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State of the Union: Trump interrupted by chanting as Pelosi rips up address on live TV

Follow the latest updates, as they happened

Clark Mindock
New York
,Alex Woodward
Wednesday 05 February 2020 04:42 GMT
Nancy Pelosi rips up Trump's State of the Union speech in front of him

Donald Trump has delivered his third State of the Union, a high-profile address made this year in the shadow of an ongoing impeachment trial and months away from the president's re-election.

The optimistic speech came just a day after Democrats oversaw a breakdown in its election processes in Iowa, where the 2020 Democratic primary season got off to a disastrous start that has still failed to deliver results nearly a day later.

But Mr Trump's speech was not without its own discord. Just before the address, the president was seen appearing to snub a handshake attempt from Ms Pelosi.

Then, after the speech, Ms Pelosi added to the night's drama by tearing up her copy of the speech, in plain view of the president and the cameras broadcasting the address across the nation.

The president had focused in his address on perceived victories over the past three years, and has remarked on his priorities for the coming year, reportedly including middle class tax cuts, school choice, immigration and the military.

He told one Philadelphia student that she would be getting a school scholarship, surprised a military family with the return of their soldier from Afghanistan and also instructed the first lady to give Rush Limbaugh the presidential medal of freedom, the highest honour for a citizen in the US.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 09:45

Iowa caucus descends into chaos after 'inconsistencies' detected as Team Trump jeer

As Donald Trump secured the Republican 2020 nomination from the Iowa caucus with ease, the Democratic push to choose a challenger descended into farce overnight after “inconsistencies” led to a disastrous delay in reporting the results and candidates having to give “victory” speeches without knowing where they stood in the polls.

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results," explained Iowa Democratic Party communications director Mandy McClure. "In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report.

“This is simply a reporting issue. The app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

With the results now expected "some time" on Tuesday, the likes of Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar nevertheless had to address their supporters in the Hawkeye State:

Joe Biden's campaign team has already written to the Iowa Democratic Party to demand a full investigation.

"We believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released," his lawyer Dana Remus commented.

Inevitably, Team Trump has wasted no time in capitalising.

Here's Andrew Buncombe's report on a night of high farce.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 10:00

Democratic presidential candidates leaving Iowa after results delayed

As the candidates jet out and we await an answer from the Midwest on the results of yesterday's caucus, you can follow coverage in our seperate liveblog on the fallout via the link below.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 10:20

Senate hears impeachment trial's closing arguments

The Senate meanwhile heard closing arguments from House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team yesterday, with Adam Schiff calling the defendant “a man without character or ethical compass” and imploring opposition senators to vote according to their consciences: “You are decent. He is not who you are.”

Monday's session saw the House prosecutors directing their remarks more towards history than any last ditch bid to sway the outcome, taking their one final chance to influence public opinion and set the record ahead of Trump's expected acquittal in the Republican-led Senate on Wednesday.

The House Democrats drew on the Founding Fathers and common sense to urge senators - and Americans - to see that the president's actions are not isolated but a pattern of behavior that, left unchecked, will allow him to "cheat"' in the 2020 election.

Schiff called on those few Republican senators who have acknowledged Trump's wrongdoing in the Ukraine matter to prevent a "runaway presidency" and stand up to say "enough."

"For a man like Donald J Trump, they gave you a remedy and meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath, and they meant for you to observe it," he said. "We have proven Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him."

The president's defence countered the Democrats have been out to impeach Trump since the start of his presidency, nothing short of an effort to undo the 2016 election and to try to shape the next one. "Leave it to the voters to choose," said White House counsel Pat Cipollone, again calling for an end to the partisan "era of impeachment."

All that's left, as the Senate prepares to acquit Trump on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress, is for Americans to decide now and in the November election, as the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation's history comes to a close.

Most senators acknowledge the House Democratic managers have essentially proven their case. Trump was impeached in December on two charges: that he abused his power like no other president in history when he pushed Ukraine to investigate rival Democrats, and he then obstructed Congress by instructing aides to defy House subpoenas.

But key Republicans have decided the president's actions toward Ukraine do not rise to the level of impeachable offence that warrants the dramatic political upheaval of conviction and removal from office. His acquittal in Wednesday's vote is all but assured.

Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rob Portman of Ohio are among those who acknowledged the inappropriateness of Trump's actions, but said they would not vote to hear more testimony or to convict.

"What message does that send? " asked Democrat Hakeem Jeffries. He warned senators that for Trump, the "past is prologue." He urged the Senate to realise its failure to convict will "allow the president's misconduct to stand."

The House Democrats unveiled a striking case centered on Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, running an alternative foreign policy that drew alarm at the highest levels. As part of the "scheme," Trump held up $391m (£302m) in US aid from Ukraine, a fragile ally battling Russia, for his personal political gain, they argued. The money was eventually released after Congress intervened.

As Chief Justice John Roberts presided, the House managers opened with a plea from Jason Crow, a freshman Colorado Democrat and former Army Ranger: "We cannot and should not leave our common sense at the door."

One by one, the Democrats drew on their life experiences to remind senators, and Americans, of the simple difference between right and wrong in the case against Trump. Val Demings, a former police chief, argued that the president is not behaving like someone who is innocent. She warned that if senators do not convict, Trump will try to "cheat" again ahead of 2020.

"You will send a terrible message to the nation that one can get away with abuse of power, cheating and spreading of false narratives," she told them.

Before Trump's celebrity defence mounted its closing argument, the president himself already registered his views on Twitter, where he decried the whole thing - as he often does - as a "hoax."

