As it happenedended1568838858

Trump news: President rages over impeachment hearing, escalates Iran tensions on Twitter and names ASAP Rocky 'hostage negotiator' as national security chief

Follow the latest updates from Washington, as it happened

Joe Sommerlad,Clark Mindock
Wednesday 18 September 2019 15:38
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Donald Trump accused of lying after claiming that Latinos also want the wall

Donald Trump — visiting California for fundraisers and a trip to his US-Mexico border wall – has lashed out at the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearings against him, calling them “the greatest political scam in US history!” at the start of a chaotic day on Twitter.

The president also announced he would be increasing sanctions on Iran and named Robert O’Brien as his new national security adviser to replace John Bolton, the State Department diplomat last heard from attempting to intervene as a “hostage negotiator” when US rapper A$AP Rocky was detained in Sweden and charged with assault.

Mr Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski could meanwhile be held in contempt of Congress over his stonewalling before the Judiciary panel on Tuesday, a tense hearing in which he refused to answer questions, appeared to admit lying to the media, promoted his website during a bathroom break and was told his behaviour was “completely unacceptable”.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve once again slashed interest rates, the second time since July.

The slash caused Mr Trump to lash out at Jerome Powell, the Fed's chairman, on Twitter.

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

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 09:35
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Donald Trump's ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski could be held in contempt of Congress over his stonewalling before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, a tense hearing in which he refused to answer questions, appeared to admit lying to the media and was told his behaviour was “completely unacceptable”.

Long-suffering chairman Jerrold Nadler in particular had his patience tested throughout...

...as Lewandowski stonewalled again and again, repeatedly reminding the panel the White House had directed him to keep his mouth shut on anything other than what is explicitly stated in the Mueller report regarding possible impeachable offences that the president may or may not have carried out. He did so with obvious relish.

Among other exasperating admissions from Lewandowski was his confession that he had never actually read the special counsel's 446-page report...

...and that he saw no problem with lying to the media.

Incredibly, he even had the audacity to promote his website (trailing a potential run for the Senate in New Hampshire) during a bathroom break!

There were some superb exchanges, however, with representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Steve Cohen, Pramila Jayapal and lawyer Barry Berke all succeeding in drawing blood from this particularly obstinatestone.

Here's Andrew Buncombe's report on a deeply frustrating day on Capitol Hill for Democrats.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 09:55
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For Indy Voices, Ahmed Baba concludes Tuesday's hearing was a mess of lies and sycophantic games, with Lewandowski knowing full he was really speaking to an audience of one, as the tweet below makes clear.

Yesterday's performance was "a microcosm of the culture of corruption President Trump has cultivated", Baba suggests.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 10:10
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The president himself is in California on Wednesday, where he will take part in further lunch-dinner-breakfast-lunch fundraising efforts in pursuit of a cool $15m (£12m) in donations from wealthy Republicans and visit his US-Mexico border wall (still under construction), this despite having already angered the blue state by saying its homeless population spoils the “prestige” of Los Angeles and San Francisco and plotting to revoke its powers to set its own auto emissions standards.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” the president said, speaking of homelessness to reporters on Air Force One en route to Mountain View.

“But we have people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings and pay tremendous taxes, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige,” Trump added.

“In many cases they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents. Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, said ahead of Trump's arrival that he hoped the president would work with the city to end homelessness but admitted he had not been invited to meet with him during the current jaunt.

With one significant insult already served up, it was subsequently reported that the Trump administration is expected to rescind California’s legal authority to set its own air pollution standards stricter than federal guidelines as part of its long-term plan to weaken Obama-era climate policy, measures that had been introduced to curb exhaust emissions from cars, one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the US. 

A heady court battle awaits.

Here's Lily Puckett.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 10:30
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Also on Air Force One, Trump made a vague pledge to the travelling press that he would resolve his China trade war in time for the 2020 election, mocked Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren over the 20,000-strong crowd she drew to her New York City rally on Monday and failed to appropriately mourn the passing of admired journalist Cokie Roberts, saying: “She never treated me nicely”.

