Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1559246989

Trump news: President rages over impeachment talk as Nancy Pelosi attacks immigration hypocrisy over Melania

President posts tweet claiming 'the case is closed' after Robert Mueller's surprise public statement

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 30 May 2019 21:02 BST
Trump speaks to press following Mueller resignation: "Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected - I got me elected"

Donald Trump is facing rejuvenated calls for his impeachment by House Democrats following FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's surprise statement on Wednesday in which he suggested only Justice Department policy prevented his team from charging a sitting president with a crime.

Mr Trump was quick to declare “The case is closed!” on Twitter but 2020 challengers Kamala Harris and Cory Booker called on Congress to hold the president to account while House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has so far attempted to resist “divisive” impeachment proceedings, said: “Nothing is off the table”.

Quickly moving on to a fresh controversy, Mr Trump has been forced to deny asking the US Navy to have its destroyer the USS John S McCain, named after the late senator and Trump antagonist, kept “out of sight” during his recent four-day trip to Japan.

The Pentagon’s acting chief, Patrick Shanahan, said he never authorised attempts to make sure Mr Trump would not see the USS John S. McCain at its homeport in Japan and would have his chief of staff investigate. Trump said he was not involved in the matter.

Mr Trump, who long feuded with Mr McCain, told reporters at the White House that he “was not a big fan” of the Arizona Republican and onetime presidential nominee “in any way, shape or form.” But, Mr Trump added, “I would never do a thing like that.”

“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say,” he said, while insisting he was kept in the dark.

The order that a Navy destroyer be kept out of sight reflected what appeared to be an extraordinary White House effort to avoid offending an unpredictable president known for holding a grudge, including a particularly bitter one against Mr McCain.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that a US Indo-Pacific Command official wrote an email to Navy and Air Force officials about Mr Trump’s Memorial Day weekend visit, including instructions for preparations for the USS Wasp, where he was to speak.

Mr Trump tweeted late Wednesday that he “was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Still, he added Thursday that he “was very, very angry with McCain because he killed health care. I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form.”

Additional reporting by AP. Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load


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

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 08:54

Donald Trump is facing rejuvenated calls for his impeachment by House Democrats following FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's surprise statement on Wednesday in which he suggested only Justice Department policy prevented his team from charging a sitting president with a crime and that if Trump "clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so".

Reacting immediately afterwards, Trump was quick to declare "The case is closed!" on Twitter...

...but 2020 challengers Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg called on Congress to hold the president to account while House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has so far attempted to resist “divisive” impeachment proceedings, said: “Nothing is off the table”.

Pelosi though was still preaching caution, noting that only around 15 percent of Democrats in the House were "outspoken" on the matter and arguing: "You don't bring an indictment, or you don't bring an impeachment unless you have all of the facts."

But several new voices came forward to argue for impeachment yesterday, apparently persuaded by what they heard from Mueller's eight-minute speech - in which he announced his resignation and the closure of his office - including representatives Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler echoed Pelosi's line and had this statement to add:

You can read Bob Mueller's full statement on the conclusion of his 22-month Russian election hacking investigation below.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 09:19

The president, of course, could not leave it there.

His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said: "After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same."

Trump loyalists like Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, were also more than keen to draw a line under the affair.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 09:35

As is the way with the "new normal" ushered in under President Trump, an entirely fresh scandal is already underway.

Trump has been forced to hotly deny a Wall Street Journal story that he demanded the US Navy move its destroyer the USS John S McCain - named after the late senator with whom Trump regularly sparred, even after his opponent had been laid to rest - and ensure it was kept "out of sight" in Yokosuka during his recent trip to Japan.

The WSJ reported a tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of his visit and sailors - who would ordinarily wear caps bearing the vessel’s name - were given the day off.

McCain - hero of the Vietnam War, long-serving Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate, who passed away from brain cancer in August 2018 - was cruelly mocked by Trump in 2016 ("I like people who weren't captured").

More recently, Trump revived his criticism of McCain in deeply undignified fashion, forcing the dead man's grieving daughter Meghan to come to his defence. She has now had to do so again.

Here's Jon Sharman's report on the latest installment of this embarrassing saga.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 09:50

In a not unrelated matter, the US Navy is having to conduct a review examining whether Donald Trump-themed patches worn by sailors on their uniforms during the president's visit to the USS Wasp in Tokyo Bay broke its rules.

