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Trump news: California attorney general sues White House over national emergency declaration with 12 states expected to join

The latest updates on White House turmoil from Presidents' Day

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Monday 18 February 2019 21:34 GMT
Andrew McCabe reveals conversations about removing Trump from office

Donald Trump is being accused of waging a “relentless attack” on the FBI since taking office as the fallout from his decision to declare a national emergency to secure border wall funding continues.

The remark comes from former deputy director of the bureau Andrew McCabe - dismissed by ex-attorney general Jeff Sessions in March 2018 after being accused of leaking information to the media - in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition to promote his new insider account of the bureau, The Threat.

President Trump has already responded angrily on Twitter to Mr McCabe's appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday, in which the latter said he had discussed removing the president under the 25th Amendment and ordered an investigation into whether ex-director James Comey was removed in May 2017 to impede the Russian election hacking investigation.

Mr McCabe also revealed that when the president told Mr Rosenstein to put in writing his concerns with former FBI Director James Comey — a document the White House initially held up as justification for his firing — the president explicitly asked the Justice Department official to reference Russia in the memo. Mr Rosenstein did not want to, Mr McCabe said, and the memo that was made public upon Mr Comey’s dismissal did not mention Russia and focused instead on Mr Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation.

“He explained to the president that he did not need Russia in his memo,” Mr McCabe said. “And the president responded, “I understand that, I am asking you to put Russia in the memo anyway.”

The news arrived as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced he was suing Mr Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border, with as many as twelve states joining the lawsuit.

California has repeatedly challenged Trump in court. Mr Becerra has filed at least 45 lawsuits against the administration.

Mr Trump declared the emergency last week to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.

The announcement was immediately met with resistance from members of Congress.

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Additional reporting by AP. Read The Independent's live coverage on the White House turmoil on Monday below.

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Happy Presidents' Day!

Welcome to The Independent's coverage of another busy day in Trump's America.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 12:33

President Trump finds himself facing further criticism this morning from former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

The official - fired by ex-attorney-general Jeff Sessions in March 2018 over a Justice Department report accusing him of leaking information to the media and "lacking candour" about it - is heard in pre-released extracts from an interview with NPR's Morning Edition saying: "I think the FBI has been under a relentless attack in the last two years."

Mr McCabe is promoting a new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terrorism and Trump, addressing his sacking 26 hours before his scheduled retirement, the alleged Russian election hacking being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller and the current state of morale within the bureau.

Mr McCabe appeared on 60 Minutes on CBS on Sunday and his suggestion that he and senior Justice Department officials discussed the possibility of removing President Trump via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution caused a sensation.

Here, he appears to row back on the significance of the revelation: "At no time did I ever perceive that there was a legitimate effort underway by Rod [Rosenstein, deputy attorney-general] or anybody else to remove the president under the 25th Amendment or in any other way."

The 25th Amendment outlines how a sitting president can be removed by the vice-president and cabinet.

He also tells NPR that he believes his own firing "sends an unbelievably chilling message to the rest of the men and women of the FBI".

"It sends a message that if you stand up for what you think is right, and you do the right thing, and you honour your obligations to this organisation and the Constitution, that you too could be personally targeted and lose those things that you've been building towards your whole career."

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 12:45

Mr Trump has unsurprisingly hit back against Mr McCabe over the CBS and NPR appearances, the pair suffering a tumultuous relationship in the aftermath of the president's sacking of FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 12:48

In the Morning Edition interview, set to be aired in full on Monday, Mr McCabe said he has an ongoing civil lawsuit against the Justice Department over the circumstances of his firing.

He said he believes the report by the FBI's Office of Inspector General (OIG) used as the basis for his dismissal was biased against him.

He pointed to the personal attacks Trump has launched against himself on Twitter and said of the OIG, "I don't believe they were independent or fair."

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 12:52

Meanwhile, activists are calling for nationwide protests on Presidents' Day - held on the third Monday of every February in honour of George Washington's birthday - to demonstrate against President Trump's declaration of a national emergency on Friday to secure funding for his US-Mexico border wall.

The organisers of the demonstrations, the non-profit advocacy group, said they would be held throughout the day in towns and cities including Washington, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"Come and voice your outrage," it says on its website, set up to help protesters find their nearest event. The group called Mr Trump's declaration an abuse of power and usurpation of Congress.

Mr Trump invoked the emergency powers under the National Emergencies Act - introduced under Gerald Ford in 1976 with no definition of what constitutes a crisis in place - after Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7bn (£4.4bn) to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise.

Democrats have vowed to challenge it as a violation of the US Constitution. Mr Trump says a wall is needed to curb illegal immigrants and illicit drugs coming across the border. 

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 12:57

A remark by Andrew McCabe to Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes appeared to indicate the removal of James Comey had so concerned the Justice Department that its senior officials had discussed the possibility of engineering President Trump's removal under the 25th Amendment.

Rod Rosenstein, for his part, has denied the claim.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, has since described the rumoured "bureaucratic coup" as "stunning" and pledged a congressional investigation.

“I promise your viewers the following; that we will have a hearing about who’s telling the truth, what actually happened,” he told CBS.

Here's Tim Wyatt's report.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 13:13
Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 13:23

Since the president declared the southern border "crisis" a national emergency from the White House Rose Garden on Friday, the Democrats have been busy preparing legal challenges to block his redirection of federal funds to pay for the border wall.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 13:29

In other Trump news this morning, actor Alec Baldwin has said the president's criticism of his impersonation of him on NBC's Saturday Night Live has left him fearing for his safety.

The president lashed out again after this weekend's instalment:

...To which Baldwin responded.

Here's Clarisse Loughrey.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 13:45

The president is currently watching his favourite breakfast show, Fox and Friends, which is being as measured as ever.

Joe Sommerlad18 February 2019 13:56

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