As it happenedended1560894535

Trump news: President teases 'wild' Orlando rally as state polls show every major Democrat swamping him in 2020

Thousands of supporters flock to president in Florida as he kicks off 2020 campaign

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad,Chris Stevenson
Tuesday 18 June 2019 21:19
Comments
Trump tells his coughing chief-of-staff to get out of the Oval Office: 'You just can't cough'

Donald Trump is reportedly toying with the idea of live tweeting the Democratic 2020 debates on 26 and 27 June to taunt his would-be rivals for the presidency as they face off against one another for the first time.

Ahead of his own formal campaign launch in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, the president has meanwhile announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will begin deporting “millions of illegal aliens” next week.

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress.”

Meanwhile, a boisterous crowd of thousands of supporters gathered in front of the Amway Center arena in Orlando on Tuesday, hours before Mr Trump was set to hold a rally to formally launch his re-election campaign.

His official campaign launch in Florida today also coincides with a “national week of training” for his political supporters to build up ground game in the 2020 elections, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Just before his arrival, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board published a story titled, “Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump”.

“Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent,” the paper wrote. “After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.”

“Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies,” the paper continued, going on to mention several examples of the president’s most flagrant falsities.

Mr Trump meanwhile said his re-election launch will be a political spectacle. In a tweet, he wrote: "People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild — See you later!"

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

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 09:27
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Donald Trump has said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will begin deporting “millions of illegal aliens” next week ahead of the formal launch of his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida.

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” the president tweeted. “Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress.”

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country.

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place and, according to The Washington Post, ICE agents were not expecting the president to make the declaration on social media.

Some in Trump's administration believe that decisive shows of force - like mass arrests - can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the US that it's not worth coming.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts. 

A senior Mexican official said on Monday that, three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the US border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600. 

Immigration was a central theme of Trump's 2016 campaign - where he promised his notorious border wall and famously decried the "bad hombres" moving north, accusing them of bringing and violent crime and drugs with them - and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign. 

In November 2015, he promised a "deportation force" to remove 11 million undocumented migrants - this appears to be the closest he's come to realising that pledge.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid on Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida - a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House. 

Here's Harry Cockburn with more.

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 09:35
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The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" approach to cracking down on immigration has caused outrage around the world, its policies of separating  families and imprisoning children in detention centres along the border (masterminded by senior adviser Stephen Miller) the subject of widespread condemnation.

When the president sacked Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April, whom he "regularly berated" for refusing to implement even stronger measures, Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker said of her: "For the rest of her life people will look at her and think, ‘Oh, that’s the woman who put children in cages'".

Here she is struggling to explain herself on the issue before Congress in March.

Trump remains unshakeable in his conviction that border security is an election-winning issue, hence his racist scaremongering, aided and abetted by Fox News, over the migrant caravan during last November's midterms.

But the cages remain one of the most powerful, enduring and deeply damaging images of the Trump presidency so far, which is why teenage protesters gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday to state their opposition to America's current actions outside the UN by standing in metal prisons.

They wore #ClassroomsNotCages T-shirts and carried signs saying "Children should not be locked up. Period."

"In the past five months, 2,500 children have been separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. This is despite a judge's order to stop and to reunify the children," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

"Six children have died. We are saying to the Human Rights Council: Hear us and help us!"

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 09:57
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In another act of aggression, the Pentagon is sending a further 1,000 American troops to the Middle East, as commanders try to bolster security for forces and allies in the region from what they say is a growing threat from Iran.

Officials said the deployment includes security forces and troops for additional surveillance and intelligence gathering in the region.

The troops are part of a broader military package of options that were initially laid out to US leaders late last month, totaling as much as 10,000 forces, Patriot missile batteries, aircraft and ships.

The latest decision comes as secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other top officials reach out to leaders in Asia and Europe to convince them that Iran was behind alleged attacks on shipping along a Middle East oil route.

Two foreign oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz were hit by explosions last week in attacks Pompeo was quick to say were carried out by the Iranian navy, citing Central Command night-vision footage of sailors removing what he says was an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of one of the stricken vessels.

In announcing the new deployment, acting defence secretary Patrick Shanahan said the forces are "for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East."

"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran," Shanahan said.

"The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests." He added that the US will continue to adjust troop levels as needed.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged the government to explain themselves before Congress.

Earlier, Iran announced it will exceed the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The announcement by Iran's nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran.

President Hassan Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by 7 July or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

Atomic energy spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi suggested that Iran's enrichment could reach up to 20 per cent, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world after facing one from President Trump's administration that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall.

Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the US sanctions.

Andrew Buncombe has this.

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 10:15
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All of this comes with Trump set to formally launch his 2020 campaign with a "MAGA" rally in Orlando later today.

We know the president likes to distort a crowd size and last night he was gloating (nonsensically) about people arriving early.

But for once, he wasn't lying!

Here they are lining the Florida streets for their chance to see Mr T in the flesh.

Advisers say this time out the Trumpster hopes to paint himself as a convention-bucking rebel, aiming to connect the dots between the promise of his disruptive first-time candidacy and his goals for another term in the White House. His promises to rock the ship of state are now more than an abstract pledge, though, complicated by his tumultuous 29 months at its helm. 

But any president is inherently an insider. Trump has worked in the Oval Office for two years, travels the skies in Air Force One, met world leaders, royals and emperors and changed the course of history with the stroke of a pen or the post of a tweet. 

"We're taking on the failed political establishment and restoring government of, by and for the people," Trump said in a video released by his campaign on Monday to mark his relaunch. "It's the people, you're the people, you won the election." 

That populist clarion was a central theme of his maiden political adventure, as the businessman-turned-candidate successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning it, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt. 