"Navy leadership is aware of the incident and reviewing to ensure the patch doesn't violate DoD [Department of Defence] policy or uniform regulations," according to US Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Sam Boyle.

The badges worn by several service members featured an image of Trump posing like Lord Kitchener with the adapted MAGA slogan "Make Airmen Great Again".

DoD guidelines say that "active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause."

Trump praised these "daring and mighty warriors in the Pacific" in his Memorial Day address.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 10:05

Another influential Democratic figure to add their voice to the impeachment debate is Joe Biden, Trump's most likely challenger in next year's race for the White House, who made his most definite declaration on the matter when he said it "may be unavoidable".

"Vice President Biden agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process, but that it may be unavoidable if this Administration continues on its path," his statement reads.

"For all these reasons and many more, Vice President Biden will continue to make the case as to why President Trump should not be re-elected.”

Trump angered many Americans during his Japan jaunt by endorsing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's assessment of Biden as a "low IQ individual", a highly unpatriotic and disloyal stance to be taking on Memorial Day.

Here are his remarks in full.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 10:20

"Beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress," Mueller said yesterday.

One man not happy with that stance is Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro, who plays Mueller on Saturday Night Live, who has written an open letter to The New York Times calling on the special counsel to reconsider and give more detail about his investigation and prevent the administration being allowed to "control the narrative".

The star of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Casino and, er, Dirty Grandpa takes particular issue with Mueller's contention that his 448-page report "speaks for itself".

"It may speak for itself to lawyers and lawmakers who have the patience and obligation to read through the more than 400 pages of carefully chosen words and nuanced conclusions (with all due respect, as good a read as it is, you’re no Stephen King)," De Niro wrote.

"But the country needs to hear your voice. Your actual voice. And not just because you don’t want them to think that your actual voice sounds like Robert De Niro reading from cue cards, but because this is the report your country asked you to do, and now you must give it authority and clarity without, if I may use the term, obstruction."

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 10:35

For more on Mueller, here's Chris Stevenson on the veteran lawman opening the door for Congress to impeach by laying out the limitations of his office.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 10:50

And here's Ahmed Baba on what the retiring special counsel's words mean for Trump.

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 11:05

Yesterday we were treated to a smorgasbord of tasty tidbits from Siege: Trump under Fire, author Michael Wolff’s follow-up to his hit book Fire and Fury.

We learned that Mueller drew up a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against the president but decided against publishing it, that former strategist Steve Bannon considers the Trump Organization "a criminal enterprise" and that Trump sighed "the Jews always flip" when he learned of witness plea deals being agreed by ex-lawyer Michael Cohen and company CFO Allen Weissenberg.

Here is, as Trump himself would say, another beauty, spotted by Vanity Fair's Joe Pompeo, picking through an advanced copy ahead of Siege's publication next week.

"I can’t get the asshole off the phone," media mogul Rupert Murdoch once said of Trump, according to Wolff, “holding out the phone as the president’s voice rambled into the air.”

Haha! The author also recounts in-fighting between Rupert and his son James over the future of the company as a result of its unwavering support of Trump, who isn't as enamoured of its star anchor, Sean Hannity, as we've been led to believe... 

"For all of Hannity’s flattery, for all of his zealous commitment to the president, Trump, in almost equal proportion, had become disdainful of him. This was partly standard practice. Sooner or later, Trump felt contempt for anyone who showed him too much devotion," Wolff writes.

The reporting of that passage might explain Trump's glowing tweet in favour of Hannity last night:

Although, quite honestly, he could have tweeted that on any evening over the past three years.

Also of note in Siege is first son-in-law Jared Kushner's response to the murder of dissident Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October: "This guy was the link between certain factions in the royal family and Osama [bin Laden]. We know that. A journalist? Come on. This was a terrorist masquerading as a journalist."

Wolff also addresses one of the most controversial insinuation's in Fire and Fury: that Trump had an affair with his former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. "What was true here is that this was what he had said; it was a species of his famous locker-room talk. What was far from certain was that what he had said was true, and few around him gave it much credence."

In the interest of fairness, here's White House spokesman Hogan Gidley's response to the imminent publication of Siege: “Michael Wolff’s first book was destroyed for its countless inaccuracies, made up accounts, and use of shady sources with personal political agendas that even the author himself admitted to. This latest book is just another attempt by Wolff to line his own pockets by pushing lies and pure fantasy aimed at attacking the president."

Joe Sommerlad30 May 2019 11:20

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in