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As it happenedended1571434735

Trump news: Erdogan says Turkey will 'not forget president's disrespectful letter' as White House backtracks over Ukraine revelation

Catch-up on events as they happened

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Friday 18 October 2019 18:37 BST
Turkish president Erdogan responds to Trump's extraordinary letter

Donald Trump is said to be “not happy” after his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, appeared to confirm the US had withheld military aid to Ukraine for political purposes, acknowledging the quid pro quo Democrats pursuing the president’s impeachment have sought to prove.

The close of the week brought a new round of fresh controversies enveloping Mr Trump’s White House, from his acting chief of staff’s comments during a press briefing on Thursday, to the violence in Syria after his decision to withdraw troops from the region.

Mr Trump was quick to hail the ceasefire his vice president Mike Pence agreed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara over the Syria crisis. The president said on Twitter it was a “great day for civilisation” shortly after Turkey agreed to a 120-hour ceasefire that provided the country with many of its demands made prior to the deadly violence that shook northeastern Syria.

But his DC rivals denounced the measure as a “sham” as the fighting continued between the Turkish military and the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The ceasefire did not hold for long as reports indicated shelling had taken place on Friday shortly after Mr Pence announced the agreement.

At his latest rally in Dallas, Texas, the president compared the Turks and Kurds to brawling children while saying, “Sometimes you have to let them fight”.

He also branded House speaker Nancy Pelosi “nuts” after their recent spat at the White House.

As he spoke in Texas, he was being brutally ridiculed by his own former defence secretary Jim Mattis at a white tie dinner in New York.

“I earned my spurs on the battlefield ... Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor,” Mr Mattis joked.

Mr Trump avoided military service during the draft in the Vietnam War when he was provided with a letter from a doctor claiming he had bone spurs. The president has never revealed in which leg he claimed to have suffered the bones, or whether they somehow went away.

Mr Mattis also harped on mocking comments the president made about him saying he was “not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world’s most overrated.”

“I’m honored to be considered that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress,” he added. “So, I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals. Frankly that sounds pretty good to me.”

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Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 09:35

Donald Trump is said to be “not happy” after his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, appeared to confirm the US had withheld $391m (£303m) in military aid to Ukraine in July for political purposes, acknowledging the quid pro quo Democrats pursuing the president’s impeachment have sought to prove.

Responding to questions from reporters at the White House on Thursday, Mulvaney said of the president: "Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption that related to the DNC [Democratic National Committee] server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that's it and that's why we held up the money."

Asked whether that constituted a quid pro quo, Mulvaney answered: "We do that all the time with foreign policy... Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

"He was not happy," a source told CNN of Trump's reaction.

Also concerned was Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who broke ranks to criticise Mulvaney.

Here's Phil Thomas's report on a disastrous press briefing for the White House.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 09:45

Trump was quick to hail the five-day ceasefire his vice president Mike Pence agreed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara over the Syria crisis yesterday, lavishing praise on "tough man" Erdogan and taking credit for his own "unconventional" approach, without acknowledging his role in greenlighting Turkey's attack on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last week by withdrawing American troops from the region.

But back in DC, his rivals denounced the measure as a “sham” as the fighting continued between the Turkish military and the SDF, with shelling and smoke seen in the town of Ras al-Ayn on Friday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Here's Clark Mindock and Borzou Daragahi on the deal.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 10:00

As he spoke to reporters in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Trump said the Turks had a right to "clean out" its border, prompting Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to accuse him of using "the language of ethnic cleansing" in batting aside responsibility for the fate of the SDF, formerly America's allies in the fight against Isis.

Jon Sharman has more.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 10:15

Trump was in Dallas to stage his latest "Keep America Great" rally at the city's American Airlines Center, at which he compared the Turks and Kurds to brawling children: “Sometimes you have to let them fight”.

He also spent the evening attempting to turn impeachment rancor into a political rallying cry, bashing Democrats as "crazy" and unpatriotic as they push forward with their investigations.

Setting a dire tone, Trump told his supporters, "At stake in this fight is the survival of American democracy itself."

"Don't kid yourselves," he said of the Democrats, "I really don't believe anymore that they love our country."

