.

The lawsuit was filed in response to a subpoena issued late last month by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm. The subpoena sought eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as the office investigates the role that the Mr. Trump and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Both Mr. Trump and the company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing in July that they had “effectively concluded” their investigation into possible crimes committed by the president’s company, the Trump Organization, or its executives. Neither the company nor any of its leaders were charged. However, the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is exploring whether the reimbursements violated any New York State laws.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday was the latest effort by the president and his legal team to stymie multiple attempts to obtain copies of his tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sued to block attempts by congressional Democrats and New York State lawmakers to access his tax returns and financial records. But their arguments in those cases had been made on narrower grounds.

It is an open question whether sitting presidents are immune from prosecution while in office. The Constitution does not explicitly address the issue, and the Supreme Court has never answered the question.

Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a federal crime, because the Justice Department — in memos written during the Nixon and Clinton administrations — has interpreted the Constitution to implicitly grant presidents temporary immunity while they are in office. Those memos, however, do not bind the hands of state prosecutors.

Presidents have been subject to federal criminal inquiries in the past, including Mr. Trump, who was recently a subject of an investigation conducted by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, that examined ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr. Mueller said in May that the Justice Department memo “explicitly permits” the investigation of presidents, although he acknowledged that they cannot be charged with federal crimes.

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump
Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

May 13, 2019

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v5 Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated Vance, Cyrus R Jr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns Trump Organization Sekulow, Jay Alan Mazars USA Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

In their lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers took their arguments a step further, arguing that no criminal investigation of a sitting president was constitutional. They took particular issue with any investigation conducted by “a county prosecutor,” such as the Manhattan district attorney.

Mr. Vance’s office is seeking a range of tax documents from Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, including federal and state tax returns for both the president and the Trump Organization, dating to 2011.

In their lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who have repeatedly called Mr. Vance’s investigation politically motivated, wrote that state and local prosecutors were particularly susceptible to opening investigations to advance their careers at the expense of the federal government.

“A county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to do just that,” the complaint said.

The complaint called prosecutors’ effort to obtain Mr. Trump’s personal records “a bad faith effort to harass the president by obtaining and exposing his confidential financial information.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are seeking an injunction stopping both Mazars USA and Mr. Vance from taking action on the subpoena until after Mr. Trump leaves office.

“We are in court to protect the president’s rights and the Constitution,” said Marc L. Mukasey, a lawyer for the Trump Organization.

A spokesman for Mr. Vance said the district attorney would respond in court and had no additional comment. Mazars USA said it would “respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

Mr. Vance’s investigation has been focused on $130,000 that Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels just before the election. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to violating federal campaign finance laws. He received a three-year prison sentence.

Mr. Vance’s office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. It was unclear if the scope of the subpoena — including Mr. Trump’s personal records — meant that the inquiry had widened.

In New York, filing a false business record can be a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. Mr. Trump’s tax returns, if Mr. Vance’s office obtains them, would be protected by rules governing grand jury secrecy and not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case.

Ben Protess, Charlie Savage and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

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Trade Conflicts Weigh on Confidence, Posing a Risk to Trump

Westlake Legal Group 19survey1-facebookJumbo Trade Conflicts Weigh on Confidence, Posing a Risk to Trump United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion International Trade and World Market Customs (Tariff) Consumer Behavior

Economists and business leaders have been warning for months that President Trump’s trade war could damage the economy. The American public increasingly shares those concerns.

Consumers have been a bulwark of support for the economy, remaining confident even as hiring has slowed, the manufacturing sector has slumped and financial markets have grown volatile. But cracks are beginning to show. Several major measures of consumer sentiment have dipped in recent weeks, with many consumers citing tariffs as a reason for their pessimism.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans say the conflict with China will be bad for the United States, according to a survey this month for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey. That’s up from 53 percent in June, the last time that question was asked. An even larger share of respondents, 63 percent, think Mr. Trump’s trade policies will be bad for the economy, at least in the short term, also up from an earlier survey.

There are signs the White House is taking notice. The administration is racing to secure limited trade deals with Japan and India before the end of the month that would open their markets to American farmers. And last week, the Trump administration said it would delay a round of tariff increases on China scheduled for next month. Mr. Trump described the decision as a “gesture of good will,” but some analysts saw a political motivation: Farmers, a key constituency for Mr. Trump, have grown increasingly frustrated with the administration’s trade policies.

Stories of struggling farmers are proving influential even with voters outside farm country.

“The trade war with China, I feel like, is just destroying farmers and agriculture industry,” said Ashley Connor, who sells beauty products from her home in Nashville.

