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Trump news: President sends furious letter to Pelosi about impeachment as former campaign aide sentenced to jail

Follow here for all the latest updates, as they happened

Clark Mindock
New York
,Andy Gregory,Alex Woodward
Tuesday 17 December 2019 22:28 GMT
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admits he 'forced out' Ukraine ambassador

The Republican Party “will not survive” Donald Trump’s impeachment trial if Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s “corrupt” conduct continues, a chief White House ethics lawyer under George W Bush has warned.

Richard Painter’s admonition comes on the likely eve of a historic impeachment vote in the House amid a brewing battle over the shape of a near-inevitable trial in the Senate, with minority leader Chuck Schumer weighing his options over how to best ensure the president is held to account.

Meanwhile, one of the president's former campaign managers was sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days in jail for charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, an associate of Paul Manafort, committed tax evasion and skirted federal lobbying laws by concealing millions of dollars they received in Ukraine. Gates pleaded guilty in 2018. Manafort is currently serving a seven and a half year sentence.

As the House prepares to vote on impeaching the president on obstruction charges, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted that he wanted ousted Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch “out of the way”, suggesting he fed the president “gossip” in order to turn him against her.

The House Rules Committee is debating the process for the vote in Congress, which is set for Wednesday.

But Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer are in a tug of war over how to proceed with the Senate's impeachment trial.

Mr McConnell rejected Mr Schumer's request for witnesses and accused Democrats of trying to "short circuit" the hearings.

Mr McConnell had previously boasted that he was in "total coordination" with the White House over impeachment strategy, raising criticisms against Republicans for their apparent hypocrisy while underlining the active obstruction charges against the president.


Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the day's events in Washington, where the House of Representatives is expected to vote on Donald Trump's impeachment within days.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 11:10

Giuliani admits he wanted ousted Ukraine envoy ‘out of the way’

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accused of ending the career of a US diplomat because her presence in Ukraine interfered with his private, allegedly inappropriate outreach, has admitted he wanted her “out of the way”, Andrew Buncombe reports.

During testimony before Congress last month, Marie Yovanovitch claimed the former New York city mayor was behind a “campaign of disinformation” that led to her being recalled early from Kiev, and said he had “kneecapped her”.

“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, not can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” she told the House Intelligence Committee.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 11:12

Former White House ethics lawyer warns GOP 'will not survive' a 'corrupt' impeachment trial

Richard Painter, an Independent who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under George W Bush from 2005 to 2007, has described Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's conduct as "corrupt and partisan beyond the pale" and threatening the existence of the Republican Party.

His choice words came in response to Democrat allegations that Republicans are preparing for a "rigged" trial in the Senate, with some abandoning any pretence that they have not already pre-judged the case against Mr Trump, rather than act as faithful jurors.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 11:26

Former Trump campaign staffer to be sentenced for Russia probe crimes

Donald Trump's former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates will be sentenced on Tuesday, 22 months after pleading guilty to charges brought by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Prosecutors have asked the judge for a lenient sentence that could include probation rather than prison time, citing his "extraordinary assistance" since Gates pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and special counsel's office and conspiracy against the United States.

Gates delivered testimony that helped convict Republican operatives Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

Gates appeared as a star witness for the prosecution in three trials.

He testified against his former business partner and mentor Manafort, who served as Trump's campaign chairman and was convicted of financial fraud in August 2018 and is now serving a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Gates also testified against Stone, Trump's longtime adviser who was convicted by a jury last month in Washington of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. His sentencing is set for February.

Lastly, Gates testified against Greg Craig, who served as White House counsel under Barack Obama and was acquitted in Washington in September of lying to authorities about work he performed for Ukraine.

At the hearing set for 10 am (1500 GMT), the judge could sentence Gates to up to nearly five years in prison.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 11:35

More than 700 scholars write letter calling for president’s removal

A group of more than 700 historians, legal scholars and others published an open letter on Monday urging the House of Representatives to impeach Donald Trump, denouncing his conduct as "a clear and present danger to the Constitution", The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez reports. 

The letter's release comes two days before the house is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment.

"Mr Trump's lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government," the scholars write in the letter.

Read more detail here: 

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 11:42

Parnas due in court as prosecutors seek to revoke his bail

Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas, who is aiding the congressional impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, is expected to appear in court today.

Federal prosecutors are attempting to have him jailed for allegedly concealing a $1m payment they said he received from Russia before his arrest.

Lev Parnas, who has been charged with violating campaign finance laws, has denied hiding the payment. The Ukraine-born US citizen has been living under house arrest in Florida since October.

Prosecutors say Mr Parnas and another Florida businessman, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, illegally funneled money to a pro-Trump election committee and other politicians. Prosecutors said the illegal donations included money given by a Russian businessman to various state and federal candidates as part of an effort to promote a marijuana business.

They claim Mr Parnas poses an "extreme" risk of fleeing the country, adding he had "considerable ties abroad and access to seemingly limitless sources of foreign funding."

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 12:27

Political fate of anti-impeachment defector lies in Trump's hands, analysts say

Jeff Van Drew's future in politics may well hinge on how forcefully he is backed by Donald Trump, whose impeachment the lawmaker is refusing to support.

The longtime Democrat told his staff two days ago that he will become a Republican, promting at least six of Van Drew's top aides to resign.

Now, the 66-year-old former state legislator, who's been a political powerhouse in his New Jersey district, must figure out how to survive in the 2020 election – a race in which local Democrats now despise him and Republicans don't want him elbowing them aside.

While there's been no word on whether Mr Trump will help him win the GOP nod in next June's primary or aid him during next November's general election, analysts say the president's backing will be crucial.

Mr Trump praised the former Democrat on Monday night, calling him "very popular in our great and very united Republican Party".

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 12:44

Giuliani doubles down in attacking former Ukraine envoy

Mr Trump's personal lawyer has claimed Marie Yovanovitch was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to "come to the US and explain Democratic corruption" in the country, hours after suggesting he fed the president "gossip" about her in order to turn him against her.

He also accused her of committing perjury during her testimony to the impeachment inquiry – for which she was widely lauded, even receiving a standing ovation in a nearby jazz bar in the days that followed.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 12:52

Senate leaders expected to meet to battle over shape of impeachment trial

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his counterpart Chuck Schumer are due to meet this week to discuss the details of a trial early next year, despite the House not yet having voted to impeach the president.

Mr Schumer on Monday sent an open letter to Mr McConnell, asserting that there should be at least four witnesses during the trial, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, his senior adviser Robert Blair, and Mr Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton.

There is growing support for Democrats to hold impeachment charges over the president and top Republicans "like a sword of Damocles" until they agree to a lengthy and considered trial, with the veteran Democrat expected to try to punish the GOP in the eyes of voters ahead of 2020, if the trial offered is not deemed satisfactory.

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 13:17

Conservatives launch super PAC to fight Trump's re-election and punish 'enablers'

A small group of Donald Trump's fiercest conservative critics, including the husband of the president's own chief adviser Kellyanne Conway, is launching a super PAC designed to fight his re-election and punish congressional Republicans deemed his "enablers."

Dubbed the Lincoln Project, represents a formal step forward for the so-called Never Trump movement, which has been limited largely to social media commentary and cable news attacks through the first three years of Trump's presidency.

Organisers hope to fundraise for a months-long advertising campaign in a handful of 2020 battleground states to persuade disaffected Republican voters to break from Trump's GOP.

The mission of "defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box" is outlined in a website that launched on Tuesday coinciding with a New York Times opinion piece, which states: "The president and his enablers have replaced conservatism with an empty faith led by a bogus prophet."

Andy Gregory17 December 2019 13:32

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