Republicans are “setting a dangerous precedent that threatens the republic itself” in supporting Donald Trump against efforts to impeach him, the former director of the US Office of Government Ethics has warned.
Walter Shaub claims all future presidents will “be able to point to Trump to justify soliciting foreign attacks on elections” and a raft of other accusations levelled at the current commander-in-chief.
Meanwhile, a confidential White House review has revealed the extensive and potentially embarrassing efforts taken to create after-the-fact justification for Mr Trump’s military aid decisions in Ukraine, and thus prevent the ongoing impeachment scandal.
In less impeach-y news, Mr Trump hosted Conan the dog at the White House, where he presented the military canine with a medal and a plaque for his part in the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, last month.
During that Syria raid, Conan was reportedly injured. But he looked quite healthy on Monday.
Mr Trump otherwise kept a low profile on Monday, amid reports that he is increasingly working in the White House residence instead of the Oval Office, apparently because of developing trust issue stemming from the impeachment probe.
Hello, and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of today's events in Washington.
Ousted Navy chief hits out at Trump in resignation letter in 'war crimes' veteran row
The ousted chief of the US Navy has attacked Donald Trump in his resignation letter, telling the president they do not hold compatible views on “good order and discipline” in the military, Jon Sharman reports.
“The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries,” Richard Spencer, the secretary of the navy, told the president as he was fired by Mark Esper, the defence secretary, on Sunday.
Mr Spencer had allegedly proposed a backroom deal with the White House designed to resolve a public spat over disgraced Navy Seal Edward Gallagher – without telling Mr Esper.
Mr Gallagher was accused of war crimes after allegedly shooting civilians, killing a teenage Isis captive and threatening to kill any colleagues who reported him, but was acquitted at a court martial.
Mr Trump has vehemently defended Mr Gallagher, and on Sunday announced on Twitter he would "retire peacefully with all of the honours that he has earned, including his Trident Pin - initially thought to be the main point in Spencer and Trump's backroom deal, for which the former was fired.
Read more from Jon Sharman here:
Former government ethics boss says Trump sets 'dangerous precedent'
Walter Shaud has warned Republicans that they are playing with fire in their defence of the president.
While the list of sins Mr Shaud accuses the president of requires the entire alphabet to list, and then some, he concludes by saying: "This is only what Trump did while the remote threat of Congressional oversight existed."
Among his accusations are:
- Hosting foreign leaders at his private businesses - Attacking states and private citizens frequently and in terms that demean the presidency - Using the presidency to tout his private businesses and effectively encouraging a party, candidates, businesses and others to patronise his business - Engaging in a documented campaign of obstruction of a Special Counsel's investigation. - Relentlessly attacking the free press - Violating human rights and international law at our border - Firing the heads of the government's top law enforcement agencies for allowing investigations of the president - Retaliating against whistleblowers and witnesses who testify before Congress
"If the Senate acquits him, he will know for certain there is nothing that could ever lead to Congress removing him from office. And what he does next will similarly set precedents," Mr Shaub warned.
Trump is ‘the chosen one, sent by God to do great things,’ says energy secretary Rick Perry .
In the preview of an interview shown on Fox News on Sunday night, the adviser, who has drawn scrutiny for his role in the Ukraine scandal, also compared the US president to a number of biblical kings, Samuel Lovett reports.
“God’s used imperfect people all through history,” Mr Perry told the broadcaster. “King David wasn’t perfect, Saul wasn’t perfect, Solomon wasn’t perfect.”
White House review reveals extensive efforts to prevent impeachment scandal
A confidential White House review has revealed the extensive and potentially embarrassing efforts taken to create after-the-fact justification for Trump's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, and thus prevent the ongoing impeachment scandal, according to The Washington Post.
Among the hundreds of documents found were email exchanges between Mr Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for the withholding of nearly $400m (£310m) in security assistance.
White House lawyers are reportedly expressing concern that the review turned up some unflattering and potentially embarrassing exchanges.
The research was conducted by the White House Counsel's Office, three people familiar with the records said.
But an Office of Budget and Management spokesperson denied the review was out of the ordinary, telling The Washington Post: "There was a legal consensus at every step of the way that the money could be withheld to conduct the policy review.
"OMB works closely with agencies on executing the budget. Routine practices and procedures were followed, not scrambling."
Republican Party chair claims 'sham' impeachment case is 'dead'
Ronna McDaniel has fired off an early-morning tweet claiming Democrats' "sham" impeachment case is "dead".
Ms McDaniel may well wish that to be the case, for reasons just as personal as political.
But unfortunately not all Republicans appear to agree with her - least of all Mitt Romney, who happens to be her uncle.
While the president has previously denounced Mr Romney as a "pompous ass", the latter has labelled Mr Trump's behaviour with regards to Ukraine "appalling".
The Atlantic has speculated that if Mr Romney calls for the president's removal, Ms McDaniel could have no choice but to enforce Mr Trump's reprisals.
...And the president has risen.
Mr Trump has written his first tweet of the day, with a very on-brand complaint about the ongoing proceedings.
If you're wondering who Sam Dewey is, you're not alone.
A quick search reveals he's a Washington lawyer, who, according to CNN, has served as both House and Senate counsel on Republican-led investigations.
What happens next in the impeachment inquiry?
After two weeks of public hearings, Democrats could soon turn the impeachment process over to the House Judiciary Committee.
They're moving "expeditiously" ahead as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has instructed, and will hope to get a vote passed in the House by Christmas.
This would allow Democrats to send articles to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial in 2020.
But unless political dynamics change, Mr Trump is expected to have the backing of majority Republicans in that chamber, leaving an acquittal looking likely as things stand.
In the coming weeks, the House intelligence panel will submit a report to the Judiciary panel, with Democrats on the committee believing they have enough evidence to move forward. However, they may still hear some last-minute testimony.
Several potentially key witnesses — former national security adviser John Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among others — have declined to provide testimony or documents on Trump's orders.
Democrats have said they don't want to get tied up in lengthy court battles to force those witnesses to cooperate with subpoenas. But they could still hear testimony if one of them changed their mind, or if other key witnesses emerged.
Lev Parnas wants to testify against key Trump ally
Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas, the Ukranian businessman apprehended on a plane out of Washington days after the whistleblower's account emerged, is reportedly keen to make further trouble for Mr Trump.
He is reportedly keen to testify against Devin Nunes, alleging that aides to the president's ally cancelled a trip to Ukraine earlier this year once they realised it would mean notifying Adam Schiff, who is currently leading the impeachment investigation.
The trip was arranged to interview to Ukrainian prosecutors claiming to have evidence that could help re-elect Mr Trump in 2020, Mr Parnas' lawyer has said.
Mr Parnas is also accusing Mr Nunes of travelling to Vienna to personally interview a potential source with politically damaging information about Joe Biden, which could well land Mr Nunes in front of an ethics inquiry.
Read more here:
Trump claims public support for impeachment 'dropping like a rock'
But it's not clear where the president's getting that information. Even Breitbart, using it as evidence Democrats are "impeaching themselves", are citing a New York poll showing support for the investigation at 37 per cent.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies