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As it happenedended1576080200

Trump news: Formal charges of impeachment revealed with president accused of ‘simple and terrible’ abuse of power

Nadler: 'Our next election is at risk... That is why we must act now'

Joe Sommerlad,Alex Woodward
Tuesday 10 December 2019 17:14 GMT
Trump impeachment charges unveiled as president accused of abuse of power and obstruction

House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on a historic day on Capitol Hill, accusing the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ahead of a full House vote on his misconduct later this week.

"He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security," said House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. "Our next election is at risk... That is why we must act now."

Mr Trump began the day pleading on Twitter that his impeachment would be "sheer Political Madness!"

His Attorney General William Barr, however, had accused the Obama Administration of being the "greatest danger to our free system" by using the "apparatus of the state ... both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election."

Those theories were debunked in the Justice Department's recently released watchdog report but they've been repeated by Republicans in defence of the president as he face impeachment.

But nearly as soon as Democrats announced impeachment articles, they supported the Trump administration's USMCA trade agreement, a revised Nafta plan that the White House called the "biggest and best trade agreement in the history of the world". The White House will "push hard" to enact the deal before the end of 2019, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already indicated the Senate won't be taking it up until the president's impeachment trial is through, which could be January.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House, where Mr Pompeo and Mr Lavrov clashed during a post-meeting press conference over the perception of reports of interference in US elections.

Mr Lavrov said that reports of interference are "baseless" and that "there are no facts that would support that" though he admitted he read the Mueller report, which he said is not "proof of collusion".

The president ends a historic day on Capitol Hill with his supporters in Pennsylvania, where he's holding an ego-boosting Keep America Great rally.

Follow along as it happened.


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

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 09:25

Democrats to accuse Trump of abuse of power, obstruction of Congress

House Democrats are expected to announce two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Tuesday, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ahead of a possible full House vote this week.

Democratic committee leaders met with House speaker Nancy Pelosi after the last scheduled impeachment hearing concluded on Monday evening, before three unidentified officials tipped the nod to The Washington Post. Pelosi's office announced later that the House Committee officials will hold a press conference at 9am EST (2pm GMT) on Tuesday morning to announce the next steps in the impeachment inquiry.

Trump (as if you'd forgotten) is accused of pressuring Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to initiate an embarrassing anti-corruption probe into his domestic political rival Joe Biden in exchange for the release of $391m (£302m) in congressionally-approved military aid and a White House meeting before obstructing Congress's efforts to investigate his actions.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel said Democratic lawmakers planned to make an announcement on articles of impeachment on Tuesday morning but would not elaborate as he left Pelosi's office.

Vincent Wood reports.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 09:35

President poses 'clear and present danger to national security'

The development follows the House Judiciary Committee’s final inquiry hearing, in which Democrats and Republicans poured over the evidence against the president in a lengthy and ill-tempered session and called upon their leading counsels to make their best case for and against Trump's impeachment.

While Democrats hoped to relay to the American people their argument that the president had misused his position of considerable power to force Ukraine to meddle in a US election - an argument they have bolstered with strong witness testimony - Republicans sought to defend Trump by casting the inquiry as a chaotic process revealing little but a political bias.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Barry Berke, Democratic counsel on the Judiciary Committee.

“President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security,” added his colleague Daniel Goldman.

Republicans repeatedly interrupted the hearings with calls for parliamentary inquiries, forcing repeated conflict between themselves and Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler. In doing so, the strategy hinged less on refuting the facts before the House and more about driving a narrative that Democrats were engaged in a politically motivated smear campaign.

The president, for his part, responded to the hearing on Twitter, where he called Democrats a “disgrace”, implored his supporters to “Read the Transcripts!”, and agreed with conservative talk show host Buck Sexton, who called Democrats “total psychos”.

“This unfair process reflects the degree to which Democrats are obsessed with impeaching President Trump by any means necessary,” said Stephen Castor, the counsel hired by Republicans.

Clark Mindock and Andrew Feinberg have a full report.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 09:50

Pro-Trump Infowars host who called for Obama to be lynched thrown out of inquiry

Yesterday's inquiry was never short of drama, with InfoWars presenter and conspiracy theorist Owen Shroyer - who recently called for Barack Obama to be lynched - kicked out after haranguing Chairman Nadler within moments of the session opening.