Ms. Connor, a 39-year-old mother of two, is about to start a job with UPS. She is also considering working part time at an Amazon warehouse. But while plenty of jobs are available, few pay a living wage, at least for people like her who lack a college degree, she said. The trade fight, she added, is emblematic of Mr. Trump’s overall approach to the economy.

“He’s taking care of all his rich friends, and he’s kind of gutting every program for lower- and middle-class families,” she said. “I just don’t feel like the economy is set up for people like me.”

Consumer sentiment has proved resilient. One closely watched measure, from the University of Michigan, rebounded in September after falling sharply in August, although it is still down over the past year. Actual spending has stayed strong.

“There’s not one big crisis, just a general sense of unease,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey. “We have all these same underlying conditions of political uncertainty and uncertainty about the likelihood of a recession, but people are still, over all, optimistic about where things are.”

Aditya Bhave, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said tariffs had done relatively little to dent consumer confidence so far. But he said that could change if the Trump administration followed through on threats to raise tariffs on consumer goods, and if the uncertainty around trade caused an economic slowdown or layoffs.

Those risks could be rising. In a report on Thursday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development downgraded its economic outlook for the United States and the world as a whole, saying that “escalating trade policy tensions are taking an increasing toll on confidence and investment.” The Paris-based research and policy agency now expects United States economic output to grow 2.4 percent this year and 2 percent next year, more modest gains than estimated previously.

The administration has continued to defend its policies, arguing that Mr. Trump’s trade war will ultimately deliver benefits for the global economy by reforming China’s trading practices, and that naysayers are exaggerating the negative trends.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, the director of Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council, pointed to recent data showing that industrial production rebounded in August, and argued that the American economy had the potential to grow at 3 percent “or better.”

“The outlook for growth is good,” he said. “There’s certainly no recession.”

But business leaders who are bearing the costs of the trade war have been blunt.

On Wednesday, the Business Roundtable, an organization of corporate chief executives, said its members’ economic outlook had fallen sharply in the third quarter. More than half of the executives in the group’s survey reported that tariffs had caused a somewhat or very negative impact on their sales. Companies said they expected to hire fewer people and invest less in coming months.

“American businesses now have their foot poised above the brake, and they’re tapping the brake periodically,” Joshua Bolten, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “Uncertainty is preventing the full potential of the economy from being unleashed, limiting growth and investment here in the U.S.”

The trade war is particularly unpopular among people like Ms. Connor who disapprove of Mr. Trump’s broader performance in office. But the Times survey found concern even among those more sympathetic to the president. Two-thirds of independents say the fight with China will be bad for the United States, and support has also softened somewhat among Republicans. (Among those who strongly approve of Mr. Trump, however, only 11 percent say the conflict will be bad for the country.)

Travis Wolff, a recruiter for a trucking company in Lubbock, Tex., describes himself as a moderate who tends toward conservatism on economic issues. He didn’t vote for either major-party candidate in the last presidential election. While Mr. Trump has exceeded his expectations in office, Mr. Wolff said, he doesn’t like the president’s approach to trade.

“I don’t think tariffs are necessarily beneficial to either country,” he said. “It’s not like government is paying for that. We’re paying for that. We’re bearing the brunt of it.”

Mr. Wolff, 37, said the economy was doing well in his area now, thanks to the West Texas oil boom, but said he didn’t feel that Mr. Trump deserved much credit for that — and he thinks a recession is likely next year. He said he would consider voting for a Democrat in 2020, particularly if the nominee was one of the more moderate candidates, like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But Democratic presidential candidates have struggled to articulate to voters exactly what they would do differently from Mr. Trump on trade. While Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas have released detailed trade agendas, most of the other candidates have been vague on their plans, besides general criticism of Mr. Trump and a vow to work more closely with allies. In a debate last week, several candidates said they would not roll back Mr. Trump’s China tariffs immediately.

Bruce Friedman, a 67-year-old registered nurse in the Hudson Valley of New York, said tariffs were hurting farmers and consumers and were threatening the broader economy. He said Democrats should spend less time criticizing Mr. Trump and more time laying out their own plans.

“If they talked about trade and things like that, they might get ahead,” Mr. Friedman said. “That’s what they need to talk about, is how they’re going to help the working people, the middle class.”

But another survey respondent, Gustave Miracle, illustrated the delicate position facing Democrats. Mr. Miracle, a Catholic priest outside Boston, said he deeply opposed Mr. Trump’s immigration policies but appreciated his trade policies, which he saw as an effort to stand up for American workers.

“I appreciated the fact that there was a lot of talk about the blue collar in America,” he said of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Mr. Miracle, 45, said he doubted that Mr. Trump’s policies would bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. But he said they were worth trying.

“It’s moral to have that fight, to stand for the American laborer, for the American average citizen,” he said.

