As it happenedended1562622658

Trump news: President launches attack on UK ambassador and Theresa May, as connections to Jeffrey Epstein stir controversy

Follow the latest updates from Washington, as it happened

Chris Riotta
New York
,Clark Mindock,Joe Sommerlad
Monday 08 July 2019 22:27
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Donald Trump: 'The ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that'

Donald Trump will reportedly not invite the US Women’s World Cup team to the White House – even after they beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win the tournament in France on Sunday – seemingly still bitter about his long-running feud with star winger Megan Rapinoe.

The president has meanwhile launched a surprise attack on Fox News, blasting his favourite media ally for its choice of weekend anchors and for “loading up with Democrats & even using Fake unsourced New York Times as ‘source’ of information” in a series of vicious late night tweets. “Fox News is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Elsewhere in Washington, outgoing Republican Justin Amash has called on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to change her strategy and push for Mr Trump’s impeachment, not ruling out challenging the president with a 2020 run of his own.

Throughout the day on Monday, the White House had been touting a major environmental speech from Mr Trump, and the president delivered on that promise by touting in a long speech in the East Room what he felt was proof of his administration's leadership on the issue.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, called the notion that Mr Trump's administration was leading on the environment or climate change a "fantasy", and pointed to his history of killing regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

And, in 2020 news, representative Eric Swalwell became the first to drop out of contention for the Democratic nomination, citing lackluster fundraising and low polls.

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

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 09:42
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Donald Trump has launched a surprise attack on Fox News, blasting his favourite media ally for its choice of weekend anchors and for “loading up with Democrats & even using Fake unsourced New York Times as ‘source’ of information” in a series of vicious late night tweets.

“Fox News is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!” the president wrote with no-little menace.

It was not immediately clear precisely what had provoked his ire but he is known to watch Fox avidly and is close friends with anchors like Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs, speaking to them regularly on matters of policy.

At the same time, he is not above chastising the Rupert Murdoch-owned broadcaster, to whom he gives regular phone interviews, when he disapproves of their coverage.

Here's Harry Cockburn's attempt at interpreting the outburst.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 09:49
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The explosion did not appear to have anything to do with the embarrassing incident below (although it could have), in which intrepid Fox reporter Greg Palkot attempted to cover the jubilant reaction to the USA winning the Women's World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands live from a bar in Lyon, France.

When the crowd behind him erupted into a chant of "F*** Trump! F*** Trump!" Palkot struggled to hold his composure. 

Trump later congratulated the team on their win, despite his very public feud with winger Megan Rapinoe, which blew up after she said: "I'm not going to the f***ing White House". Rapinoe starred in yesterday's win, scoring a crucial penalty early in the second half to set the team on its way to glory.

Here's more from Clark Mindock.

Palkot looks oddly like Eighties icon Max Headroom here.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 10:08
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Also on TV over the weekend was outgoing Republican Justin Amash - who announced his resignation from the GOP on Independence Day last week. Amash appeared on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper to call on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to change her strategy and push for Trump’s impeachment, not ruling out challenging the president with a 2020 run of his own.

Amash had plenty to say for himself, having said in his memorable resignation statement that US politics was caught up in "a partisan death spiral".

Here's more from Clark Mindock.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 10:25
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Trump has responded to the British ambassador to Washington’s leaked memos, saying Sir Kim Darroch “has not served the UK well, I can tell you that”.

"We are not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well... I can say things about him but I won’t bother," the president told the press in New Jersey on Sunday.

In the highly sensitive documents, published by The Daily Mail over the weekend, Sir Kim described the White House as “incompetent” and “inept”, writing: “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal.”

While the UK government has defended Sir Kim, saying "the British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country", Brexit Party leader and Trump fan boy Nigel Farage told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the senior diplomat's remarks were "pretty irresponsible" and said there was "No basis of truth in it whatsoever".

Adam Forrest has this report.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 10:40
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The president also used his stop-and-chat with reporters yesterday to follow up on a Twitter attack on The New York Times, whom he accused of publishing "phony and exaggerated" accounts of living conditions at immigrant detention centres on the US-Mexico border, particularly those at Clint and El Paso in Texas.

The Times were, incidentally, quick to hit back at Trump with a stout defence of its reporting.

A delegation of Democratic congressmen and women visited the Border Patrol-run camps to see the situation for themselves last Monday and returned with horror stories of their own after several weeks of harrowing details emerging regarding the squalid incarceration of children, deeply damaging to the administration.

But, on Sunday, the president struck a defiant chord, inviting the press to do the same (although, presumably, any such visit would be heavily stage managed were it to actually go ahead).

Trump's acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan was meanwhile on ABC's This Week on Sunday, seeking to firefight an "extraordinarily challenging situation". 

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 10:55
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He also had another warning for Iran over its ongoing enrichment of reactor-grade uranium.

Over the weekend, French president Emmanuel Macron said he was working with his counterpart in Tehran, Hassan Rouhani, to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord following the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from it last year, a decision that has greatly increased tensions in the Middle East.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 11:10
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A federal grand jury in New York is investigating top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, examining whether he used his position as vice chair of President Trump's inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders.