Ken Starr, the former prosecutor whose investigation led to Bill Clinton's impeachment, complained about the inadequacy of the House prosecutors' "fast track" case.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow showed political clips of Democrats calling for impeachment - with many lawmakers of colour, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a top Republican foil - to argue this was the "first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation's history, and it should be our last."

One key Trump lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who was forced to walk back a sweeping defense of presidential power in last week's arguments, did not appear.

Trump had wanted his acquittal secured before he arrived at the Capitol for his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, but that will not happen. Senators carrying the power of their votes to the history books wanted additional time to make their own arguments, in public speeches from the floor of the Senate. Those began on Monday afternoon and were expected to continue until Wednesday's vote.

The trial unfolded over nearly two weeks and reached a decisive moment last Friday when senators voted against calling witnesses and documents. Key Republicans said they had heard enough. It becomes the first impeachment trial in the nation's more than 200-year history without any witnesses.

Even new revelations from John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, whose forthcoming book discloses his firsthand account of Trump ordering the investigations, did not impress upon senators the need for more testimony.

Bolton said he would appear if he received a subpoena, but GOP senators said the House should have issued the summons and the Senate did not want to prolong the proceedings.

Prosecutors relied on a 28,000-page report compiled over three months of proceedings in the Democratic-controlled House, including public and private testimony from 17 witnesses, among them current and former ambassadors and national security officials with close proximity to the Ukraine dealings.

The case stems from Trump's 25 July call with Ukraine that he maintains was "perfect." A government whistleblower alarmed by the call filed a complaint that sparked the inquiry.

Here's John T Bennett's report on yesterday's proceedings.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 10:40

Trump's behaviour 'shameful and wrong' but I'm voting to acquit anyway, says Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, an unpredictable moderate in a polarised Washington, declared yesterday she will vote to acquit Trump, but not before leveling an attack against the president and fellow lawmakers of both parties during a partisan impeachment ordeal.

"The president's behaviour was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedent over those of this great nation," Murkowski declared in a speech to a near-empty Senate chamber.

It was no surprise that the 62-year-old senator attacked House Democrats, accusing them of a slapdash investigation of Trump's actions toward Ukraine and his alleged withholding of American aid in order to pressure Kiev to investigate Joe Biden.

But Murkowski took on not only Trump, but also fellow Republicans, Senate Democrats and the media. Alluding to a "demon" burning its way through Washington during the impeachment process that began late last September, Murkowski blamed "a careless media" that she said "cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline."

Long one of the few moderate voices in the Senate, Murkowski shocked the political establishment in 2010 when she became the first senator in more than 50 years to win re-election with a write-in campaign after the Republican Party tried to dump her in favour of a more conservative challenger. In the summer of 2017, Murkowski again was in the spotlight when she and two other moderate Republican senators - Susan Collins and the late John McCain - ruined Trump's push for a partial repeal of the "Obamacare" healthcare law.

On Monday she said, "I cannot vote to convict" Trump, and indicated a preference for a much softer penalty than the removal from office that Democrats have been clamoring for.

She went on to list transgressions on both sides of the political divide that she saw unfolding during this impeachment process, only the third in US history. She cited Trump supporters' eagerness to "have just dismissed the case as soon as it reached" the Senate and Trump's detractors' acting as if "the only way the trial could have been considered fair was if it resulted in the president's removal from office."

With a broad-brush criticism of both political parties, Murkowski spoke of their "apparent willingness... to destroy not just each other, but all of the institutions of our government. And for what? Because it may help win an election?"

Having castigated the House, the Senate, Trump and the media, Murkowski wrapped up her approximately 11-minute diatribe on a note of faint optimism: "It's my hope that we finally found bottom here."


Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 11:00

GOP senator calls for chamber to censure president

With many Republicans privately uneasy about voting for the president's acquittal for the sake of party unity while personally disapproving of his conduct, Wyoming GOP senator Joe Manchin - who has said he remains undecided on where his vote will ultimately fall - has suggested the chamber vote to censure Trump to ensure he at least receives some form of admonishment.

Here's more from John T Bennett. 

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 11:20

President Trump: 'Democratic Caucus is an unmitgated disaster'

Here's Trump putting the boot in over the Iowa debacle, as expected.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 11:40

President urged to move on in State of the Union address

Ahead of his likely acquittal in the Senate on Wednesday, Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to the nation this evening and is being urged by members of his own side not to dwell on his divisive impeachment and instead spread a message of national unity.

GOP senator Roy Blunt of Missouri urged him not to crow: “If I was him, I would avoid the subject. I think there’s plenty to talk about, and it’s an opportunity to move on.”

But will he be able to resist? I doubt it somehow. Especially given events in Iowa.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 12:00

Trump fidgets and conducts orchestra during Super Bowl national anthem

A new video of the president filmed at his "Super Bowl watch party" in Florida over the weekend by a real estate agent "from a Russian-American firm" (hmmm) is causing a stir after it shows him fidgeting during the national anthem and waving his arms as though to conduct the orchestra, rather than holding his hand solemnly over his heart.

It is being seen by some as a show of mocking disrespect.

Chirs Riotta has more

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 12:20

Eric Trump inspires 'Merry Christmas' to trend in February

The president's idiot sons held a "Keep Iowa Great" rally in Des Moines last night, touting their father's familiar attacks on "Crazy Bernie" and his fellow Democratic contenders.

So tired were their themes that Eric even brought up "the war on Christmas" - yep, that hoary old conservative myth - causing ironic greetings of "Merry Christmas" to trend on Twitter last night 11 months ahead of schedule.


Here's our report.

Joe Sommerlad4 February 2020 12:40

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