A day after House speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats walked out of a White House meeting that had devolved into an insult-fest, Trump denounced her as "crazy Nancy." "She's nuts," he told the crowd.

The comments come as the House continues its quickly unfolding inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine, deposing witness after witness as they build their case. But Trump and his campaign have tried to turn the inquiry his way, accusing Democrats of using the Constitutional process to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

"They're coming after and fighting you and we never lose," he said, predicting the 2020 election will be "a landslide" for Republicans, despite polling showing him lagging behind.

Trump also continued his attacks on former vice president Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter's work for Burisma, a Ukraine energy company. Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family are at the heart of the Democrats' inquiry into whether Trump compromised national security and used his office to try to bolster his 2020 chances by pushing foreign governments to investigate one of his Democratic rivals.

Perhaps most vicious of all was his attack on Texan 2020 challenger Beto O'Rourke, who staged a "Rally Against Fear" nearby last night.

"Last week a very dumb Democrat candidate for president pledged to revoke the tax-exempt status of many churches and religious charities," Trump said.

"That was after, a few weeks ago, he said, 'Excuse me we’re going to take your guns away,'" he continued before parodying O'Rourke's arm gestures. "And I called him right. Remember the flailing arms? Nobody noticed it. I noticed it. The flailer."

"Beto, in a few short weeks, got rid of guns then got rid of religion," Trump added. "Those are not two good things in Texas to get rid of."

Trump's day also included a tour of a new Louis Vuitton leather workshop in north central Texas and a fundraiser in Fort Worth that, combined with a pre-rally reception in Dallas, brought in $5.5m (£4.3m), according to the Republican National Committee.

As he campaigns for a second term, Trump's team has tried to focus attention on economic gains over the last three years, including the low unemployment rate. Pressing that message, Trump cut the ribbon at a new production facility for the luxury brand Louis Vuitton in Alvarado with his elder daughter, Ivanka

Trump joked that the company, which is known for its logoed handbags and luggage, has cost him "a lot of money over the years." His wife, first lady Melania Trump, has repeatedly been spotted traveling with the brand.

Here's Jon Sharman's report.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 10:30

This was the scene inside the arena. Spare a thought for the poor kid at the bottom.

(Tom Pennington/Getty)

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

(Andrew Harnik/AP)

(Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

(Andrew Harnik/AP)

(Andrew Harnik/AP)

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 10:45

Trump and O'Rourke weren't the only ones making speeches last night.

The president's ex-secretary of defence "Mad Dog" Jim Mattis - who resigned last Christmas over an earlier Trump threat to the pull American forces out of Syria - attended the white tie Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City and brutally roasted his former employer, not least over his multiple draft deferrals from the Vietnam War.

It was fabulous stuff and unexpected given the Marine general's previous reticence about slamming Trump. He told The Atlantic in late August: “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

Corazon Miller reports.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 11:00

Trump's energy secretary Rick Perry - one of George Kent's "Three Amigos" who led the US delegation to Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration as Ukrainian president back in May - has announced his long-trailed resignation.

Asked about it in Texas, Trump had this to say:

Here's Chris Riotta with more.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 11:15

During Mulvaney's press briefing yesterday, he also dropped the bombshell that the next G7 summit will be held at the Trump National Doral golf resport in Miami, Florida, after all, a decision that again sees the administration riding roughshod over conflict of interests concerns and persistent accusation Trump is ruthlessly profiteering from his presidency.

I hope Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel don't mind bed bugs.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 11:30

House investigators were today scheduled to talk to Laura Cooper, deputy assistant defence secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, but her closed-door deposition has now been postponed.

This latest impeachment deadline hitting today is for the aforementioned Mulvaney and Perry to turn over their documents on Ukraine. They are not expected to defy the White House and comply. 

Yesterday, Trump's ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told members of the three committees probing the president's actions on Ukraine that he and other senior diplomats had been ordered to go through Rudy Giuliani on all matters of policy relating to Kiev.

The hotelier and political donor said in his prepared remarks - which you can read in full below - that he he did not understand "until much later" that Giuliani was pushing for the country to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories involving the Bidens.

Joe Sommerlad18 October 2019 11:45

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