Those involved in the president's reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to "Drain the Swamp," still resonates, despite his administration's cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family's apparent efforts to profit off the presidency. 

"He's still not viewed as a politician," said Jason Miller, Trump's 2016 senior communications adviser. "Voters don't define him by the party label, they define him by his policies and his message of shaking up the status quo in Washington. That's the biggest reason he was able to win blue states in 2016." 

Democrats, though, predict Trump won't be able to get away with the outsider branding. 

"How can you say: Forget about the last two years, he is an outsider, he is bashing down doors," said Karine Jean-Pierre, a former senior Obama campaign official now at MoveOn.org. "People's lives are harder because of what he has done as president. Voters are paying their attention and are not going to buy it." 

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 10:30
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Republicans working with the Trump campaign believe that Trump is still perceived as a businessman and point to his clashes with the Washington establishment - including Congress, the so-called Deep State and members of his own party - as proof that he is still an outsider rather than a creature of the Beltway. Helping further that image, Trump advisers believe, is that his main Democratic foils are all career politicians: House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, former vice president Joe Biden and, yes, Hillary Clinton

"He promised that he'd go to Washington and shake things up, and he certainly has," said Trump campaign manager Tim Murtaugh. 

Still, it's not as though Trump is running from Washington. If anything, he's wrapping himself in the trappings and authorities of his office. Last week, Trump granted behind-the-scenes access to his limousine, Marine One helicopter and Air Force One for an hour-long ABC News special meant to highlight the singular advantage he has over his rivals - that he already has the job they want. 

And Trump is eager to use the power of the office to further his case for reelection. Last month in Louisiana, he promised voters a new bridge if he wins, and in the pivotal Florida Panhandle, he pledged new disaster relief money would flow in a second Trump term. 

Trump advisers also point to his popularity among white working-class voters, who consider themselves "forgotten Americans" left behind and mocked by elite insiders. For those voters, many of whom in 2016 cast their first ballots in decades, Trump remains the embodiment of their outsider grievances, their anger stoked by his clashes with political foes and the rest of government (even when his party controls it). 

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarisation, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel. 

Americans acknowledge Trump is a change agent, but they are divided in their views of that change. Early this year, a CNN poll found about three-quarters of Americans saying Trump has created significant changes in the country, and they split about evenly between calling it change for the better and change for the worse. More recently, a March poll from CNN showed 42 per cent of Americans think Trump can bring the kind of change the country needs. 

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 10:45
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Trump will also be facing protests in Orlando, with a local  gay bar serving as the focal point for counter-demonstrations, promising a mariachi band and a drag queen to perform in opposition to the president's policies. 

Organisers of the "Win With Love Rally" said Trump's announcement in Orlando on Tuesday night is an affront to a city with a large Puerto Rican population and a visible gay community. Orlando is at the center of the Interstate 4 corridor, stretching from Tampa to Daytona Beach, which is considered the swingiest part of the nation's largest swing state. 

Opponents blame the Republican president for holding up disaster aid to Puerto Rico over a feud with Democratic leaders on the island. The Trump administration also has moved to revoke newly won health care protections for transgender people, restrict their presence in the military , and withdraw federal guidance that trans students should be able to use bathrooms of their choice. 

The president's announcement comes a week after the third-anniversary of the massacre of 49 people at the gay Pulse club, a turning point for Orlando community leaders in embracing ideas of diversity and tolerance, said Ida Eskamani, a protest organiser. 

"Orlando is such a bastion of hope and love and solidarity of marginalised people since Pulse and we have embraced that identity of who we are as a community," Eskamani said. "We want to show the country that Trump's brand of politics doesn't work along the I-4 corridor. We are ready to win with love." 

The chairman of the local Republican Party said Trump is fighting for all Americans. 

"For them to say Donald Trump doesn't like gay people is wrong. For them to say Donald Trump doesn't like Hispanics is wrong," said Charles Hart, chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee. 

Organisers of the Trump announcement on Tuesday were hosting an all-day festival - dubbed "45 Fest" - outside the Amway Center where the president will speak at night. By early Monday, some supporters had lined up a day and a half in advance, pitching tents and stringing up hammocks outside the arena. 

Others planned to be in Orlando to highlight Trump's track record. An attorney who said he represented dozens of former illegal workers at Trump properties planned a news conference with seven of the workers, along with union members to show "Trump's hypocrisy toward immigrants and his economic policies that hurt all workers," according to a statement. 

Protest organisers also were promising an appearance by the "Baby Trump" blimp at the bar after they raised money to bring it from South Florida. However, the blimp will stay at the bar, located about three blocks from the arena, due to presidential airspace restrictions, Eskamani said. 

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 11:00
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The president didn't appear to get much sleep last night, apparently sitting up late watching Fox worrying about his impeachment and tweeting fever dreams about Hillary's Emails.

Let's hope it was his nagging conscience keeping him awake.

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 11:15
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One of the president's more interesting tweets of late came yesterday evening when he attempted to school his favourite broadcaster on polling and said: "Something weird is going on at Fox".

He was referencing this poll over the weekend, conducted on Fox's behalf, which indicated the incumbent was 10-points behind leading 2020 Democratic challenger Joe Biden, nine behind Bernie Sanders and was also projected to lose against Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg at the ballot box.

Here's one theory as to what going down over there - ratings jealousy over Trump's "30-hour" interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC.

Here's a rundown of the key takeaways from the latest Stephanopolous encounter courtesy of Chris Riotta.

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 11:30
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Here's London mayor Sadiq Khan hitting back at Donald Trump over his recent run of abusive tweets against him.

Khan calls Trump "a poster boy for racists" after he used a Katie Hopkins tweet to launch an attack on the mayor over violent crime in the British capital.

Joe Sommerlad18 June 2019 11:45

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