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Donald Trump has once more stirred up calls for his impeachment after saying in an interview he would accept intelligence on a political opponent from a foreign power rather than inform the FBI.

“If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ – oh, I think I’d want to hear it”, the president said during an Oval Office interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The remark immediately inspired Mr Trump’s 2020 Democratic challengers to unite in calls for his removal from the White House, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren all condemning his words and California senator Kamala Harris branding him a “national security threat”.

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

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Donald Trump has once more stirred up calls for his impeachment after saying in an interview he would accept intelligence on a political rival from a foreign power rather than inform the FBI.

“If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ – oh, I think I’d want to hear it... It's not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it”, the president said during an Oval Office interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The broadcaster had asked Trump about his son Don Jr's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier on Thursday to clarify statements he made to Congress about the Trump Organization's interests in Russia, which appeared to contradict the version of events offered by his father's ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Don Jr was of course at the centre of the fabled Trump Tower meeting on 9 June 2016 when members of the campaign met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who claimed to have "dirt" on his Democratic presidential foe Hillary Clinton, a source of particular fascination to Robert Mueller.

The FBI special counsel painstakingly documented Russian efforts to boost Trump's campaign and undermine that of his Democratic rival. While Mueller's investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's campaign, the man himself repeatedly praised WikiLeaks in 2016 and celebrated information exposed by Russian hackers.

Here is the offending clip in all its brazen glory.

The remark immediately inspired Trump’s 2020 Democratic challengers to unite in calls for his removal from the White House, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren all condemning his words and California senator and former prosecutor Kamala Harris branding him a “national security threat”.

Incredibly, Trump's comments came just a month after he pledged not to use information stolen by foreign adversaries in his 2020 reelection campaign.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Oval Office in May, Trump said he "would certainly agree to" that commitment. "I don't need it," he said as he met with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

"All I need is the opponents that I'm looking at."

Trump also insisted erroneously that he "never did use, as you probably know" such information, adding: "That's what the Mueller report was all about. They said no collusion."

Here's Andrew Buncombe to make sense of it all.

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When it was put to Trump by Stephanopoulos that FBI director Christopher Wray had told politicians Don Jr should have called his agency to report the offer, the president responded by saying: "The FBI director is wrong... Life doesn't work like that."

“I don't think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI,” he continued, scoffing at the very idea.

But, as others were quick to point out, he most definitely has.

Here are Wray's precise words on the subject, which leave little room for interpretation.

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All this followed a busy day on Capitol Hill.

In addition to Don Jr's appearance before the Senate behind closed doors, the House Oversight Committee voted to 24-15 in favour of holding attorney general William Barr and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas related to an effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US Census.

For Barr, the top US law enforcement official, it was the second time a House panel had made such a recommendation against him.

Trump earlier in the day asserted executive privilege to keep under wraps documents related to his administration's push to add the controversial question to the census, snubbing the committee chaired by Democrat Elijah Cummings in so doing.

"The president's assertion does not change the fact that the attorney general and the secretary of commerce are sadly in contempt," Cummings said during a nearly seven-hour meeting of the Democratic-led investigative panel.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that the committee was playing "political games" and that the agency had tried for months to accommodate the committee's demands for documents. Ross called the vote an "empty stunt."

Trump remains locked in a political battle with House Democrats over the legislature's power to hold the executive to account. Trump and members of his inner circle have repeatedly ignored official demands and requests from Congress for documents and testimony.

Traditionally, executive privilege has only rarely been invoked by presidents to keep other branches of government from getting access to certain internal executive branch information. Trump last month also invoked it to block a House panel from getting an unredacted copy of the Mueller report.

Contempt of Congress is an offence that can be enforced in several ways. So far, House Democrats have moved toward bringing federal court actions in which they would ask a judge to enforce compliance with congressional subpoenas by imposing daily fines on defendants or even arrest and imprisonment.

The House Judiciary Committee on 8 May voted to recommend a contempt citation against Barr over his refusal to comply with the subpoena seeking the unredacted Mueller report.

Democrats on the Oversight Committee were joined in supporting the contempt citations for Barr and Ross by Republican Representative Justin Amash, who is also the sole House Republican to call Trump's behaviour "impeachable."

Here's Clark Mindock's report.

