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Trump news: President demands billions for border wall as Pelosi says he 'isn't worth' impeaching

Follow our live coverage from yet another dramatic day in Washington

Joe Sommerlad
New York
,Clark Mindock
Monday 11 March 2019 22:00 GMT
Trump calls Russia investigation a 'collusion witch hoax' outside White House

Donald Trump will reportedly ask Congress for $8.6bn (£6.6bn) to build his southern border wall on Monday under proposals for his 2020 fiscal budget, a $3bn (£2.3bn) increase on his last estimate for the job.

The White House is proposing $2.7trn (£2trn) in spending cuts for the year beginning 1 October, a reduction of 5 percent across all non-defence agencies while military funding is boosted to $750bn (£577bn).

Senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were quick to shoot down the proposals, saying the president had “hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos” with the recent 35-day government shutdown and warning: “Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again.”

As Washington reacted to the budget proposal, the country's capital prepared for the anticipated report from special counsel Robert Mueller's office, which has dived into potential coordination between the Trump campaign, the president, and Russian interests during the 2016 election.

It is not clear when that report will be released, but observers say that the investigation is likely imminent. The week ahead itself will contain several high level updates that could set the stage for how the report is received, and what happens afterward.

But, with no specific word on whether the special counsel report will include recommendations to indictments against the president, leading Democrats are holding back from support for impeachment.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for instance, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she is worried about the divisive impact that impeachment proceedings would have on the American public.

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"He's just not worth it," Ms Pelosi said of impeaching the president.

That said, it appears unlikely that Democrats in control of the House would not pursue impeachment if a damning Mueller report were delivered to them form the attorney general's office.

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

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 09:14

President Trump will today revive the debate over funding his much-promised US-Mexico border wall with a request for for $8.6bn (£6.6bn) from Congress as part of his 2020 budget proposal.

That's a $3bn (£2.3bn) increase on his last estimate for the job.

"A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First" sees the White House proposing $2.7trn (£2trn) in spending cuts for the year beginning 1 October, a reduction of 5 percent across all non-defence agencies while military funding is boosted to $750bn (£577bn).

During the recent 35-day government shutdown, the longest in American history, the president demanded $5.7bn (£4.4bn) to build his wall but the Democrats stood firm and refused the request, prompting Mr Trump to yield, sign a spending bill pledging just $1.4bn (£1.1bn) towards the project and then declare a national emergency on the "crisis" of illegal immigration at the southern border.

This allowed him to invoke emergency powers and reallocate federal funding without consulting Congress, a move that has already been the subject of a resolution of disapproval in the House of Representatives and which will face a vote in the Senate this week.

A handful of Republican senators, uneasy over what they see as an overreach of executive power, are expected to join Senate Democrats in voting through the resolution. Congress appears to have enough votes to reject Mr Trump's declaration but not enough to overturn a presidential veto. 

Here's Clark Mindock.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 10:10

Leading Democrats immediately rejected the proposal. 

"Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again," said House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

"President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government."

"The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson," they said, arguing the "money would better be spent" on other issues such as education. 

They said the money "would be better spent on rebuilding America." 

Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, called the proposed cuts to essential services "dangerous."

He said President Trump had already added nearly $2trn (£1.54trn) to deficits with the Republicans' "tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations and now it appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price."

California senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris had this to add:

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 10:17

Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, has meanwhile insisted President Trump's proposal "embodies fiscal responsibility" and said his administration has "prioritised reining in reckless Washington spending", marking a "return to fiscal sanity."

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 10:39

While pushing down spending in some areas, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the proposal will seek to increase funding in others to align with the president's priorities.

Along with border wall money, the proposed budget will also increase funding to increase the "manpower" of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Customs and Border Patrol at a time when many Democrats are calling for cuts - or even the elimination - of those areas. The budget also proposes policy changes to end sanctuary cities. 

The administration will invest more than $80bn (£61.5bn) for veterans' services, a nearly 10 percent increase from current levels, including "significant" investments in rehabilitation, employment assistance and suicide prevention.

Mr Trump signed an executive order to establish a task force to address the latter issue last week after speaking on the subject at the White House. The group will be led by veterans' affairs secretary Robert Wilkie. An estimated 20 US military veterans take their own lives every day, according to Mr Wilkie.

The budget proposal will also increase resources to fight the opioid epidemic with money for prevention, treatment, research and recovery, the administration said. And it seeks to shift some federal student loan costs to colleges and universities.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 10:40

In seeking $8.6bn (£6.6bn) for more than 300 miles of new border wall, the budget request would more than double the $8.1bn (£6.2bn) already potentially available to the president for the wall as a result of his national emergency declaration last month - although there's no guarantee he'll be able to use that money if he faces a legal challenge, as is expected.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 11:01

This is interesting.

A Chinese business consultancy run by a donor to President Trump claimed it could provide clients with a chance to mingle and take photos with the president, along with access to his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. 

It remains unclear how much Li Yang's firm GY US Investments, registered in the Sunshine State in 2017 but now apparently defunct, charged for the services and whether she was ever hired to provide them. 

But the company's claims and other eyebrow-raising activity, which were first reported by The Miami Herald and Mother Jones, mark the latest in a litany of complications and ethical issues stemming from Mr Trump continuing to own and operate a private club where dues-paying members and their guests rub shoulders with the president of the United States and his family, friends, White House staff and members of his Cabinet. 

The firm "provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace," according to a translation of the page accessed through an internet archive service. 

That has included, the website claims, access to presidential dinners and roundtables, White House events, photo opportunities and "VIP" activities including the "opportunity to interact with the president, the Minister of Commerce and other political figures." 

The site also featured numerous photographs, including a picture of Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and photographs of Ms Yang with Mr Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, transportation secretary Elaine Chao and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka. 

Ms Yang is described on the website as the company's "Founder CEO," as well as a member of a "Presidential Fundraising Committee" and a "Presidential club member." 

Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, played down the significance of the webpage and photos Ms Yang has posted of herself with the president and other prominent Republican politicians. 

"Anyone can buy tickets to any event and I'm assuming that is what she had done," Ziegler said. "I've never met the lady and I could never pick her out of a police lineup." 

He added: "I know the media, Democrats, the left is going to try to do everything to connect her with us, but she had zero role with us. It just looks like she attended some events and took some pictures." 

Here's Tom Embury-Dennis.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 11:21

All this on another busy morning in Trumpland, at a time when the White House is again the subject of a conspiracy theory regarding the use of a "Fake Melania" on the president's recent visit to tornado-battered Alabama.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 11:40
Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 11:55

Here's what would happen if President Trump refused to leave office in the event of a defeat in the 2020 presidential election, a hypothetical scenario darkly hinted at by his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen in his recent testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Joe Sommerlad11 March 2019 12:10

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