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Trump news: White House 'is in fast competition' with Nixon administration on obstruction, Watergate accuser says

Follow the latest updates from Washington, as it happened

Donald Trump's hair dances in the wind during d-day memorial

Donald Trump is facing a renewed onslaught from House Democrats, who will begin picking over the Mueller report‘s obstruction of justice evidence on Monday as the party continues to weigh up launching impeachment proceedings against the president.

The House will stage a vote on whether to hold attorney general William Barr and ex-White House adviser Don McGahn in contempt of Congress on Tuesday after the pair ignored congressional subpoenas. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee will review the ramifications of 2016 Russian election hacking for national security on Wednesday.

With those actions in mind, the House Judiciary Committee heard from former Watergate witness John Dean, and former US attorneys, who repeatedly told Congress that they believe that Mr Trump had attempted to obstruct justice. If he were anyone other than the president, they said, he would have been charged with the crime.

Mr Dean, during his prepared remarks, said that the Mueller report is very similar to a "Watergate Road Map", meaning it could help the panel as it investigates Mr Trump for obstruction or collusion.

He continued to say that Mr McGahn, should he not testify before Congress, would be perpetuating a "cover up" for the president.

"I sincerely hope that Mr McGahn will voluntarily appear and testify," he said. "His silence is perpetuating an ongoing cover-up, and while his testimony will create a few political enemies, based on almost 50 years of experience I can assure him he will make far more real friends."

Mr Trump had blasted Mr Dean, and Republicans on the committee likewise questioned why he should be trusted to give testimony, since he had pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice related to the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.

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The president has also threatened China with further tariffs during a phone interview with CNBC, saying the Asian nation will ultimately make a deal “because they have to”, while also warning the tech giants of Silicon Valley he could take action against them over the “discrimination” he believes he and other prominent conservatives have been subjected to.

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

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 09:33

Donald Trump is facing a renewed onslaught from House Democrats who will begin picking over the Mueller report's obstruction of justice evidence on Monday as the party continues to weigh up launching impeachment proceedings against the president.

The House will follow up by staging a vote on whether to hold attorney general William Barr and ex-White House adviser Don McGahn in contempt of Congress on Tuesday after the pair ignored congressional subpoenas. The House Intelligence Committee will then review the ramifications of Russian election hacking for national security on Wednesday.

In doing so, the Democrats are trying to draw the public's attention towards the allegations that Trump sought to obstruct a federal investigation and they want to highlight his campaign's contacts with Russia in 2016. They will also lay the groundwork for an appearance from Mueller himself, despite his stated desire to avoid the spotlight. 

The hearings will focus on the two main topics of Mueller's report, obstruction of justice and Russian election interference. 

The House Judiciary Committee's meeting today will examine "presidential obstruction and other crimes". Mueller said there was not enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but he said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction, citing some 11 instances of possible presidential wrongdoing in his 448-page, two-volume dossier. Barr and his then-deputy AG Rod Rosenstein moved quickly to rule out charges against the president after taking delivery of the report in late March before publishing a redacted version several weeks later.

With Trump pledging that "we're fighting all the subpoenas", Democratic leaders want to avoid repeated floor votes on contempt resolutions that detract from their legislative agenda. 

The procession of hearings and votes in the week ahead is partly designed to mollify anxious Democrats who have pushed House speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings immediately. Pelosi has so far rejected that option, preferring a slower, more methodical approach to investigating the president, including the court fights and hearings. 

During a meeting with the House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and other committee heads last week, Pelosi made the case that she would rather see Trump voted out of office and "in prison" than merely impeached, according to a report in Politico

Nadler's committee will hear testimony from John Dean, a counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate era who served time in jail for his role as a major orchestrator of the scandal's cover-up. Former federal prosecutors Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance will also appear as witnesses.

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 09:48

The latest approach appears to have temporarily satisfied the restless House Democrats. 

Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin, who pleaded with Pelosi last month to start an inquiry, said the votes and hearings are going to be enough, for now, as they wait to see what happens in court. 

