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As it happenedended1556570705

Trump news: President demands personal apology after NYT publish 'antisemitic' cartoon as he attacks firefighters

Follow events from Washington - as they happened

Lily Puckett,Joe Sommerlad
Monday 29 April 2019 21:45 BST
Donald Trump could use executive privilege to stop former White House lawyer testifying to congress

Donald Trump has passed the 10,000 falsehoods mark since taking office, according to fact-checkers, his flights of rhetoric at recent rally appearances seeing him hit an astonishing average of 23 untruths per day.

The president complained to Fox News on Sunday the US-Mexico border is now “like Disneyland” since his administration stopped separating migrant families, a remark that followed another wild address to supporters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Saturday night, where he derided sanctuary cities, spread an extraordinary lie about abortion and imitated the accent of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The White House is meanwhile continuing to push back against congressional investigations into Mr Trump, with counsel Kellyanne Conway warning he could use his executive privilege to avoid co-operating with subpoenas and attorney-general William Barr threatening to back out of appearances before the House and Senate judiciary committees.

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

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 09:09

President Trump spent his weekend playing golf with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe before jetting out to address a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin (more on which shortly), only to then return to the links in Virginia.

The tone of the tweet below finds the president protesting too much that the pair were working - no, really! - talking matters of international import rather than sunning themselves in the fresh air.

He did take time away from his putter to call into Maria Bartiromo on Fox News's Sunday Morning Futures (broadcasting live from El Paso, Texas), complaining that the US-Mexico border was now "like Disneyland" for the asylum-seeking families of Central America since his administration stopped separating children from their parents at detention centres in the wake of an international outcry.

"We have the worst immigration laws ever", he griped. "Literally you have ten times more families coming up because they won't be separated from their children... It's a disaster."

Stressing the need for reforms, he said: "We're going for a much bigger package. We're making a plan and talking about immigration laws on a much larger scale... We need workers, we're doing a plan based on merit." 

Trump also took aim at the immigration court system, which faces a severe backlog of cases.

"What we need is new laws... We have a court system that has 900,000 cases behind it. In other words, they have a court that needs to hear 900,000 cases," Trump said. "It's just a situation Congress can fix... and they don't get off their ass."

The president believes tackling illegal immigration to be a crucial election issue in 2020 and forced out homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other ranking officials earlier this month as a prelude to the introduction of harsher measures.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 09:25

Trump had been in rare form in Wisconsin on Saturday night, addressing loyalists in Green Bay rather than be teased at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington.

While he can't take mockery himself, he can certainly give it out. He referred to his potential 2020 opponents by his favourite nicknames "Sleepy Joe" [Biden], "Crazy Bernie" [Sanders] and "Pocahontas" [Elizabeth Warren], to the delight of the crowd.

But that was nothing.

The president told his supporters the idea of dumping migrants on liberal-minded sanctuary cities was "my sick idea", called the FBI and Justice Department "scum", parodied the accent of King Salman of Saudi Arabia and warned that Democrats want to "take your guns away", a matter of hours after a shooter attacked a synagogue in Poway, California.

He also branded Jussie Smollett "a disgrace to our nation" and defended his withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate change accords. Oh - and suggested newborn babies were being legally executed in American clinics.

“The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby,” Trump said to a chorus of boos.

Here's Colin Drury's account of another wild evening.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 09:40

This of course came in the wake of President Trump's equally inflammatory appearance before the National Rifle Association's convention in Indianapolis on Friday, where he re-enacted the terror attack on the Batalcan in Paris of November 2015 (!), among other startling statements.

Here's Clark Mindock's report.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 09:55

Back in Washington, White House counsel Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday to warn the president could use his executive privilege to shield former adviser Don McGahn from taking part in further congressional investigations into his administration.

"Executive privilege is always an option, it's always on the table. But Don McGahn has already talked under oath for 30 hours. And this is just presidential harassment," Conway said.

McGahn was cited over 150 times in FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian election hacking and House Democrats are now keen for him to testify, particularly regarding Mueller's account that the president had ordered that he himself be fired, only for McGahn to refuse, therein potentially saving his boss from an obstruction of justice charge.

