10 Leaders in Business, Politics and Arts Share Their Favorite Books of 2019 - The Wall Street Journal - Canada News Media
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10 Leaders in Business, Politics and Arts Share Their Favorite Books of 2019 – The Wall Street Journal



Flea, Zadie Smith and Robert Iger

Each year we ask more than 50 leaders and luminaries from literature, business, politics and the arts to name the best books they’ve read during the year. You could spend all day reading the full list—and all year reading the books.

Robert Iger

Ta-Nehisi Coates has become one of my favorite authors—he also writes the “Black Panther” comics—and his searing debut novel, “The Water Dancer,” will stay with me forever. I’m fortunate to work with some supremely talented writers and I certainly appreciate the immense power their stories have to develop empathy and an appreciation for the human condition. Our world needs great storytellers to teach us, to enlighten us and to open our minds to our differences. “The Water Dancer” is such a story and solidifies Mr. Coates as one of our great storytellers. The historian Yuval Noah Harari’s profound books have allowed me to consider the state of our world through the prism of the past. But in “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” Mr. Harari uses history to explore what our future may hold—and makes the case that we should not be afraid of change or disruption, but should rather embrace its inevitability and use it to move us forward. In a business as dynamic as ours, this is a vital lesson.

— Mr. Iger is the CEO of the Walt Disney Co. and the author of “The Ride of a Lifetime.”

Téa Obreht

In preparation for 2019 I found it necessary to break my lifelong habit of reading at bedtime. (It had grown troublesome as I became someone who works way too late and doesn’t realize she’s drifted off, then half-dreams her way through intricate plots at the disastrous pace of one chapter a night.) The rewards have been glorious: My afternoons were spent with Kathleen Alcott’s daringly inventive “America Was Hard to Find” and Karen Russell’s wild and wonderful “Orange World” and Lauren Wilkinson’s genre-bending “American Spy.” I was blown away, too, by

Salvatore Scibona’s

“The Volunteer,” which might be the first book I’ve ever read whose beginning made me cry. It starts with a tiny, desperate boy found at the Hamburg airport speaking an unknown language, and leads us from Latvia to Vietnam, New Mexico and Cambodia, through lifetimes and family myths, memories, upheavals and betrayals of mind and body.

— Ms. Obreht is the author of “Inland.”

Marc Benioff

This year, three extraordinary leaders remind us that we can all be a platform for change. In “The Ride of a Lifetime,” Robert Iger chronicles his amazing career—including his 15 years leading Disney. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stories illustrating key moments that shaped Disney’s history and Bob’s 45-year career. His “Lessons to Lead By” will help everyone, from new hires to chief executives. My good friend David Rubenstein brings us “The American Story,” applying his incredible interviewing skills to draw out deep insights from our nation’s top presidential historians. David’s book shows us how the past informs our understanding of the present and can shape our future. Roger McNamee’s “Zucked” captures the disastrous consequences of one of our most powerful companies not making trust its No. 1 value. Every page is a reminder that businesses can do more than make a profit; it should be a corporate responsibility to serve stakeholders as well as shareholders and improve the state of the world.

— Mr. Benioff is chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce and co-author, with Monica Langley, of “Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change.”

Zadie Smith

I reread “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and reremembered it’s a masterpiece. I read “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by

Shoshana Zuboff

and “Re-engineering Humanity” by Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger and wished everyone would read both before the re-engineering is total. I read “Potiki” by the Maori author Patricia Grace and thought she should get the Nobel. I read “Voices From Chernobyl” by Svetlana Alexievich and was glad she already has one. I read “Fleishman Is in Trouble” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner on a plane to Australia: I laughed and cried. The flight was so long I also read “A Month in Siena” by Hisham Matar. Everybody should get to spend a month with Mr. Matar, looking at paintings. I read “Black Lives: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Paris Exposition 1900,” edited by Julian Rothenstein, and felt thankful for Du Bois. I read “The Politics of Pain: Postwar England and the Rise of Nationalism” by Fintan O’Toole and wished I’d written it. I read “The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes”—that 16th-century servant who revealed the corruption of all masters—and marveled at how a long-departed consciousness could still feel present. I read “Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing” and wished that particular consciousness had not departed. I read “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” by Petina Gappah and “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang and felt delighted by fiction. I read “Feel Free” by Nick Laird and felt lucky to have a poet in the house.

— Ms. Smith is the author of “Grand Union.”