"I am very satisfied that things are moving in the right direction," Raskin said. "And I think the American people are getting increasingly educated and engaged about the lawlessness of the president." 

David Cicilline, a Judiciary Committee member who favors an impeachment inquiry, took pains to avoid separating himself from top Democrats such as Pelosi. 

"We should never proceed with impeachment for political reasons. We should never refuse to proceed with impeachment for political reasons," Cicilline said on Fox News Sunday.

California congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the goal of his Wednesday hearing will be to explain to the American people "the serious counterintelligence concerns raised by the Mueller report, examine the depth and breadth of the unethical and unpatriotic conduct it describes, and produce prescriptive remedies to ensure that this never happens again." 

Republicans are poised to defend the president at the hearings and challenge Democrats on the decision not to open impeachment hearings. 

Georgia's Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, sent Nadler a letter on Friday calling the upcoming hearing a "mock impeachment hearing" and warning Democrats to be civil when speaking of the president. 

Collins said in the letter that outside of impeachment proceedings, "it is out of order for a member of Congress, in debate, to engage in personalities with the president or express an opinion, even a third party opinion, accusing the president of a crime. The rules are clear on this point." 

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 10:05

One man far from satisfied about these developments is President Trump himself.

After returning from his state visit to Britain, Ireland and France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and backing down on his tariff threat against Mexico, Trump has been busy on Twitter once again, busily retweeting favourable coverage and the thoughts of alt-right provocatrix Candace Owens

His own remarks on the subject followed along familiar lines and found him telling the Democrats to drop the matter and "Go back to work!"

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 10:15

Trump was actually in introspective mood on Twitter over the weekend, making the surprisingly self-aware concession that his style was "not at all 'Presidential'" but necessary to hit back at the "Corrupt Media". 

This came amidst his attacks on The New York Times ("They are truly The Enemy of the People!") over its coverage of his Mexico climbdown.

Trump had sought to control the narrative about his deal with the US's southern neighbour...

.... but quickly lost his cool with The NYT.

He ended up complaining that, had his predecessor Barack Obama achieved the same, "a National Holiday would be immediately declared".

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 10:31

Here's Colin Drury's report on the president's abrupt U-turn on his plan to introduce escalating tariffs on Mexican goods to punish the country for failing to do more to block illegal immigration from Central America.

Scepticism about the deal the Trump administration reached with the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is rife.

So much so that even Fox News host Brett Bair was moved to ask acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan about The New York Times's reporting that Mexico had actually agreed to take action at the border months ago.

"Is any of this new?" he asked. McAleenan insisted the new terms - allowing detainees to be held in Mexico until their asylum applications had been processed and more Mexican troops being sent to the  US - was "very different".

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 10:45

In other Trump news, the president reportedly had a fan in deceased Boston Mafia boss, James “Whitey” Bulger, leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang.

The gangster – who was murdered, aged 89, in prison last year – praised this "man of the hour" in a series of letters written from his cell.

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 11:00

Meanwhile - fans of literary symbolism take note - the "friendship tree" Trump and Melania planted with visiting French dignitaries Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron last year on the south lawn of the White House has withered and died.

The oak sapling, intended to commemorate the Battle of Belleau Wood in the First World War, has struggled to adapt to its surroundings and finally succumbed to the unfavourable conditions of Washington.

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 11:15

This is excellent. According to The Sun, President Trump owes Transport (TfL) for London £750 in unpaid Congestion Charge fees from his three-day state visit last week, when his presidential limo "The Beast" - armour-plated and part of a seven-vehicle motorcade - was seen rolling around Whitehall and The Mall.

Further, the US embassy reportedly owes a whopping £12.4m after neglecting to pay the £11.50 per day toll.

"We are clear that the Congestion Charge is for a service and not a tax," Paul Cowperthwaite of TfL says. "This means that foreign diplomats are not exempt from paying it."

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 11:30

Trump has spent his morning so far retweeting his own favourites from a busy weekend of tweets, greatest hits such as this:

He did have this to say on Mexico, accusing the Democrats of "doing NOTHING" to stop illegal immigration and advocating open borders.

Joe Sommerlad10 June 2019 11:45

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