On China

"I think there'll be a deal maybe soon, maybe before the election, or one day after the election. And if it's after the election, it'll be a deal like you've never seen, it'll be the greatest deal ever and China knows that.

"They think I'm going to win. China thinks I'm going to win so easily and they're concerned because I told them: 'If it's after the election, it's going to be far worse than what it is right now.' I told them that. Would they like to see somebody else win? Absolutely."

On Elizabeth Warren

“Anybody that can’t get people standing in the middle of Manhattan in the most densely populated area of the country - anybody could do that. I think more Democrats should do it. I get these crowds in areas that nobody’s ever seen crowds before. Pretty amazing.”

On Cokie Roberts

"I never met her. She never treated me nicely. But I would like to wish her family well. She was a professional, and I respect professionals. I respect you guys a lot, you people a lot. She was a real professional. Never treated me well, but I certainly respect her as a professional."

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 10:50
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Trump's arrival in California on Tuesday - following his latest campaign rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico - has already seen him met by protesters, including a giant chicken with a golden bouffant hair-do in Portola Valley.

Others demonstrated in Pershing Square and Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, with placards and banners.

(Mario Tama/Getty)

(Etienne Laurent/EPA)

The president's MAGA crowd were also out in force to welcome him.

(Etienne Laurent/EPA)

(Etienne Laurent/EPA)

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 11:10
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Three people were injured after a car ploughed through the glass-doored lobby of the Trump Plaza in New Rochelle, New York, last night, an incident the NYPD is not treating as suspicious.

Two pedestrians and the driver were hurt after the black Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe crashed into the 40-storey luxury residence at 9pm. The driver casually got out of the car and sat on the sofa in the building’s main hall.

Neither Trump nor members of his family currently keep an apartment there.

Samuel Osborne has the full story.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 11:30
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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was in DC yesterday, where she befriended Barack Obama before telling senators keen to hail her as an icon: "Please save your praise. We don’t want it. Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn’t lead to anything. I know you are trying, but just not hard enough. Sorry."

Here's Andy Gregory's report.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 11:50
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Speaking at a conference entitled "In Defence of American Democracy" at George Washington University yesterday, defeated 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton attacked Facebook for allowing "Trump's propaganda effots" to thrive.

“The Trump campaign is already spending hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook each week to spread fake endorsements and outright lies about Democrats. They have been doing this since after the 2017 inauguration, but it’s getting at an even higher velocity now,” she said.

The former first lady and secretary of state added that “even though these posts violate Facebook’s stated terms of service, they’re still up. Facebook is still paid for them. And the people who are targeted to receive them still believe them.”

According to The Huffington Post, Clinton was citing research by left-wing journalist Judd Legum that found Trump's campaign was using stock image models to give bogus endorsements in videos and promoted false deadlines to pressure supporters into making instant donations in exchange for a chance to win signed merchandise.

Trump's Facebook adverts were also in the spotlight last month after it emerged the word "invasion" had been used some 22,000 times to scare voters over immigration, echoing language used by the El Paso mass shooter Patrick Crusius in the white supremacist manifesto he posted on 8chan before targeting Hispanic shoppers in a Texas Walmart, leaving 22 dead.

Clinton also took the president and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to task for "abdicating their responsibilities" by failing to act on gun control in the wake of that tragedy and further shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and Odessa, Texas, and offered a dire warning about election integrity and the threat posed by voter suppression looking ahead to 2020.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 12:10
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Trump was fairly quiet on Twitter yesterday but did take time to correct South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham - who once dismissed him as a "kook" but is now among his most ardhent fans - on the significance of his decision to back away from airstrikes on Iran with planes in the air back in June.

He also continued to attack The New York Times, one of his favourite targets, over its latest reporting on Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, again the subject of historic sexual misconduct allegations.

In the latest development on that score, Democratic congresswoman Ayanna Pressley yesterday launched her resolution to have the Trump-appointed judge impeached.

Joe Sommerlad18 September 2019 12:25

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