"Americans are sick of your impeachment scam! Trump is innocent!" said Shroyer, livestreaming the stunt for his fans on Periscope.

The assembled Republican members of the committee had a few tricks of their own up there sleeves, not least a milk carton sign proclaiming House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff "missing", a protest about the fact that neither the impeachment inquiry's chief investigator nor the anonymous CIA whistleblower had been called to give testimony. 

Even that wasn't the most ridiculous prop of the day though. Republican lawyer Castor arrived with a bag for life instead of a briefcase, prompting ridicule online from the grocery store benefitting from his free advertising.

Castor's performance, reminding some of Simpsons lawyer Lionel Hutz, wasn't much more intimidating.

Here's Clark Mindock on Shroyer.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 10:10

Republicans' false narratives on impeachment are easily debunked

For Indy Voices, Ahmed Baba assesses the weak opposition response to the overwhelming evidence for the impeachment of Donald Trump put forward by the Democrats, seeing a Republican Party struggling to convince the electorate that their president is not a crook.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 10:30

FBI was justified in investigating Trump-Russia, Justice Department inspector general concludes

The FBI's investigation into contacts between Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia was justified and not politically biased, a report by the Justice Department's watchdog has found. The findings refute Trump's repeated claims of a deep state "witch hunt" to undermine his presidency and his assertion that the FBI illegally spied on his campaign.

The 434-page report, by the department's inspector general Michael Horowitz, says the so-called Crossfire Hurricane investigation was justified in eavesdropping on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide who had made several visits to Russia.

The investigation began in July 2016 after the FBI learned that another ex-Trump campaign staffer, George Papadopoulos, had been claiming Russia had dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the form of stolen emails. Those emails, which had been hacked from Democratic email accounts by Russian intelligence agents, were released by Wikileaks in the weeks before the election in what US officials say was an attempt to harm Clinton and help Trump.

William Barr, the attorney general and a loyal ally of Trump, has started a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, headed by prosecutor John Durham. Barr himself rejected the inspector general's conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.

"The inspector general's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a US presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," he said.

Here's Phil Thomas with a full account.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 10:50

President falsely claims IG report reveals plot to 'overthrow government'

Trump, naturally, had a rather different take on Horowitz's conclusions, claiming the case was actually "far worse" than he had expected and that the report recounted nothing less than "an attempt to overthrow the government".

This spin is neither true to the inspector general's words nor accurate - he was not president at the time the investigation was commenced.

Interestingly, the increasingly rebellious Chris Wallace picked him up on the lie on Fox News last night.

Here's Clark Mindock's report.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 11:10

British spy not biased against Trump because he was 'friendly' with Ivanka

One of the most interesting nuggets contained in Michael Horowitz's report is the revelation that ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele - who compiled the notorious Steele Dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia - claims to be a personal friend of Ivanka Trump and says he is “favourably disposed” towards the Trump family.

Steele told investigators he had visited Ivanka at Trump Tower in New York and had gifted her a family tartan from Scotland.

Extraordinary, especially given that the dossier carrying his name contains once of the most notorious allegations against Ivanka's father: that he once paid to watch Russian prostitutes urinate on a hotel bed in Moscow that had once been slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 11:30

Putin, Zelensky hold inaugural meeting in Paris

Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky met in France yesterday for bilateral talks and their first meeting in person in the wake of the latter's May election victory. The name "Donald J Trump" surely cropped up in conversation as the nations of the Normandy quartet convened.

Oliver Carroll has this report.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 11:50

Trump taunts FBI having apparently completely misunderstood Justice Department watchdog's report

The president is up and trolling the FBI over Michael Horowitz's report exonerating it of wrongdoing in 2016 by quoting partisan Fox pundits, following up on his entirely bogus spin on its conclusions yesterday afternoon.

Also, "Fown the chain of command"? This is barely literate.

Look at him trying to have his cake and eat it here.

Joe Sommerlad10 December 2019 12:10

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