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The fight over adding a citizenship question to the census presents high stakes for both Trump's fellow Republicans and the Democrats, with the 2020 US elections looming.

Asked about the issue, Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday: "When you have a census and you're not allowed to talk about whether or not somebody's a citizen or not, that doesn't sound so good to me... It's totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking."

Democrats said during the Oversight Committee meeting that the issue deserved closer scrutiny.

"Is it really about citizenship? No. It's about reducing the number of people of colour being counted in the census. That's exactly what it's about," Representative Rashida Tlaib said.

The US Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of this month on the administration's appeal of a judge's ruling that blocked the addition of the question as a violation of federal law. The judge's ruling came in a lawsuit by a group of states and immigrant rights organisations arguing that including a citizenship question would scare immigrants and Latinos away from participating in the national population count, which takes place every ten years.

Groups challenging the citizenship question on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to delay ruling on the case so that newly uncovered evidence they allege shows how the administration concealed its true motives can be assessed.

Critics have said Republicans want to engineer a deliberate population undercount in Democratic-leaning areas where many immigrants live in order to gain seats in the House. The census count is used to allot seats in the House and to guide distribution of billions of dollars of federal funds.

The Oversight Committee is looking into how the Trump administration devised its plan to add the citizenship question. The committee has said that Ross, whose department runs the census, told the panel that he added the question "solely" at the request of the Justice Department.

However, committee Democrats have said documents show Ross "began a secret campaign" to add the question shortly after taking office and months before being formally asked to do so by the Justice Department.

The committee has said that documents and testimony also showed that discussions about the matter between Ross and former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach were "orchestrated" by Steve Bannon, a conservative former close adviser to Trump.

Representative Jim Jordan, the Oversight Committee's top Republican, accused Democrats of trying to influence the Supreme Court's pending ruling with the contempt charge. Democratic representative Stephen Lynch called the accusation "absolutely ridiculous."

Citizenship has not been asked of all households since the 1950 census, featuring only on questionnaires sent to a smaller subset of the population.

At the meeting, Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said of the census: "This determines who is here (in Congress). This determines who has power in the United States of America."

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Trump spent much of Thursday hosting Polish president Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda at the White House to talk defence.

The US will send 1,000 more troops to Poland as part of a growing security and economic partnership between the two countries, the president subsequently announced.

But Trump and Duda differed over Russia's intentions toward the US ally.

At a time of ongoing worries about Russian military activity, Duda said he wanted Russia to be a friend of Poland even as he recounted his country's long history of conflict with Moscow.

"We would like Russia to be our friend, but unfortunately, Russia again is showing its very unkind, unpleasant imperial face," Duda said, noting its attacks on Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.

Trump, who has a history of appearing to defer to Russia, seemed to downplay Duda's concerns.

"I hope that Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I think it's possible. I really do," Trump said.

"I think because of what you've done, and the strength, and maybe we help also, because of what we're doing and doing for Poland.

"But I hope Poland is going to have a great relationship with Russia. I hope we're going to have a great relationship with Russia, and by the way, China and many other countries," he said.

Trump said he likely will make his second visit to Poland as president in September, the 80th anniversary of the invasion by Nazi Germany in 1939 that set off the Second World War.

He said he was thinking about allowing Poland to participate in a State Department programme that allows its citizens to visit the US for tourism or business without obtaining a visa, but that more progress was needed before a final decision.

Polish leaders had hoped to land a permanent US base in their country that they said could be called Fort Trump, but the agreement announced on Wednesday fell short of that. It includes just the addition of about 1,000 troops and a squadron of Reaper drones for intelligence purposes.

Trump said the Polish government will pay for the infrastructure to support the troops. The service members will be added to an existing force of about 4,500 US troops that rotate in and out of Poland.

Trump said he probably would shift some US service members from Germany, where tens of thousands have been based for a "long, long time," or from elsewhere in Europe.

He offered no timetable for when the additional military personnel would begin arriving in Poland.

Trump also hailed Poland's decision to buy more than 30 F-35 joint strike fighter jets from the US.

In recognition of that purchase, a single F-35 made two passes over the White House on a sunny afternoon as Trump, Duda and their wives watched from the lawn.

Duda also invoked Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan as he thanked the president for his interest in Poland.

In the Oval Office, Trump said he had no concerns about backsliding on democracy in Poland.