HR McMaster

It is difficult to overstate the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea. Not only as a direct threat to humanity, but also because a nuclear-armed North Korea would lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. If

Kim Jong Un

gets them, who doesn’t? The Kim family has never built a weapon it did not try to sell. As North Korea’s third-generation dictator threatens a “Christmas present” if the U.S. doesn’t accede to his latest demands, we would do well to understand better the emotions, ideology and worldview that drive and constrain his behavior. A great starting point is Anna Fifield’s “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.” The book is impeccably researched. The prose is lively. Ms. Fifield writes with wit and dark humor about a murderous and increasingly dangerous dictator. Through first- and secondhand accounts, she fills in the gaps of Mr. Kim’s life to paint a less-unfinished portrait of the man. He is smarter and more calculating than anyone gives him credit for, securing power by ramping up the nuclear and missile programs started by his predecessors. This book provides a valuable perspective on this formidable adversary and one of our most vexing foreign-policy challenges.

— Mr. McMaster is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Susan Packard

As I turned the final pages of Patti Callahan’s novel “Becoming Mrs. Lewis,” I couldn’t believe the two main characters had only known each other for a decade. The victim of an abusive husband, Joy Davidman flees America with her two small sons and sets up life in England. She becomes a writer and takes the chance to correspond with

C.S. Lewis,

author of the “Chronicles of Narnia” novels. Davidman wants to know more about Lewis’s conversion to Christianity from atheism. She, too, is a convert, from Judaism. Lewis writes her back, and the two become friends. Over the decade of their fierce and growing love, Davidman’s spirit and self-worth grow: “It wasn’t until England I saw who I could be: a brilliant light, cherished for who I was.” Her love in turn transforms Lewis from a man living only in his intellect. “Logic takes no account for the heart,” she tells Lewis. “How can you tell a heart what to do?” She opens him up to the grace of living fully and vulnerably, and changes this brilliant writer forever.

— Ms. Packard is a co-founder of HGTV and the author of “Fully Human.”

Andrew Yang

Artificial intelligence and other new technologies have the potential to change our economy and society in unpredictable ways. Even techies don’t know what’s going to happen. Kai-Fu Lee’s “AI Superpowers” recognizes the power that will come from these technologies and the dangers of falling behind other countries, especially China. The book has shown itself to be particularly relevant and prescient. Few observers, even two or three years ago, could have predicted the current state of U.S.-China relations. The U.S. needs to invest in these areas to catch up, while also bringing the world together in an organization like the WTO for data.

— Mr. Yang is the founder of Venture for America and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate


Despite my dismay around the dystopian takeover of science fiction and the loss of hope, optimism and fascination that buoyed my Ray Bradbury childhood, I set my petty whining aside to tell you that Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” is a stunner. It’s a terrifying vision of a dismal future brought on by the willful ignorance, racism and greed of human beings, and an eerily dangerous parallel to our present path. Ms. Butler gives us a satisfying protagonist in the hypersensitive teenager Lauren, whose courage and wits are an infinite source of inspiration. Paulette Jiles’s “News of the World” is the only book I’ve read that caused me to yell out loud in the solitude of my bedroom. Young Johanna, displaced by the wildly shifting world around her, shows courage and spiritual depth beyond her years and filled my heart with purpose. It’s a history book and the most profound love story between Johanna and an elderly man named Capt. Kidd. Toni Morrison’s “Sula,” the first book I read together with my then-fiancée in our two-person book club, is an absolute epic. Love and yearning, pathos and racism, a deep friendship connection forged in secret trauma, it was the last Morrison book I read before her passing and must be held in the highest esteem.

— Flea plays bass for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and is the author of “Acid for the Children.”

Twyla Tharp

Three books recently gave me hope that consensus can be reached in our radically divided culture, emphasizing the optimism and courage to be had when we debate our differences. John Sexton’s “Standing for Reason” demonstrates the commitment needed from adults to support the development of knowledgeable and inquisitive young thinkers. Mr. Sexton, a former president of New York University, insists on the power of logic in dialogue to weld the silos of a large urban university into one force. It can be done. In “A Month in Siena,” Hisham Matar’s study of paintings found in this Italian city help transform the brutal loss of his father into a rebirth of faith. The iconography of three Sienese painters gives Mr. Matar his metaphor. In the first half of the 14th century, Ambrogio Lorenzetti portrayed a democratic Siena ruled through individual civic responsibility. In the latter half of that century, following the Plague, Bartolo Battiloro showed Siena’s community spirit deteriorating; its collective guilt and terror made the city susceptible to a hegemonic ruler. Then a century after the plague, Giovanni di Paolo represented individuals once again capable of communicating directly, without intermediaries, in a work appropriately titled “Paradise.” Józef Czapski’s “Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp” is just that. Czapski, a Polish officer, was captured during World War II and taken to a Russian hard-labor camp. At the end of each harsh day, the prisoners maintained their sanity by giving one another lectures on the subjects they knew best. As there were no written documents allowed, these recitations were entirely from memory. Czapski’s almost literal recall of Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” is incredible in its detail; yet even more impressive is his insistence that we can maintain humanity through communication with one another. May we all so triumph in the New Year.