About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 2,740 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus three percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

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Watchdog Refuses to Detail Whistle-Blower Complaint About Trump

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Watchdog Refuses to Detail Whistle-Blower Complaint About Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Office of the Director of National Intelligence Inspectors General House Committee on Intelligence Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

WASHINGTON — The internal watchdog for American spy agencies declined repeatedly in a briefing on Thursday to disclose to lawmakers the content of a potentially explosive whistle-blower complaint that is said to involve a discussion between President Trump and a foreign leader, according to two people familiar with the briefing.

During a private session on Capitol Hill, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, told lawmakers he was unable to confirm or deny anything about the substance of the complaint, including whether it involved the president, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door conversation. The meeting was still underway.

The complaint, which prompted a standoff between Congress and Mr. Trump’s top intelligence official, involves a commitment that Mr. Trump made in a communication with another world leader, according to a person familiar with the complaint. The Washington Post first reported the nature of the discussion. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has refused to give the complaint to Congress, as is generally required by law, the latest in a series of fights over information between the Democratic-led House and the White House.

Few details of the whistle-blower complaint are known, including the identity of the world leader. And it is not obvious how a communication between Mr. Trump and a foreign leader could meet the legal standards for a whistle-blower complaint that the inspector general would deem an “urgent concern.”

Under the law, the complaint has to concern the existence of an intelligence activity that violates the law, rules or regulations, or otherwise amounts to mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to public safety. But a conversation between two foreign leaders is not itself an intelligence activity.

And while Mr. Trump may have discussed intelligence activities with the foreign leader, he enjoys broad power as president to declassify intelligence secrets, order the intelligence community to act and otherwise direct the conduct of foreign policy as he sees fit, legal experts said.

Mr. Trump regularly speaks with foreign leaders and often takes a freewheeling approach. Some current and former officials said that what an intelligence official took to be a troubling commitment could have been an innocuous comment. But there has long been concern among some in the intelligence agencies that the information they share with the president is being politicized.

Andrew P. Bakaj, a former C.I.A. and Pentagon official whose legal practice specializes in whistle-blower and security clearance issues, confirmed that he is representing the official who filed the complaint. Mr. Bakaj declined to identify his client or to comment.

Mr. Trump denied wrongdoing on Thursday, explaining that he would not “say something inappropriate” on calls where aides and intelligence officials from both sides routinely listen in.

But whatever Mr. Trump said was startling enough to prompt the intelligence official to file a formal whistle-blower complaint on Aug. 12 to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies. Such a complaint is lodged through a formal process intended to protect the whistle-blower from retaliation.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been locked in the standoff with Mr. Maguire over the complaint for nearly a week. He said Mr. Maguire told him that he had been instructed not to give the complaint to Congress, and that the complaint addressed privileged information — meaning the president or people close to him were involved.

Mr. Schiff said none of the previous directors of national intelligence, a position created in 2004, had ever refused to provide a whistle-blower complaint to Congress. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena last week to compel Mr. Maguire to appear before the panel. He briefly refused but relented on Wednesday and is now scheduled to appear before the committee in an open hearing next week.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, said on Thursday that he and the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, also expected both the inspector general and acting director to brief them early next week and “clear this issue up.”

Mr. Maguire and Mr. Atkinson are at odds over how the complaint should be handled. Mr. Atkinson has indicated the matter should be investigated, and alerted the House and Senate Intelligence committees, while Mr. Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, says the complaint does not fall within the agencies’ purview because it does not involve a member of the intelligence community — a network of 17 agencies that does not include the White House.

The inspector general of the intelligence community “determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent, and that it should be transmitted to Congress under the clear letter of the law,” Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Maguire was named the acting director in August, after the president had announced that the previous director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, would be stepping down. Mr. Trump had planned to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, a Trump loyalist without an extensive background in intelligence. But the president dropped the plan after lawmakers from both parties raised concerns about Mr. Ratcliffe’s qualifications and possible exaggerations on his resume.

The reports about the whistle-blower complaint touched off speculation about what Mr. Trump said and to whom.

In the weeks before the complaint was filed, Mr. Trump spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.

And current and former intelligence officials have expressed surprise that during his first few months as president, Mr. Trump shared classified information provided by an ally, Israel, with the Russian foreign minister.

Such disclosures are not illegal, but Mr. Trump flouted intelligence-sharing decorum by sharing an ally’s intelligence without express permission.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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San Francisco to Get Environmental Violation for Homelessness, Trump Says

Westlake Legal Group merlin_134644278_57735339-3e6c-4e4c-8cb8-b4bc788e6e7f-facebookJumbo San Francisco to Get Environmental Violation for Homelessness, Trump Says United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J San Francisco (Calif) Newsom, Gavin Los Angeles (Calif) Homeless Persons environment Carson, Benjamin S California

WASHINGTON — President Trump said late Wednesday that his administration would issue a notice of environmental violation against the city of San Francisco because of what he described as its homelessness problem.

