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Trump says he does not believe white nationalism is rising after signing first veto

Follow the latest updates

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Friday 15 March 2019 22:07 GMT
Trump threatens veto if congress votes against border emergency

Donald Trump signed the first veto of his presidency after the Senate‘s decision to vote 59-41 in favour of a resolution expressing disapproval at his national emergency declaration over the illegal immigration “crisis” at the southern border.

In a major embarrassment for the president, 12 Republicans voted against his invocation of emergency powers to get his signature US-Mexico border wall built, bringing the resolution to his desk and forcing him to exercise his powers of office to block it. Mr Trump then claimed there was an “invasion” at the border and vetoed the resolution.

Despite the veto, the president’s emergency declaration still faces numerous legal challenges, with cases arguing it was unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union, which filed one of the cases, said the veto was meaningless. “Congress has rejected the president’s declaration, and now the courts will be the ultimate arbiter of its legality,” said executive director Anthony Romero. “We look forward to seeing him in court and to the shellacking that he will receive at the hands of an independent judiciary.”

Meanwhile, top officials from Donald Trump’s administration failed to describe the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, as acts of terror, including his vice president, White House press secretary, ambassador to New Zealand and more.

When asked during the Oval Office address whether he saw an increase in white nationalism, Mr Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people.”

He also said he had not seen a manifesto in which the suspected gunman denounced immigrants and praised Mr Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.

At least 49 people were killed with dozens more seriously injured after shootings at two mosques in Christchurch. The suspected attacker, Brenton Tarrant, live-streamed the attack and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.

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

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 09:10

President Trump has tweeted a defiant "VETO!" in response to yesterday's Senate vote on his national emergency declaration.

The resolution, first tabled by House Democrats, expressed disapproval at the president's decision to invoke emergency powers in February over the illegal immigration "crisis" on the country's southern border with Mexico, enabling him to reallocate government funds towards the construction of his border wall without having to seek congressional approval.

The Senate vote passed 59-41, with 12 Republicans defying Mr Trump after he had implored the party to stand by him, a major embarrassment.

"Today's votes cap a week of something the American people haven't seen enough of in the last two years, both parties in the United States Congress standing up to Donald Trump," said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer 

The president had made no secret of his intention to veto the decision should it pass the second chamber, elaborating on Twitter:

Here's Andrew Buncombe with more.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 09:21

On the horrific terror attack on a mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand, in which at least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured, the president tweeted a link directing his followers to coverage of the mass shooting from alt-right news site Breitbart, once run by his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

It's very early in the morning in Washington, DC, at present but we can expect a more formal statement from the president shortly.

You can follow breaking developments on the atrocity below.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 09:27

With exceptionally poor timing (even for him), Donald Trump Jr - the president's son - happened to post this image on Instagram yesterday with the caption, "Triggered". 

That's a magazine clip for an automatic rifle, punning on his father's "MAGA" slogan, standing for "Make America Great Again".

While the image went up well before the news broke from Christchurch, the post would have been in staggeringly bad taste at the best of times.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 09:37

Meanwhile, a New York City judge has reminded Donald Trump he is not above the law.

Justice Dianne Renwick came to the conclusion that any sitting president could still be tried at state level after Mr Trump attempted to delay a defamation trial arising from a lawsuit brought against him by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality show The Apprentice.

Ms Zervos argues Mr Trump's repeated denials of the sexual misconduct allegations she has raised against him amount to factual falsehoods, impugn her character and has cost her business at a restaurant she owns in southern California.

The claimant came forward in October 2016, a month before Mr Trump was elected in response to the Access Hollywood tape, to allege he had kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later attempted to grope her at a hotel in Beverly Hills.

In a three-two decision, the Appellate Division in Manhattan said the US Constitution did not strip state courts of power to decide cases even if they involved sitting presidents.

"The president is still a person and he is not above the law," Justice Renwick wrote.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 09:51

Popular Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke finally announced his intention to run for the presidency in 2020 yesterday and Mr Trump was quick to deride the latest entrant to what is becoming a crowded field.

Calling him "crazy" and mocking his hand gestures when speaking is pretty mild by The Donald's standards and surely only a foretaste of things to come for Mr O'Rourke.

The new contender rose to national fame last autumn thanks to his outspoken but ultimately unsuccessful run against Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the November midterms, a fight that saw the president forced to swallow his pride and back his old adversary "Lyin' Ted".

Here's Chris Riotta.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 10:07

Here's a little more on the Democrats' new icon and where he stands on the biggest issues confronting a divided nation.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 10:25

The president made his remarks about Beto O'Rourke during a press conference at the White House with Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He also had this to say about Brexit and Theresa May.

“I’m surprised at how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of the negotiation, but I gave the prime minister my ideas on how to negotiate it, and I think you would have been successful,” he told reporters.

“She didn’t listen to that and that’s fine. She’s gotta do what she’s gotta do but I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly. I hate to see everything being ripped apart right now."

Here's Tom Embury-Dennis.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 10:40

This was an interesting meeting of minds at the White House yesterday.

Vice-president Mike Pence and his wife Karen - both devout Christians known for endorsing anti-LGBT+ standpoints - hosted openly gay Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett for breakfast.

The couple were in the US capital ahead of St Patrick's Day on Sunday, with Mr Varadkar presenting Donald and Melania with the customary shamrock bowl to honour transatlantic ties.

“I lived in a country where if I’d tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws,” the Irish prime minister told The Washington Post.

“But today, that is all changed. I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs.”

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 10:55

In case you missed it, the House of Representatives yesterday passed  a resolution calling for FBI special counsel Robert Mueller's report into possible Russian election meddling to be made public.

It is due to drop on the desk of new attorney-general William Barr any day now.

Joe Sommerlad15 March 2019 11:10

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