As it happenedended1554143783

Trump rails against asylum seekers and Mexico as Congress prepares to subpoena Mueller report

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Fox News graphic claims that Trump is cutting funding to '3 Mexican countries'

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler is planning a vote on Wednesday on a motion to subpoena special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on ties between Donald Trump and Russia and demand testimony from at least four former top Trump aides.

The report is still under review by attorney-general William Barr but Mr Nadler has lost patience and hopes to issue him with a “hurry up” notice and call up Mr Trump’s ex-chief strategist Steve Bannon, former director of strategic communications Hope Hicks, ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn and former chief of staff Reince Priebus to appear before his committee.

President Trump has meanwhile repeated his threat to shutdown the US border with Mexico in protest at what he regards as America’s neighbour’s failure to tackle northbound illegal immigration and called on the Democrats to help fix asylum “loopholes”.

Mr Mueller's report was delivered to the Justice Department a week and a half ago, marking an end to a nearly two year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The attorney general's office then sent a letter to Congress just two days later, detailing in broad strokes the findings of the investigation. Mr Barr wrote in that letter that the Mueller probe found no evidence of collusion or conspiracy between the Russian efforts and the Trump campaign. Mr Barr then noted that the Mueller probe did not make a judgement on whether Mr Trump had committed obstruction of justice — and the attorney general said that he had determined that charges were not warranted.

The information in the letter has been celebrated by Mr Trump, who has insisted repeatedly during the first two years of his campaign that he and his campaign had not colluded with the Russian meddling.

The Mueller report did, however, note that dozens of Russian individuals or groups were involved in an effort to sway the election for Mr Trump.

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

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 09:00
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The Trump administration doubled down on its threat to shut the US's southern border with Mexico on Sunday, a day after the State Department cut aid to three Central American countries that President Trump accused of deliberately sending migrants to the States.

Trump himself tweeted the following last night:

This followed a series of tweets on the subject on Friday...

...And on Saturday.

Faced with a surge of asylum seekers from Central American countries who travel through Mexico, Trump said on Friday there was a "good likelihood" he would close the border this coming week if Mexico does not stop unauthorised immigrants from reaching the US.

Without providing evidence, he also accused the nations of having "set up" migrant caravans and sending them north. The president last raised the issue of refugee convoys ahead of November's midterms, when he spread unsubstantiated claims to demonise a group crossing Mexico from Honduras to ensure border security led the national political agenda as voters headed for the ballot box. 

Speaking to ABC's This Week show, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the president had few other options in the absence of any support from Democrats for more border security or legislative action to change the immigration law.

"Faced with those limitations, the president will do everything he can. If closing the ports of entry means that, that's exactly what he intends to do," Mulvaney said. "We need border security and we're going to do the best we can with what we have."

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Sunday that the situation at the border was at "melting point" and said the president was serious in his threat. "It certainly is not a bluff. You can take the president seriously."

Neither Trump aide offered any specific details or timeline for the potential border shutdown, however.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 09:13
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Here's Mulvaney on ABC's This Week and CNN's State of the Union yesterday.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 09:16
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At a rally on the border in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke denounced Trump's immigration policies as the politics of "fear and division."

Trump has repeatedly said during his two years in office that he would close the US border with Mexico. His latest threat had workers and students who frequently cross the border worried about the potential disruption to their lives.

Closing the border could disrupt millions of legal crossings and billions of dollars in trade.

Mexico is the largest importer of US exports of refined fuels like diesel and gasoline, some of which moves by rail. It is unclear if rail terminals would be affected by closures.

"It would have a widespread and dramatic impact on our markets almost immediately," said an executive at a company that ships products by rail to Mexico, citing its dependence on US natural gas, propane, gasoline and ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 09:30
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On Saturday, the State Department cut US aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras - a move Democrats warned would only worsen the situation.

"What we need to do is focus on what's happening in Central America, where three countries are disassembling before our eyes and people are desperately coming to the United States. The president's cutting off aid to these countries will not solve that problem," Senate minority whip Dick Durbin told NBC's Meet the Press.

Durbin also cast doubt on the viability of shutting the border, describing the threat as "totally unrealistic."

Here's Greg Evans for Indy100 on Fox News's description of the above three nations as "three Mexican countries", the president's favourite channel apparently having little better grasp of regional geography than the man himself.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 09:45
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Pope Francis has added his voice to the criticism of Donald Trump's latest move.

"Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build," he said during a visit to Morocco.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 10:00
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The Arab League has also come together to condemn President Trump, this time over his decision to defy the international community and recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 10:15
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On the other side of the fence, former vice-president Joe Biden has been forced to deny allegations of inappropriate contact with a Democratic activist.

Biden, 76, is widely believed to be considering a 2020 presidential run, has been accused by Lucy Flores of approaching her from behind, putting his hands on her shoulders, smelling her hair and kissing her on the back of the head at a campaign rally in 2014.

She told MSBC's Kasie Hunt over the weekend the alleged act was "an invasion of my personal space" and “a clear invasion of my bodily autonomy.”

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 10:30
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Here's why the Trump administration and senior Republicans have made House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff its new hate figure since William Barr's assessment of the Mueller report was published eight days ago (remember, we're still waiting for the real thing).

The Trump camp is even selling crass T-shirts mocking "Little Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff" on its website to raise funds for 2020, yours for just $28 (£21).

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 10:45
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Trump's crackdown on immigration has led to his own former driver and security guard, Zoltan Tamas, locked up in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) correctional facility in Crawfordville, Florida, for the last six months.

The Romanian migrant, who worked at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter has been unable to see his wife and eight-year-old daughter, the latter suffering from congenital heart disease.

Applying for US citizenship in 2016, Tamas was found to have been convicted of car insurance fraud during his youth in Europe and is currently scheduled for deportation. His wife claims the crime was committed by a friend using Tamas's name and is fighting the case.

Letters of support from high-profile businesspeople and his former bosses have so far not helped Tamas win leniency.

Joe Sommerlad1 April 2019 11:00

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