— Ms. Tharp is a choreographer and the author of “Keep It Moving.”

Will Hurd

In “American Carnage,” Tim Alberta explains why our political system is where it is. He illuminates how trends like a widening chasm in incomes, a shredded national identity and a dissipating sense of societal cohesiveness have blurred together into an expression of outrage and how politicians have responded to these changes. He details how “elections in modern America are won principally by mobilizing the base, not persuading the middle.” This is dangerous: The only way we have solved problems in this country is by working together. “American Carnage” helps us understand how and why we’ve forgotten the basic truth that way more unites us than divides us.

— Mr. Hurd is a congressman from Texas.

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Politicians hit pause after Kobe Bryant's death – POLITICO




The news of Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday cut into a day of impeachment spin and early-states campaigning, with D.C. politicians and 2020 presidential candidates offering condolences and sending tweets about the retired NBA star.

Bryant, 41, was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday. According to several news reports, one of his four daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, was also on board.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that there were no survivors and that and an investigation was underway.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House manager in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, had spent the morning on news shows calling for more witnesses in the Senate process. Schiff, whose congressional district covers parts of L.A., later sent his thoughts and prayers to Byrant’s family, friends and all Lakers fans.

“I join the rest of Los Angeles in mourning the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others,” he tweeted. “One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe had a grace and athleticism unmatched in the NBA.”

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, lamented on Twitter: “This is the worst news. Kobe is an all-time great who had his entire life ahead of him. Today Kobe is the greatest of all time.”

In Iowa, former Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner in the Democratic race, took the stage at a campaign event co-hosted by the NAACP. There were audible gasps at the news of the crash, and a moment of silence followed. Then Biden spoke.

“It makes you realize you gotta make every day count,” he said in Des Moines. “Every single solid day, every single day count.”

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, entered the NBA after graduating from high school, becoming the league’s youngest player in 1996. A Philadelphia native and son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers during his entire 20-year career — winning five NBA titles with the team and two Olympic gold medals for the United States. He married his wife, Vanessa, in 2001, and after his sports career became a pop-culture icon and an Oscar winner for his 2017 short animated film, “Dear Basketball.”

Bryant’s legacy isn’t without controversy: In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel employee accused him of rape. Prosecutors later dropped the charges of sexual assault, but Bryant publicly apologized for what happened and settled a civil lawsuit filed by the accuser. Several fans acknowledged on social media that their grieving process is complicated.

The athlete’s death also came one day after the Lakers forward LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. On Saturday night, Bryant had given a hearty congratulations on Twitter: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles tweeted shortly after the news broke: “Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.”

Several lawmakers, from Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii to Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, acknowledged the basketball legend’s death and impact over the course of the day. (Rubio tweeted a direct, “#ripkobe.”)

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) lambasted Trump for continuing to tweet about his ongoing impeachment trial as social media zeroed in on Bryant’s death.

Responding to one of Trump’s posts — “Nothing done wrong, READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — Rush wrote: “We have literally just learned that a beloved role model to millions of Americans across the country has tragically died. Can you please shut your mouth and stop thinking about yourself for 24 hours? Please.”

Trump later tweeted: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”

Former President Barack Obama also shared his thoughts on Twitter, writing that Bryant, “a legend on the court,” was getting started in what would have been a just-as-meaningful “second act.”

“To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents,” he added. “Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Maya King contributed to this report.

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Netanyahu, Putin, and the Politics of Memory at the World Holocaust Forum – The New Yorker



Even better for Netanyahu, while he was giving Pence a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, word leaked that Trump had invited him and Benny Gantz, his main rival in the upcoming election, to the White House on Tuesday, to join him in presenting his so-called peace plan. According to reports in the Times, the plan is tailored to Netanyahu’s specifications, which the Palestinians will reject out of hand: Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, most of the settlements (read: thirty per cent more of the West Bank), and the Jordan Valley. The Israeli media has suggested that the Palestinians would get a state, though virtually no return of refugees, and only if Gaza is disarmed and the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. We have to await the full text to see just what Trump’s plan will call for.