A wide-ranging subpoena the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn recently sent to Trump's inaugural committee seeks records relating to 20 individuals and businesses. All have connections to Broidy, his investment and defense contracting firms, and foreign officials he pursued deals with - including the current president of Angola and two politicians in Romania. 

Prosecutors appear to be investigating whether Broidy exploited his access to Trump for personal gain and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for US citizens to offer foreign officials "anything of value" to gain a business advantage. Things of value in this case could have been an invitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump. 

Broidy's attorneys say  that at no point did Broidy or his global security firm Circinus have a contract or exchange of money with "any Romanian government agency, proxy or agent." It also said that while Circinus did reach an agreement with Angola in 2016 there was no connection whatsoever to the inauguration or Broidy's role on the inaugural committee. 

"Any implication to the contrary is completely false," the statement said. 

The Brooklyn probe appears to be distinct from an inquiry by Manhattan federal prosecutors into the inaugural committee's record $107m (£85m) fundraising and whether foreigners unlawfully contributed. 

It followed a request last year by Democratic US senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut that the Justice Department investigate whether Broidy "used access to President Trump as a valuable enticement to foreign officials who may be in a position to advance Mr Broidy's business interests abroad." 

Elliot Broidy (David Karp/AP)

Broidy, a 61-year-old Los Angeles businessman, made a fortune in investments before moving into defence contracting and has played prominent roles in GOP fundraising, including as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 2006 to 2008 and vice chair of the Trump Victory Committee in 2016. 

But there have been problems along the way. In 2009, investigators looked into the New York state pension fund's decision to invest $250m (£199m) with Broidy and found he had plied state officials with nearly $1m (£798,000) in illegal gifts. Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony but it was later knocked down to a misdemeanor after he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and pay back $18m (£14m) in management fees. 

Another scandal came last year when Broidy stepped down as deputy finance chair of the RNC after reports that he agreed to pay $1.6m (£1.3m) as part of a confidentiality agreement to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair. That payment was arranged in 2017 by Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen

In the Brooklyn federal probe, Broidy's is the first name listed in the grand jury subpoena, followed by his Los Angeles investment firm and four limited liability companies linked to him. 

It also sought records related to George Nader, a Broidy associate who served as an adviser to the UAE, provided grand jury testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller and was recently jailed on federal child pornography charges. 

Several of the names included in the subpoena also appeared in a cache of leaked emails anonymously distributed last year to several news organisations. Broidy has contended the emails were hacked from his account and that several of the documents were altered or forged.

The emails show Broidy invited two Angolan leaders named in the subpoena to Trump's inaugural, and that the invitation was accompanied by a multimillion-dollar contract for Circinus to provide security services in Angola that Broidy asked be signed ahead of the events. 

In a follow-up note to one of the Angolans - then-defence minister and current president Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco - Broidy discussed a planned visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and in the same correspondence demanded a past-due payment for Circinus' services. 

"Many preparations have been made in advance of your visit," Broidy wrote in February 2017, "including additional meetings at the Capitol and the Department of Treasury." 

The grand jury subpoena also included several names associated with Broidy's work on behalf of Romanian politicians at a time when Broidy's defense company was seeking a lucrative contract to provide security services to the Romanian government - a deal Broidy's representatives said never came to fruition. 

Those names included Sorin Grindeanu, who at the time was prime minister, and Liviu Dragnea, a former parliamentary leader who began serving a three-year prison sentence in May for abuse of power. Both officials also attended inaugural events. 

Dragnea became a focus of EU efforts to bolster the rule of law because of his efforts to remove an anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, who investigated him. According to the emails, Broidy tried to persuade California Republican representative Ed Royce, then the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, not to meet with Kovesi during a planned visit to Bucharest in 2017. 

"This meeting will not only cause significant issues within the present government (but) potentially diminish the good will which we wish to achieve amongst the Romanian people," Broidy wrote to Royce. 

The emails show a Circinus lawyer, Matt Britton, resigned in October 2017 after expressing alarm to company executives about corruption concerns related to the firm's Romanian contract negotiations. 

"These are FULL STOP issues in my judgment," the attorney wrote. "NO MATTER HOW LONG THAT TAKES IT ALL MUST BE DONE IN ADVANCE OF ANY CONTRACT WITH ROMANIA." 

AP

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 11:25
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Facebook and Twitter are reportedly not being invited to the White House's upcoming social media summit, a calculated snub in the wake of the president's recurrent attacks on liberal-bias among the Silicon Valley tech giants, whom he accuses of using dark arts to mute conservative voices in violation of their right to free speech.

Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to attack the medium itself and recently boasted of his own importance to the site, taking credit for popularising it in an interview on Fox.

In his last meeting with CEO Jack Dorsey, Trump questioned the Twitter executive specifically on why he was losing followers from the microblogging platform.

One man who is being invited to the White House for the tech summit is alt-right troll and meme creator Carpe Donktum - whose work is regularly retweeted by the president - which just about says it all.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 11:40
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The majority of Americans continue to think Trump is "unpresidential" despite his approval ratings hitting the highest point of his time in office, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2019 11:55

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