As it happenedended1562884601

Trump news: President folds over citizenship census question after hosting right-wing extremists and conservative influencers

President backs off Census demands and hosts right-wing extremists at social media summit

Donald Trump says 'the kidney has a very special place in the heart'

Donald Trump hosted a White House Social Media Summit on Thursday, where the controversial guest list included alt-right meme creators and a QAnon conspiracy theorist but no representatives from either Facebook or Twitter , after lavishing praise on himself as “great looking and smart”.

In the run-up to the event, the president retweeted a post by far-right columnist Katie Hopkins in praise of “Right Minded” world leaders like probable future British PM Boris Johnson, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Mr Trump has meanwhile found himself the victim of online ridicule after saying that the kidney “has a very special place in the heart” after signing an executive order directing his administration to develop policies addressing kidney-related health issues among Americans.

The president capped his day off by backing down from his 2020 Census demands, instead pursuing other avenues for collecting citizenship information after the Supreme Court blocked his census efforts.

The American Community Survey, which polls 3.5 million US households every year, already includes questions about respondents’ citizenship, so it is unclear what Mr Trump has in mind.

But Mr Trump appeared to preview his remarks at a White House social media summit, where he complained about being told: ”‘Sir, you can’t ask that question ... because the courts said you can’t.’”

Describing the situation as “the craziest thing,” he went on to contend that surveyors can ask residents how many toilets they have and, “What’s their roof made of? The only thing we can’t ask is, ‘Are you a citizen of the United States?’”

“I think we have a solution that will be very good for a lot of people,” he added.

Mr Trump had said last week that he was “very seriously” considering an executive order to try to force the citizenship question’s inclusion, despite the fact that the government has already begun the lengthy and expensive process of printing the census questionnaire without it.

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

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 10:05
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Donald Trump will host his White House Social Media Summit on Thursday, where the controversial guest list includes alt-right meme creators and a QAnon conspiracy theorist.

@CarpeDonktum is one of those visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the man who made this clip of Joe Biden molesting himself during his own apology video, a spoof Trump liked so much when it was shown to him by his son Don Jr he pinned it to the top of his Twitter profile.

Political cartoonist Ben Garrison, whose work has been branded “blatantly antisemitic” by the Anti-Defamation League, was originally slated to attend until his invitation was rescinded late on Tuesday when it was questioned by reporters. His 2017 cartoon of Jewish billionaire George Soros as a manipulative puppet-master was found to have been commissioned by "Pizzagate" conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich

Conservative organisations expected to participate in the White House meeting include Turning Point USA, PragerU - which puts out short videos with a conservative perspective on politics or economics - and the right-wing Washington think tank Heritage Foundation.

Another attendee, James O’Keefe, runs an organisation called Project Veritas that attempts to damage figures and institutions it perceives to be anti-conservative, while alt-right agitators Ali Alexander and Bill Mitchell will also be there, according to NBC.

Facebook and Twitter have, meanwhile, not been invited to the "far-right troll convention", as it has been described by Vanity Fair, their neglect a calculated snub from a president who insists the Silicon Valley giants harbour a liberal bias and actively seek to silence conservative voices.

  

Here's Tom Embury-Dennis with more.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 10:20
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In the run-up to the event, the president retweeted a post by far-right columnist Katie Hopkins in praise of “Right Minded” world leaders like probable future British PM Boris Johnson, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 10:30
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The president has meanwhile found himself the victim of online ridicule after saying that the kidney “has a very special place in the heart” after signing an executive order directing his administration to develop policies addressing kidney-related health issues among Americans.

There were, of course, many, many jokes.

It's amazing to think that John F Kennedy is remembered for saying "Ich bin ein Berliner" (wrongly interpreted as "I am a doughnut") but President Trump makes several worse gaffes of this nature every week.

Here's more from Tom on another fine mess.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 10:45
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On to more serious matters.

The Trump administration is set to carry out its delayed threat to round up and deport thousands of migrants living in the US illegally this weekend, according to a report.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are due to target people in 10 or more major cities who have already been ordered to leave the country in a crackdown lasting several days, The New York Times reports.

Here's more from Jon Sharman.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 11:00
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Trump's labour secretary Alexander Acosta continues to face calls to resign after it emerged he agreed a plea deal on behalf of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein while serving as a US attorney for Florida's Southern District in 2008.

Acosta is understood to have negotiated a secret "non-prosecution" agreement with Epstein's legal team at the time, suspending a federal grand jury investigation into the accusations against him regarding the sex trafficking of underage girls and silencing 36 witnesses who would have spoken out in exchange for a guilty plea on two state prostitution charges. It was "the deal of a lifetime", according to The Miami Herald.

The president said on Tuesday he felt "very badly" for Acosta: "I do hear that there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him... The rest of it, we’ll have to look at. We’ll have to look at it very carefully. But you’re talking about a long time ago."

Yesterday Acosta gave a press conference seeking to downplay the matter...

...as protesters projected "Acosta Enables Sex Trafficking" on to the side of the Francis Perkins Department of Labor Building in DC.

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver has more on a man who also happens to be seeking to slash funding for the fight against child sex trafficking.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 11:20
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With the row over the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch as Britain's ambassador to the US ongoing, other diplomats in Washington are expressing disquiet, saying that they too have spoken frankly about the Trump administration in private: "It could have been any of us", said one.

Sir Kim resigned on Wednesday saying his position had become untenable after a memo in which he described the US government as "inept" and "dysfunctional" under Trump was leaked to The Mail on Sunday, possibly with a view to embarrassing foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt as he challenges Boris Johnson for the Conservative Party leadership.

Darroch was backed by outgoing prime minister Theresa May - provoking Twitter ire from Trump over her stewardship of Brexit - but Boris has so far been mysteriously unforthcoming on the affair.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 11:35
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Here's Trump promoting his Social Media Summit.

Of course he says he would have won the presidency anyway without the aid of online campaigning.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 11:45
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Trump’s grandiose “Salute to America” event on the Fourth of July cost US taxpayers a total of $5.35m (£4.75m), officials have revealed.

The Department of Defence said it contributed $1.2m (£1m) for last week’s military parade in the capital, while the city of Washington, DC put in $1.7m (£1.4m) to cover the event’s logistics, which bankrupted its security fund, according to Democratic mayor Muriel Bowser, who wrote a letter to the White House on Tuesday to complain.

The Interior Department and National Park Service spent another $2.45m (£2m) on staffing costs, barricades and medical services, according to ABC News.

A day before the event was held, the president promised it would be low cost on Twitter.

Here's more from Adam Forrest.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 12:00
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More on the humanitarian crisis at the US border.

Grieving mother Yazmin Juarez, a migrant from Guatemala, appeared before the House Oversight and Reform committee on Wednesday to tell the harrowing story of the death of her 19-month-old daughter Mariee from a lung infection just weeks after their release from ICE custody in Texas.

Juarez broke down in tears during her testimony and was joined in her sorrow by Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Despite weeks of shocking details emerging about living conditions at Border Patrol detention centres, acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan continues to insist that US strategy is working.

Here's more from Jon Sharman.

Joe Sommerlad11 July 2019 12:15

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