But, clearly, announcing the plan in a White House ceremony, while Trump is being tried in the Senate, and five weeks before Netanyahu faces voters—and on the very day the Knesset is scheduled to debate, and likely deny, his request for immunity from prosecution—is a transparent stunt to promote both men. Gantz, who is trying to poach some of Likud’s right-wing voters, and in the process has clumsily endorsed annexation of the Jordan Valley—“in coordination with the international community,” according to the Times—could not dismiss the plan out of hand. But he obviously knew he was being invited into a public-relations ambush, to sit in Trump’s presence while Netanyahu grandstands with Trump’s White House allies. So, on Saturday evening, Gantz announced that he would go to Washington, but to meet with Trump privately, on Monday, to discuss how Trump’s plan could serve as “the basis for progress toward an agreed settlement, vis a vis the Palestinians, and the states of the region, while continuing and deepening a strategic partnership with Jordan, Egypt, and other regional states.” He will then return to Israel to vote no on immunity for Netanyahu. But Netanyahu will also meet with Trump, and will stay in Washington after Gantz returns. There, at least, he will likely have another good day.

If the forum was destined to host a clash of the scarred, it might well have been between Israel and Poland. Netanyahu and Duda, the President of Poland, have nursed public grievances. In February, 2018, the Polish government, dominated by the far-right Law and Justice Party, proposed a bill to parliament that would make it a criminal offense to accuse the Polish nation or the wartime Polish state of being responsible for, or a partner to, Nazi crimes. This set off the Israeli government because of violence carried out against Polish Jews by other Poles, most notoriously during the Jedwabne pogrom, of 1941, and the Kielce massacre, of 1946. But the proposed bill also cut against the Likud axiom that Polish anti-Semitism is a feature of the diaspora. (The Israeli Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, said that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”) The law, in any case, was amended, in June of that year, and Netanyahu and Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, signed a joint declaration agreeing, in effect, that some Poles were implicated in the crimes, but not as any kind of official policy. (“Unfortunately, the sad fact is that some people—regardless of their origin, religion or worldview—revealed their darkest side at that time,” the declaration said.)

But the real reason Duda declined to come to the forum was that he was not offered a speaking slot. That was more Russia’s doing than Israel’s, though it also exposed the extent to which “memory” can become spin. Since the last forum, at Auschwitz, in 2015, Poland and Russia have been in the grip of a diplomatic standoff. That year, Poland was hosting, and Putin had recently invaded Ukraine. The Polish President at the time, Bronisław Komorowski, along with leaders of the World Jewish Congress, Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer wrote, failed to issue Putin a personal invitation to participate, and Putin, miffed, boycotted the event. Since then, he has found it increasingly useful to traffic in a rehabilitated reputation of Stalin’s staunch wartime regime and the undeniable heroism of the Red Army. Poland’s Law and Justice Party, for its part, has railed against the postwar Soviet occupation of the nation; it has also found it useful to recall Stalin’s 1939 pact with Hitler to divide Poland and his consequent massacre, in 1940, of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn forest, as symbols of Polish tragedy. So, last December, Putin began a new disinformation campaign, charging that Poland had formed an anti-Soviet alliance with Germany, in 1938, and annexed a part of Silesia during the division of Czechoslovakia. He also recalled, out of context, a dispatch from that year by Poland’s Ambassador to Nazi Germany, Józef Lipski, in which Lipski endorsed Hitler’s apparent plan to deport Jews to Africa. The inference was that Poland had no right to pose as a victim—not, at least, as Russia’s victim.

With Russia strongly influential in Syria, and Israel bombing Iranian forces there—and with Russia detaining an American-Israeli backpacker for trivial drug possession—Netanyahu seems to have felt that it would be prudent to keep Putin content, and Duda off the stage. Earlier in the day, in a Jerusalem park, Netanyahu, with Putin at his side, unveiled a memorial to the siege of Leningrad, Putin’s birthplace. Putin seems to have returned the favor by not advancing new claims against Poland during his address at the forum.

