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As it happenedended1573777252

Trump news: Second staffer claims to have heard previously undisclosed call, as Pelosi says president admitted committing bribery

Trump petitions the Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from federal prosecutors as he hosts another rally in the Louisiana governor's race

Joe Sommerlad
New York
,Chris Riotta,Alex Woodward
Thursday 14 November 2019 20:12 GMT
The key moments from Trump's impeachment hearing

Donald Trump has said he “doesn’t remember” a compromising call he allegedly had with Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, which top diplomat Bill Taylor raised at the House impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, saying a member of his staff had overheard Mr Trump asking Mr Sondland about “the investigations”.

House investigators heard from Mr Taylor and State Department official George Kent yesterday, with both men describing the administration’s “irregular” dealings with Ukraine as the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his allies pushed for an anti-corruption probe into domestic political rival Joe Biden.

Republican counsel Steve Castor was ridiculed for his part in proceedings.

While the president entertained Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House and said he was not following the drama unfold, a federal appeals court in DC cleared the path for Congress to pursue Mr Trump’s tax records, setting up a potential Supreme Court battle.

On Thursday, the president petitioned the Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from federal prosecutors.

The news arrived as he boarded Air Force One for yet another rally in Louisiana to boost support for a Republican running against the state's Democratic governor.

The upcoming legal battle will likely test the limits of Mr Trump's presidential powers.

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

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 10:10

President 'doesn't remember' Sondland call raised at impeachment hearing

Donald Trump has said he “doesn’t remember” a compromising call allegedly made by Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, that acting Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor raised at the House impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, saying a member of his staff overheard Mr Trump asking about “the investigations”.

Trump gave the response during a joint press conference with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the East Room with the House hearings still ongoing in the Longworth House Office Building.

This was the moment Taylor dropped his bombshell revelation about Sondland's call to Trump from a Kiev restaurant, which he said had been brought to his attention since his earlier appearance before the panel behind closed-doors.

After the marathon hearing, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff stressed the significance of the development.

Here's our report.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 10:20

Senior diplomats spell out Ukraine irregularities in dramatic day on Capitol Hill

The testimony House investigators heard yesterday from Taylor and bowtied State Department official George Kent saw both men describing the administration’s “irregular” dealings with the Eastern European nation as the president’s personally lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his allies pushed for an anti-corruption probe into Mr Trump’s domestic political rival Joe Biden.

Here are some of the key exchanges with Taylor and Kent, which saw them make the case that Trump cared more about embarrasing Biden than the lives of the Ukrainians whom the American military aid approved by Congress was intended to save. 

This moment - in which Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, especially drafted in for the occasion, was brutally owned by Democrat Peter Welch of Vermont - was truly special.

Taylor and Kent gently making a fool of Republican counsel Steve Castor, having already batted away Trumpland conspiracy theories from raking Republican Devin Nunes, was also a total joy.

Here's Andrew Buncombe with six key takeaways from a dramatic day.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 10:35

'History in the making'

There were long queues to get into yesterday's hearing - with drag queen Pissi Myles among the throng, brandishing a selfie stick - as well as a press melee inside that left Texas Republican Louie Gohmert grumbling that he couldn't even see Taylor and Kent's faces over the bundle of photographers and journalists.

Our man Andrew Feinberg was there to soak up the chaos.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 10:50

Trump 'too busy' to follow impeachment hearing, blasts out 30 retweets denouncing proceedings

Trump himself insisted he was not following proceedings yesterday - despite retweeting some 30 attacks from friendly GOP members, his social media director Dan Scavino and the White House denouncing the Democratic-led inquiry.

"It's a witch hunt, it's a hoax, I'm too busy to watch it," Trump told reporters during his presser with Erdogan. "There's nothing there. I see they're using lawyers that are television lawyers. They took some guys off television. You know, I'm not surprised to see it because Schiff can't do his own questions."

The strategy from his inner circle appeared to be to dismiss the inquiry as "boring".

Here's Clark Mindock on the GOP reaction.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 11:05

George Conway slams Republicans: 'If Barack Obama had done this, they’d be out for blood and they’d be right'

On TV, Kellyanne Conway's anti-Trump husband George was invited on to MSNBC as a pundit to introduce proceedings, making a rare media appearance to criticise the president.

He did not disappoint, slamming Trump personally as well as Republican hypocrisy and desperation in seeking to defend him.

"If he’d just shut up about it and not tweeted 'witch hunt' 600 times there wouldn’t have been a whole volume two of the Mueller investigation," he told Nicolle Wallace.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 11:20

Court clears Congress to go after eight years of Trump tax returns

Trump must obey a House Oversight and Reform Committee subponea and release eight years' worth of tax returns, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has ruled. 

Judges on Wednesday again denied the president's bid to stop his accounting firm Mazars LLP from releasing the financial records to House Democrats. Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, said the president would appeal and take the fight to the US Supreme Court. 

The eight-three vote brings the opposition closer to shedding light on Trump's business interests and how he built his fortune.

Here's Tom Embury-Dennis's report.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 11:35

Trump insists he and Erdogan are 'very good friends' during White House visit

The president was working hard yesterday to insist relations between the US and Turkey are friendly a month on from his having to hastily agree a ceasefire after Ankara reacted to his decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria by bombing their Kurdish allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an entirely forseeable outcome given that the Turks are well known to consider the SDF a terror cause.

Trump even went so far as to claim Erdogan "has a great relationship with the Kurds", which is one way of putting it I suppose.

Extraordinarily, he also said the US would be "keeping", rather than safeguarding, Syria's oil assets, which would be a war crime.

Negar Mortazavi has this report.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 11:50

Erdogan reveals he gave back Trump's 'tough guy' letter

The Turkish president also revealed yesterday that he gave back Trump's letter of 9 October in which the latter implored him not to be a "tough guy" or a "fool" and make enemies for himself on the world stage by pursuing the Kurds.

He was previously reported to have thrown the message in the bin.

Trump did not respond to the declaration. 

Here's Alex Woodward's report.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 12:05

President up early to resume attack on impeachment inquiry

Trump is out of bed and quoting Texas Republican John Ratcliffe on the impeachment inquiry.

Ratcliffe was forced to withdraw as Trump's pick to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence in July after it became clear he would endure a rocky nomination hearing due to his chronic lack of qualifications for the role.

Joe Sommerlad14 November 2019 12:20

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