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Trump news: President attacks journalist in rambling press conference as impeachment inquiry escalates

Follow the latest updates from Washington

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad,Lily Puckett
Wednesday 02 October 2019 20:07
Trump accuses Adam Schiff of lying to Congress over Ukraine call

Donald Trump has been labelled “dangerous” and accused of “unhinged depravity” after he tweeted that the impeachment inquiry into his phone call with Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky amounted to a “coup” days after quoting a far-right Texas pastor’s warning that Congress risks creating a “Civil War like fracture” by pursuing him.

As his job approval rating slides to an all-time low, the president has been forced to deny reports emanating from a new book that he suggested shooting migrants in the legs, building a snake and alligator-filled moat at the US-Mexico border (no, really) and electrifying his much-touted wall before being told by aides his ideas were both illegal and impractical.

In a furious press conference with the Finnish president, Mr Trump snapped at reporters multiple times and appeared to be somewhat admonished by the visiting leader.

In other developments, 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders has been hospitalised following a chest complaint, House Democrats have threatened to subpoena the White House and secretary of state Mike Pompeo had admitted for the first time he was in on the Zelensky call. However, his aides are still denying that he took part in the attempts to get Ukraine to interfere with the 2020 election.

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

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 09:20

Donald Trump has been labelled “dangerous” and accused of “unhinged depravity” after he tweeted that the impeachment inquiry into his phone call with Ukraine's president amounted to a “coup” days after quoting a far-right Texas pastor’s warning that Congress risks creating a “Civil War like fracture” by pursuing him.

The president tweeted this last night...

...just days after quoting Islamophobic preacher Robert Jeffress at length atter seeing his appearance on Fox News.

The above led 2020 Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris to call for Twitter to suspend the president's account and strong condemnation from Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, who called Trump's rhetoric "beyond repugnant".

Now the president has been attacked by academic Brian Klass, who warns he is "going to get people killed".

Jon Sharman and Andrew Buncombe have more.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 09:35

The news is not about to get any better for this president, whose job approval rating has just fallen to an all-time low, according to a new poll from CNBC.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 09:50

The New York Times reports that the president suggested - get this - not only shooting migrants in the legs (!) but building a snake and alligator-filled moat at the US-Mexico border (!!) and electrifying his much-touted wall, before being told by aides his ideas were both illegal and impractical.

I mean, where to even start with that level of scalding hot madness?

Zamira Rahim has a go.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 10:05

Congressional committees investigating Trump’s now-infamous 25 July exchange with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky have summoned their first two diplomatic officials to testify, with others expected to follow.

Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will provide a deposition on 11 October while Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine who resigned from his position last Friday, will appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Their co-operation is being seen as a rebuke to secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who wrote to the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, on Tuesday to express his "concern" about the process, warning of attempts to "intimidate, bully and treat improperly" his staff. 

He says the dates provided for his own possible appearance "are not feasible", which has not gone down well.

The response amounts to a confrontation between the executive and legislative branches over impeachment and could both slow the probe and expose Trump to charges that he is obstructing Congress.

Here's Andrew Buncombe's report.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 10:20

Pompeo has set out for a four-nation tour of Europe, arriving in Rome to meet with Italian officials just hours after it was confirmed he was on the line during the Zelensky call, the first cabinet official known to have heard the exchange in which Trump apparently pressured his counterpart to investigate Hunter Biden's ties to a Ukrainian natural gas firm. 

The secretary ignored a question about the call in a meeting with Italy's president Guiseppe Conte yesterday. He was spared a possible repeat as he posed for photos with the prime minister when a young Italian woman tried to present him with a wedge of cheese to protest Trump administration trade tariffs.

The protester arrived with press credentials and threw the room into confusion by bursting through the rope line to present Pompeo with the Parmesan, produced in her hometown.

Pompeo appeared perplexed, perhaps thinking the woman was part of an official welcoming ceremony, but Conte grew angered when she appeared to deliver a plea for Pompeo to bring the cheese to Trump to show him that his threatened tariffs on European products would hurt local Italian businesses.

"I have a present," she said. "The prime minister knows what I'm talking about. This is something made best in Italy, made from the heart, so we hope you can help us in taking it to Mr Trump, please."

Conte ordered the woman removed from the room.

Pompeo is currently addressing the Vatican, telling a conference on human dignity and faith that when governments hold all the power, religion is a threat.

"When the state rules absolutely, human dignity is trampled, not cherished," he said. "When the state rules absolutely, moral norms are crushed completely. When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God."

He singled out China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and Syria in particular for repressing religious freedom.

From Italy, Pompeo will travel to Montenegro and North Macedonia before wrapping up his European trip in Greece.

This is the company he's keeping, by the way.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 10:35

Back at the White House, some more unflattering news to have emerged about the president's behind-the-scenes behaviour is being recounted in a new book excerpted in The New York Times.

"You're making me look like a f***ing idiot," he reportedly howled at Pompeo, senior adviser Stephen Miller and ex-Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen regarding immigration statistics, according to Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D Shear, the same source that gave us that extraordinary moat line earlier.

Here's Vincent Wood with more.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 10:50

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, already the subject of a House Intelligence Committee subpoena related to the impeachment inquiry, has threatened to sue Congress in his latest TV appearance.

Speaking on Laura Ingraham's Fox show last night, the former New York City mayor hit out at House Democrats, arguing their powers of oversight have been taken too far: "They are doing extraordinary things. For example, they are violating - they’re interfering with the president in exercising his rights under Article II: The president United States conducts the foreign policy of the United States," Giuliani said.

"They're calling foreign leaders. They are going to foreign capitals.... This is worse than McCarthy!"

Even someone as partisan as Ingraham had to note that members of Congress are protected by immunity for anything they say on the floor and dismissed his threat of a lawsuit by saying: "It's novel".

Asked later about how he proposed to go about suing "The Swamp" by Atlantic political correspondent Elaina Plott, the hapless Giuliani gave this peach of an answer:

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 11:05

First bedbugs at the Trump National Doral Miami, now an infestation of mice at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The president really should start tipping Pest Control.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 11:20

Adam White has more from Hillary and Chelsea Clinton's interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, where the studio audience delighted in putting a new spin on an old chant.

Joe Sommerlad2 October 2019 11:35

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