But he did note that the Nazis had collaborators in some of the countries they occupied. “Where these criminals were operating,” Putin said, “the largest number of Jews were killed; thus, about 1.4 million Jews were killed in Ukraine.” For a moment, one could almost forget how times have changed, that Ukraine’s current President is a Jew, or that Russia’s proxy forces are at war with Ukraine, or that Putin has been trying to deflect anger at Russia’s meddling in the 2016 American election by falsely implicating the Ukrainians. Later, he conceded that “the Nazis intended the same fate [as Jews] for many other peoples. Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, and many other peoples were declared Untermensch.” But, with Duda absent, his first point hung in the air like a dirigible.

“I have never seen a time when European governments are so quiescent with regard to the Netanyahu government—so willing to accommodate its uses of the Holocaust,” Amos Goldberg, an expert on Holocaust history and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told me. He added, “The Israeli, Polish, and Russian governments, all custodians of grim histories, are also reactionary populists—all using memory to make their nations dangerously self-justifying. For Israel, this means insisting that Polish anti-Semitism is endemic; for Poland, it means seeing Polish anti-Semitism as episodic. But this is not a real fight over history. It is a rival ‘memory’ in the service of a similar politics.”

On the day of the forum, a group of sixty-two Muslims from twenty-eight countries, including twenty-five religious leaders—and the head of the Muslim World League, Mohammed al-Issa, from Saudi Arabia—visited Auschwitz and were called to prayer. Issa is a former Saudi Justice Minister, and would not likely have gone without clearance from the royal family. He said that it was a crime to “falsify history,” especially “the most atrocious crime in the history of mankind.” It may be just a coincidence that a Saudi official made this gesture right before Trump’s impending announcement of his deal. But it’s obvious that the Trump Administration assumes that it will need the Saudis to reassure Israelis that the region will accept the plan, while pressuring the Palestinians to accept much less than what they have expected in the past. The Saudis assume the need for protection from Iran. Another remembrance shadowed by another national interest.

Perhaps such uses of memory are unavoidable. Ilona Karmel flinched at them, even if she had become resigned to them. She once told me that the Płaszów death camp had provided her with a moment of clarity that she had not experienced since. “It was the only time in my life,” she said, “that I knew, absolutely, the difference between right and wrong.”

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In Impeachment Trial, Geography Dictates Politics – The New York Times



WASHINGTON — When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a curse-laden tirade to a reporter on Friday, asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” he was getting at an essential element of President Trump’s defense in the impeachment trial. The White House is convinced that Americans are indifferent to what happens in the struggling former Soviet republic, and they may well be right.

But the impeachment trial is about more than the fate of Ukraine — and whether Mr. Trump sold it out for a “domestic political errand,” as his former adviser, Fiona Hill, put it so bitingly. To Democrats, it’s about a president who undercut his own administration’s stated goal of pushing back hard against Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia — the geopolitical challenge of a new, very different Cold War.

It is one of those cases where the geography of the debate shapes the politics of the argument.

As long as the president’s lawyers can focus the debate on the narrower question of Ukraine, they can argue that the charges against the president focus on a foreign policy sideshow: how the president uses the spigot of American aid and attention to mold another country’s behavior.

“They basically said, ‘Let’s cancel an election over a meeting with the Ukraine,’” Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, said on Saturday, characterizing the Democrats’ arguments as he opened the president’s defense. Mr. Cipollone made the case that the Democrats are seeking to undo Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory or fear that they cannot beat him in 2020.

Yet the defense team’s characterizations about Ukraine are also designed to make the impeachment charges appear to be on a fundamentally trivial affair, surrounding the treatment of a faraway country that, as Mr. Pompeo suggests, most people could not find on a map stripped of country names. (He challenged the NPR reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, to identify Ukraine, and she reported that she did.)

That is precisely why the man leading the Democrats’ prosecution of the case, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, focused so relentlessly on Russia last week.

Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, understands that Russia resonates in a way that Ukraine never can. His argument revives questions of whether Mr. Putin has some strange, still unexplained control over the American president — which is why Mr. Schiff played the cringe-worthy tape of Mr. Trump’s news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in summer 2018. In his public statements, Mr. Trump appeared to adopt the Russian leader’s self-interested theory that someone else was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers in the last presidential election.

“It’s a breathtaking success of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Schiff said. “This is the most incredible propaganda coup,” he continued, because “it’s not just that the president of the United States standing next to Vladimir Putin is reading the Kremlin talking points. He won’t read his own national security staff talking points.”

Cast that way, this is no argument over the history of American aid to Kyiv. It is part of a battle over Russia’s use of Ukraine as a petri dish in disruption — the place where Mr. Putin has experimented with seizing territory, undermining a hostile government and conducting cyberattacks that literally turned off the lights.

