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As it happenedended1551825917

Trump news : White House denies Kushner security clearance files as Democrats threaten 'next steps'

The Independent's live coverage of politics in Washington, as it happened

Clark Mindock
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 05 March 2019 16:37 GMT
Trump: 'We have people in Congress right now that hate our country'

Donald Trump has lashed out at “stone cold CRAZY” Democrats in the House of Representatives, whom he accuses of “obstructing justice” and instigating “a big, fat, fishing expedition” to discredit him because the opposition is “desperately in search of a crime”.

The outburst comes after House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a new abuse of powers investigation into President Trump on Tuesday, requesting information from 81 members of his inner circle, including sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Trump Organisation CFO Allen Weisselberg and executive VP Matthew Calamari.

With six such enquiries currently underway into the Trump administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised voters, “We’ll fight him in the Congress, we’ll fight him in the courts and we’ll fight him in the court of public opinion... What he’s doing is wrong and the Republicans know it.”

Her party’s national emergency disapproval resolution meanwhile looks set to pass the Senate, a vote that would force Mr Trump's first veto of his presidency.

The veto would be unlikely to be sustained in Congress, however, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying on Tuesday he believes the initial effort will be approved in his chamber but nothing more.

As the day progressed on Tuesday, Democrats showed signs that they will push forward with other priorities as well. Ms Pelosi, on a visit to Austin, Texas, indicated that the House is going to pass a voting rights bill that would significantly expand access ot the ballot in the US.

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And, controversy continued to swirl on Tuesday around Mr Kushner's White House security clearance, with Democrats vowing to take "next steps" in order to obtain documents related to that decision, and Mr Trump calling investigations into his administration a "shame".

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

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 08:50

Yesterday House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a broad and aggressive new investigation into whether the president has abused the power of the Oval Office, issuing information requests to 81 members of Donald Trump's inner circle.

Among those on the list were sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, political consultant Roger Stone (currently on trial for lying to Congress about his relationship with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election race), Trump Organisation chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and executive vice-president Matthew Calamari, the president's long-serving personal assistant Rhona Graff and ex-White House counsel Don McGahn.

Other blasts from the past contacted include Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Hope Hicks.

They all have until 18 March to respond.

"Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms," said the New York congressman.

 "Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee. 

“Congress must provide a check on abuses of power. Equally, we must protect and respect the work of Special Counsel, but we cannot rely on others to do the investigative work for us.”

Trailing his investigation on ABC's This Week on Sunday, Mr Nadler told George Stephanopoulos: "We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption and into obstruction of justice... We will do everything we can to get that evidence." 

"It's very clear that the president obstructed justice."

Separate congressional probes are already swirling around the president, including an effort announced on Monday by three other House Democratic chairmen to obtain information about private conversations between him and Russian president Vladimir Putin. 

The State Department pledged to "work cooperatively with the committees". 

The new probes signal that now the Democrats hold a majority in the House, Mr Trump's legal and political peril is nowhere near over, even as special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation winds down. 

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 09:06

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an angry response to the news on behalf of the president.

"Today, Chairman Nadler opened up a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the special counsel and committees in both chambers of Congress.

"Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of 'Russia collusion' is crumbling.

"Their intimidation and abuse of American citizens is shameful. Democrats are harassing the president to distract from their radical agenda of making America a socialist country, killing babies after they're born, and pushing a 'green new deal' that would destroy jobs and bankrupt America.

"The American people deserve a Congress that works with the president to address serious issues like immigration, healthcare, and infrastructure."

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 09:20

President Trump - who was the subject of a damning report by The New Yorker's Jane Mayer yesterday into the unhealthy relationship between his administration and right-wing broadcaster Fox News - responded exactly as you might expect, by retweeting sympathetic coverage from... Fox News!

He also told reporters yesterday after Mr Nadler's probe was first announced that "I cooperate all the time with everybody", adding: "You know, the beautiful thing? No collusion. It's all a hoax."

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 09:30

Another Trump sympathiser, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, also appeared on This Week on Sunday to accuse Jerrold Nadler of prejudging the president.

"I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election," Mr McCarthy said.

"Listen to exactly what he said. He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman and then he says, 'you've got to persuade people to get there.' There's nothing that the president did wrong.

"Show me where the president did anything to be impeached... Nadler is setting the framework now that the Democrats are not to believe the [FBI's Robert] Mueller report. They’re now saying we have to do our own investigation. After you had hundreds of interviews, millions of dollars spent in the Senate and the House, they find no collusion," he said.

Those thoughts were echoed by the most senior Republican on Mr Nadler's committee, Georgia's Doug Collins, who said his chairman was "recklessly prejudging the president for obstruction" and pursuing evidence to back up his conclusion.

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 09:40

But rather than pursuing dramatic impeachment proceedings, which could inspire a groundswell of sympathy for Mr Trump as embattled underdog, others are suggesting the House Democrats prefer to place him on trial before the public, picking apart his finances and behaviour in office through a series of committee investigations, six of which are already underway.

Axios journalist Mike Allen, for one, characterises this tactic as a "slow-bleed strategy", suggesting the Democrats, emboldened after winning back the House during last November's midterms, prefer the mechanisms of Congress as its means of exposing Mr Trump in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

"Democrats want to create a large, damning public record of testimony, documents and investigative reports," he suggests.

For his part, Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin - a member of Mr Nadler's panel - said, "impeachment is the end of the process, not the beginning", warning against allowing the proceeding to become a "fetish" or a "taboo".

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 09:50

Speaking of 2020, Hillary Clinton has said she will not run again against Donald Trump. 

“I'm not running but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” the 71-year-old told New York's News12 TV station.

“What’s at stake in our country, the kind of things that are happening right now are deeply troubling to me.”

Here's Zamira Rahim.

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 10:00

Here's Chris Riotta on someone who could well be President Trump's opponent in 2020: California senator Kamala Harris.

Hilariously, it turns out both The Donald and Ivanka Trump donated thousands of dollars to the Democrat during her tenure as the state's attorney-general and subsequent re-election campaign.

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 10:15

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the emphasis of investigations into President Trump should be on his financial affairs rather than his relationship with Russia, which adulators can easily dismiss as conspiracy theorising.

“While he’s talking collusion, collusion, collusion... we should be talking about taxes, taxes, taxes, and his bank account, his bank account, his bank account. His financial statements, statements, statements,” she said.

Here's Clark Mindock.

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 10:30

President Trump attacked Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments about the US-Israel relationship late last night, saying her words represent a “dark day” for the Middle Eastern country. 

The Minnesota representative had criticised the influence of Israeli interest groups in Washington, claiming she was being asked to pledge "allegiance" to a foreign power, remarks that drew her into a Twitter row with fellow Democrat Nita Lowey, among others.

Here's Tom Embury-Dennis with more on the controversy.

Joe Sommerlad5 March 2019 10:45

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