Duda denied there were problems, saying "everything is excellent". Critics have accused the Polish government of taking steps to undermine the judiciary and the news media.

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Speaking of Russia, president Vladimir Putin has said relations between Moscow and Washington are getting worse and worse, noting in an interview published on Thursday that the current US administration had imposed dozens of sanctions on Russia.

Putin made his gloomy assessment ahead of a G20 summit in Japan later this month at which he might meet Trump.

US-Russia ties remain strained by everything from Syria to Ukraine as well as allegations of Russian interference in US politics, which Moscow denies.

"They (our relations) are going downhill, they are getting worse and worse," Putin told the Mir TV channel, according to a Kremlin transcript.

"The current administration has approved, in my opinion, several dozen decisions on sanctions against Russia in recent years."

The Russian leader contrasted Moscow's troubled relationship with Washington with what he described as its blossoming ties with China, a deepening strategic friendship that has alarmed some US policymakers.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he would meet Putin at the G20 in Japan, but the Kremlin said a day earlier that the idea for the meeting was "hanging in the air" and that there were no discussions on specifics yet.

Trump's pledge to deploy 1,000 US troops to Poland has been seen as an obvious step sought by Warsaw to deter potential aggression from Russia.

In another move certain to rankle with Moscow, Trump said on Wednesday he was considering sanctions over Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project and warned Germany against being dependent on Russia for energy.

Putin, who has spoken out in favour of China in its burgeoning trade war with the United States, said in the same interview that he hoped for smoother ties with Washington despite the current trajectory of their relationship.

"We really hope that common sense will prevail in the end," said Putin.

"That with all of our partners, including our American partners... we can reach some decisions in the framework of the forthcoming G20 that will be constructive and create the necessary stable conditions for economic cooperation." 

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The New York Times reported overnight that the Justice Department intends to interview senior CIA officials as part of its probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and alleged Democratic bias, ostensibly an abuse of power inquiry that is being seen by those on the left as an obvious act of retaliation for the Mueller report.

Attorney general William Barr has appointed Connecticut state attorney John Durham to conduct the new examination of the American intelligence services' efforts to monitor Russian intervention in the 2016 US presidential election. 

Durham has yet to formally submit interview requests but they are understood to be imminent as members of the agency ask why their work should be subjected to the critical scrutiny of a federal prosecutor with partisan loyalties.

CIA director Gina Haspel has told senior officials her agency will cooperate but will nevertheless work to protect key pieces of intelligence whose disclosure could jeopardise sources or compromise information gathering.

During the final weeks of the Obama administration, the intelligence community released a declassified assessment that concluded that Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign that "aspired to help" Trump’s electoral chances by damaging Hillary Clinton’s, a stance backed by the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency.

Others like former assistant US attorney Andrew McCarthy have suggested the Kremlin was more interested in sowing the seeds of chaos and destabilising matters than particularly influencing the outcome, hacking Democratic email servers and using social media bots to spread discontent.

In a letter to Congress this week, assistant attorney general Stephen Boyd wrote that while Barr has the power to declassify intelligence and asked intelligence agencies to preserve information and “ensure the availability of witnesses”.

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Those 2020 candidates are not the only ones calling for Trump's impeachment this morning.

George Conway, maverick husband of White House counsel Kellyanne, has written an op-ed for The Washington Post calling for his wife's boss to be impeached, saying that a brief filed by Trump lawyers with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to try and block a House Oversight Committee investigation presents "an argument for autocrats, not Americans" and stands as an "invitation to commence impeachment proceedings."

"It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office," he wrote of Monday's filing, saying it "takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president".

Going after Trump for "demonising" judges and attacking the press, Conway says: "Other leaders around the world may behave this way, but these are not proper actions of a president of the United States."

The piece, co-written with Obama-era acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, was written before the president's comments on accepting foreign tip-offs exploded, after which Conway had this to add:

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In Britain, Conservative Party leadership contender and home secretary Sajid Javid has said that Downing Street prevented him from attending the lavish state banquet held for the Trumps at Buckingham Palace last week despite cabinet colleagues being invited along to tuck into steamed halibut with the Queen.

Javid insisted he did not know why Theresa May's team had snubbed him on BBC Radio 4's Today programme but was quick to dismiss a suggestion it was because he is a Muslim and might therefore have been tempted to take the US president to task over his prejudicial travel ban or anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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