And it is an argument over Mr. Putin’s efforts to manipulate the 2020 election, at a moment when even Mr. Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security says the Russians are already testing new techniques. By demanding that the new president of Ukraine investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and a political opponent of Mr. Trump, and reviving theories that the Democratic National Committee’s server is somewhere in Ukraine, Mr. Trump was essentially joining that manipulation effort, Mr. Schiff was saying.

“The threat that he will continue to abuse his power and cause grave harm to the nation,’’ Mr. Schiff said of the president, “is not hypothetical.”

In less partisan times — say, when a presidential election does not loom — Mr. Schiff’s argument might strike a political chord, chiefly because it is the Republicans who, until recently, have been particularly hawkish about Mr. Putin’s Russia.

It is easy to forget now, but when Mr. Trump tried to water down sanctions on Russia two years ago, his own party pushed back so hard that new penalties for Moscow passed 98 to 2. (In one of the strange twists of history, one of the two opposing votes was cast by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is a leading contender to take on Mr. Trump in November.) In the House, the measure passed 419 to 3. Angry, Mr. Trump signed the bill, knowing any veto would be overturned.

But the politics of impeachment are different than the politics of sanctions. So it is no surprise that, as the Republicans focus on Ukraine and the Democrats focus on Russia, both are bending the facts to fit their case.

Mr. Pompeo, for example, has been known to pause his episodic blasts at State Department correspondents to make the legitimate point that it was the Trump administration that gave powerful anti-tank weapons — called Javelins — to Ukrainian forces, a step that President Barack Obama refused.

The issue came up this weekend, as Jay Sekulow accused the Democrats of keeping that fact out of their 23 hours of arguments. “Javelin missiles are serious weapons,” Mr. Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer, reminded the senators at the trial on Saturday. He quoted the testimony of the two previous top American diplomats in Ukraine, including Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post last year, in one of the events at the center of the impeachment charges.

The Javelin incident is the best piece of evidence that the Republicans have at hand that Mr. Trump was willing to stand up to Mr. Putin. Almost everything else cuts the other way, leaving little doubt that in twisting the arm of the new Ukrainian government, Mr. Trump was not only pursuing his own political interests but also helping Mr. Putin’s.

Even before he was elected, Mr. Trump wondered aloud why the United States was helping Ukraine fight off the Russians. It made no sense, he argued in a March 2016 interview on foreign policy, his first extended discussion of his worldview as a candidate.

“Now I’m all for Ukraine, I have friends that live in Ukraine,” Mr. Trump said during the interview at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida golf resort. He complained that when the Obama administration moved to sanction Russia for its annexation of Crimea and “was getting very confrontational, it didn’t seem to me like anyone else cared other than us.”

He added: “Even their neighbors didn’t seem to be talking about it. And, you know, you look at Germany, you look at other countries, and they didn’t seem to be very much involved.”

In fact, they were very involved and continue to provide aid to Ukraine to prop up its democracy and its economy while often complaining about rampant corruption. But in the interview, Mr. Trump made no mention of corruption; instead, he lumped Ukraine in with the many other examples he cited of nations that the United States supports while other countries freeload.

The release over the weekend of a recording of Mr. Trump at a dinner in 2018 makes clear that the president understood early in his term that unless aid continued to Ukraine, it could be easily overrun.

“How long would they last in a fight with Russia?” Mr. Trump asked at the dinner.

“I don’t think very long,” said Lev Parnas, the Soviet émigré who worked for Rudolph W. Giuliani in pressuring Ukraine. “Without us, not very long.”

What’s missing from the record of Mr. Trump’s manipulation of the aid to Ukraine last summer is any indication that he sought an assessment from the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies or his own National Security Council over whether suspending American help could, in fact, lead to the downfall of the government.

And that, in the end, may be the most telling fact of all.

If nothing else, what Americans learned from watching the impeachment trial over the past week is that Mr. Trump regarded the conduct of foreign policy the way he has regarded any other policy: a chess move toward re-election rather than geopolitical advantage for the United States. Otherwise, there would be conversations weighing the benefits of restricting aid against the harm to American interests in countering the power of Russia.

There is anecdotal evidence that many around Mr. Trump did in fact push back — including Mr. Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel. Their arguments were ignored until a whistle-blower’s complaint made clear that the suspension of aid to Ukraine was about to become public.

So far, not one has testified as part of the impeachment process or spoken publicly about what they told Mr. Trump about the potential consequences of his domestic political errand. It is a silence that speaks as loudly as the arguments made in the Senate.

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