Here's Dave Maclean with more.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 10:10

In another instance of the White House resisting congressional oversight, Trump's attorney-general William Barr is threatening to pull out of scheduled appearance before the House and Senate judiciary committees later this week to testify regarding the Mueller report.

The Justice Department has told the House Judiciary Committee it has objections over the format of planned questioning, disapproving of plans to allow lawyers from both sides to question Barr in addition to committee members.

House committee chairman Jerry Nadler has threatened to use subpoena powers should the attorney-general refuse to attend.

Here's Adam Forrest's report.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 10:25

Having said the president took if easy over the weekend aside from his appearance in Wisconsin, he did make time to insult Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden on Twitter.

And, more interestingly, Fox News pundit Andrew Napolitano, a legal expert who last week ran a feature suggesting there was enough evidence in the Mueller report to make an obstruction of justice case against the president.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 10:40

Trump's criticism of a Fox presenter is a rare event indeed.

The president is notorious for his close to ties to the Rupert Murdoch-owned right-wing broadcaster - watching Fox and Friends every morning, taking nightly calls with the channel's big beasts Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs and regularly retweeting favourable coverage from the outlet or attacking its rivals.

There has also been a huge degree of cross-pollination between the White House and Fox in the last two years, with employees of one frequently going to work for the other. Former Fox executive Bill Shine, for instance, became a communications official in the Trump White House in 2018, resigning the position in March to be an adviser on Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is the latest to call out this decidedly toxic relationship, saying the White House has “free rein, almost” over what is broadcast on the cable television network.

Speaking at a campaign event in San Francisco, former Texas congressman O’Rourke, one of 20 candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, commented: “You have members of the organisation moving into the White House, you have a White House with free rein, almost, over what is broadcast over one of the most widely watched cable networks in the country today."

On Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, O’Rourke said he believed Trump had invited Russia to interfere, even if special counsel Robert Mueller concluded after a 22-month investigation that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Moscow.

“I don’t know if collusion is a term of art in the law, but he certainly invited their participation,” O’Rourke said.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 10:55

While Trump chose to miss the White House Correspondents' Dinner for the third consecutive year, 2019's black tie gathering of the Washington press corps was a more dour affair than usual, historian Ron Chernow a less explosive host than stand-up Michelle Wolf, who had infuriated the president with a coruscating roast in 2018.

Chernow, whose biography of Alexander Hamilton inspired the hit musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda, did take Trump to task for his frequent attacks on the press.

"When you chip away at the press, you chip away at our democracy," Chernow said.

More damning was White House Correspondents’ Association president Oliver Knox, who said the president's anti-media rhetoric was placing journalists in danger around the world.

Knox said his own 11-year-old son had asked him, in tears: "Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?”

“I’ve had to tell my family not to touch packages on our stoop,” he added.

“I’ve had death threats, including one this week. Too many of us have. It shouldn’t need to be said in a room full of people who understand the power of words, but ‘fake news’ and ‘enemies of the people’ are not pet names, punchlines, or presidential,” Knox said, a remark met with thunderous applause.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 11:10

President Trump's response to the horrific shooting at the Poway synagogue in California on Saturday - in which one person was killed and three injured - has been far more presidential than many of his recent public statements.

He tweeted the following on Saturday:

He also personally called Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whose life was saved by congregant Lori Gilbert-Kaye at the expense of her own when she shielded him from the gunman's bullets, to offer his commiserations.

"He was just so comforting," Goldstein said at a press conference on Sunday afternoon. "I’m really grateful to our president for taking the time and making that effort to share with us his comfort and consolation.”

“He shared with me condolences on behalf of the United States of America... We spoke about the moment of silence. And he spoke about his love of peace and Judaism and Israel."

While this is very commendable, the president's selective approach to these matters remains unsettling.

He has still said nothing about the burning of three black churches in Louisiana in late March and early April - a white suspect, the son of a sheriff's deputy, has been charged - and remains notorious for his failure to condemn deadly neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Joe Sommerlad29 April 2019 11:25

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