Traveling aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington from a three-day trip to California and New Mexico, Mr. Trump told reporters that San Francisco was in “total violation” of environmental rules because of used needles that were ending up in the ocean.

“They’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon,” the president said, indicating that the city could be put on notice by the Environmental Protection Agency within a week that its homelessness problem was causing environmental damage.

He said tremendous pollution was flowing into the ocean because of waste in storm sewers, and he specifically cited used needles.

“They’re in serious violation,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “They have to clean it up. We can’t have our cities going to hell.”

San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, called Mr. Trump’s comments “ridiculous.”

“To be clear, San Francisco has a combined sewer system, one of the best and most effective in the country, that ensures that all debris that flow into storm drains are filtered out at the city’s wastewater treatment plants,” Ms. Breed said in a statement Wednesday night. “No debris flow out into the bay or the ocean.”

She also said that the city would be adding 1,000 shelter beds by next year, and is seeking to pass a $600 million bond to build more affordable housing and increase services for people with mental illnesses and drug addictions.

“In San Francisco,” Ms. Breed said, “we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state.”

The threat from the president was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump has clashed with politicians in California. On Tuesday, the administration said it would revoke the state’s ability to set tougher auto emissions standards, drawing a fierce rebuke from Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor.

The president has indicated for weeks that he is angry and frustrated by what he sees as an out-of-control homeless problem in San Francisco and Los Angeles — two heavily Democratic cities run by politicians who have been regularly critical of Mr. Trump.

On Twitter in July, the president lashed out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose district includes San Francisco, saying that the city was “not even recognizeable lately.”

“Something must be done before it is too late,” he added. “The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!”

During an interview in July with Tucker Carlson of Fox News, Mr. Trump lamented the state of American cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, suggesting that homelessness and drug use was so bad that it was a public health hazard.

“You can’t have what’s happening — where police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Carlson. “I mean, they’re getting actually very sick, where people are getting sick, where the people living there living in hell, too.”

He added that when world leaders come to an American city, they should not see homeless people. “They’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that,” he said. “I really believe that it hurts our country.”

Before the president’s trip this week to California, the administration signaled that the federal government would be looking for ways to address homelessness. A report in The Washington Post said several agencies had been ordered to find ways to confront the problem.

But there had been no indication before Wednesday night that the Trump administration intended to use environmental laws to do so.

It was also unclear what specific laws or regulations the E.P.A. would cite, or what actions the agency would demand from the city’s leaders in order to avoid the citation.

Tens of thousands of hypodermic needles are collected every month from the streets of San Francisco.

City officials have a longstanding program of distributing clean needles in an effort to reduce infectious diseases like H.I.V.

But the police have reported a sharp increase in heroin use on the streets; in August 2018 alone, the city’s Public Health Department, which has a needle recovery program, retrieved 164,264 needles, both through a disposal program and through street cleanups.

As the number of unsheltered people has increased, the amount of feces collected and cleaned up has also swelled. Last year, the city established a designated feces cleanup crew. The city has also increased the availability of mobile toilets.

Even before the president’s remarks aboard Air Force One, Democratic officials in California had been in the awkward position of agreeing with Mr. Trump about the need for a solution to homelessness — though they remained suspicious of the president’s real motivations.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, said on Tuesday as the president arrived in the state for a series of fund-raisers and a trip to the border. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

In fact, Mr. Trump has repeatedly indicated that his frustration with homeless people in some of the country’s major cities has more to do with making sure that others do not have to see them and less to do with concern about the homeless.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump said before attending one of his fund-raisers in Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, joined Mr. Trump on his trip out West and toured a new public housing development in San Francisco. But Mr. Trump’s comments on Wednesday indicated that he was not satisfied with addressing homelessness the usual way.

Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area has surged in recent years. The city of San Francisco has 8,011 homeless people, according to a count conducted this year, a 17 percent increase over 2017, the last time a count was conducted. Other nearby cities have had even larger increases, including San Jose (up 42 percent from two years ago) and Oakland (up 47 percent).

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 59,000 people are homeless, about 75 percent of whom are unsheltered, according to a point-in-time count released this year.

One major difference with the East Coast is that a large proportion of homeless in California are unsheltered — nearly 70 percent of the homeless, or about 90,000 people, live on the street.

California, the nation’s most populous state, also has the highest number of homeless in the country, according to 2018 federal data.

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