Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1549579549

Trump-Russia news: President denounces Democrat investigations as his attorney general pick passes key Senate vote

Democrats in the House are newly empowered to lead investigations into the president after taking control of the chamber during the 2018 midterms

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 07 February 2019 22:26 GMT
Newly unearthed video shows Donald Trump ‘meeting with Russians in Moscow in 1995’ over 'building project'

Just days after Donald Trump criticised congressional Democrats for “ridiculous partisan investigations”, the president is facing a renewed Russia inquiry from Congress that has left him complaining about presidential harassment.

The president said as much in response to the announcement that Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee have re-opened their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, marking yet another official investigation into the issue that has dogged the White House for more than two years.

“So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian Collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so,” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

He continued: “Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment … The Dems and their committees are going ‘nuts.’ The Republicans never did this to President Obama, there would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing. Even stealing people who work at White House! A continuation of Witch Hunt!”

Democrats have indicated they plan on using their newly acquired congressional subpoena power to delve into Mr Trump’s political and personal world in a way that Republicans who previously controlled the committee before losing control of the chamber in the 2018 midterms shied away from.

The investigation will “allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration”, Mr Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, announcing the new probe.

Representative Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, meanwhile warned that his committee is considering forming acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to answer questions during testimony, and not just cite executive privilege.

Read this full report on the events of the day and week, here, or take a look below for our updates as they were posted, below

Please allow a moment for the liveblog to load


Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the developments coming this week regarding investigations into Mr Trump, his 2016 campaign, the Russian government, and any other actors or individuals who might get swept up in it along the way.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 15:38

One of the latest developments comes out of the House of Representatives, where Democrats are newly empowered after taking control of the chamber during the 2018 midterm elections.

Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Wednesday that his committee would go forward in spite of the president's criticism of "ridiculous partisan investigations" during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

“We’re going to do our jobs and the president needs to do his,” Mr Schiff said. “Our job involves making sure that the policy of the United States is being driven by the national interest, not by any financial entanglement, financial leverage or other form of compromise.”

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 16:00

Mr Trump this morning went after the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, and Mr Schiff in particular, on Thursday morning.

"So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian Collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so," Mr Trump tweeted. "Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment..."

The president has often claimed that no collusion has been found between his campaign and Russian state actors, and there is no public evidence so far to show that there was a conspiracy. Meanwhile, dozens of people have been charged by Mr Mueller's investigation in the nearly two years since it began.


Clark Mindock7 February 2019 16:20

The launch of the House Intelligence Committee investigation actually marks the second investigation by the committee, after Republicans ended their version in March of last year.

Republicans were often seen as less willing to investigate the issues in a way that could threaten Mr Trump, who is a president representing their party.

That previous probe was ended with Republicans saying that they had found no evidence of collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign — which Democrats at the time took issue with, saying the call was premature.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 16:40

One of the biggest potential threats to Mr Trump now that Mr Schiff and the Democrats are running the show in the House Intelligence Committee comes from their new ability to subpoena a wide variety of records related to the president.

And, while Republicans who previously controlled the investigation did not make headlines for their deployment of that power, Mr Schiff has indicated that he has some big plans for those powers.

That includes the translator who was present during Mr Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017, where the president reportedly took the notes from his translator. A subpoena like that would likely be met with swift legal action from the White House.

Mr Schiff and the Democrats have also reportedly considered a subpoena for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who has been cooperating with federal investigators and pleaded guilty last year to a pretty long list of crimes related to his work for the president. Among those crimes were major campaign finance violations related to a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election (which Cohen said he made at the behest of Mr Trump).

More recently, Cohen has indicated that he lied to Congress about ongoing talks with Russian sources about a proposed Trump real estate deal in Moscow. Cohen said that the talks actually extended much further into the 2016 presidential campaign than he or Mr Trump previously disclosed — which could raise any number of potential conflicts if the president were currying favour from a foreign government while running for America's highest office.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 17:00

Mr Trump's efforts to build in Moscow are among the closest watched aspects of the Russian investigation, as they show a financial incentive for the man who currently occupies the White House to cozy up to Russians.

The president and his business interests had wanted to start projects in Moscow since the 1980s, and those efforts lasted well into the 2016 campaign.

In January of 2016, for instance, Mr Trump's former attorney Cohen says that he contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson for help with the projects. He later asked for help to find land and financing for the deal.

Cohen has told the special counsel's office that those negotiations at least into June of that year, just a month or so before Mr Trump officially became the Republican Party's nominee. It is not clear when exactly the negotiations ended.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 17:20

With the launch of the freshly minted House Intelligence Committee comes a potential ally for the special counsel's office.

The committee voted this week to release transcripts from its investigation to the special counsel's office, which could have big implications for anyone who testified before the congressional panel and that office.

Why? Well, the special counsel's office could potentially use those transcripts to prosecute individuals for perjury, if that applies. And, true to the special counsel's general strategy we have seen so far, that could just add more pressure to Trump world if more indictments follow (not to mention if more people start cooperating with the Mueller probe).

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 17:40

A recent development in the increasingly complicated web of Trump-Russia interests has come from a Ukrainian-Russian businessman who said he and Mr Trump engaged in talks in 2006 to use the Trump name on a development in Russia for $20m.

The developer, Pavel Fuks, recently told Bloomberg News that he met with members of the Trump family to discuss that deal.

More recently Mr Fuks said he travelled to the US in order to get a meeting with Mr Trump in 2016, or to attend an inaugural event for the then incoming president. He was hoping to leverage past family and business connections.

Mr Mueller's probe is reportedly taking a look into the presence of Ukrainian agents at those inaugural events, but Mr Fuks appears to not have been able to get an invite.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 18:00

Several news reports have indicated that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe is winding down (and, to be fair, they have been saying so for a while now), but a recent subpoena from federal prosecutors this week could mean that the president's legal woes are not going anywhere soon.

That subpoena came on Monday, and asked for a long list of records related to the president's inaugural committee, which raised record levels of cash to fund the festivities surrounding Mr Trump's swearing in.

That subpoena came from the US Southern District of New York, which is generally understood to be looking into potential campaign finance violations. Of particular interest in the documents subpoenaed is whether foreign individuals managed to donate to the Trump inaugural fund — which would violate US federal law.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 18:20

The man who would oversee the special counsel investigation probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, William Barr, has passed a key Senate vote just now.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved Mr Barr, who previously served as attorney general during the administration of President George HW Bush.

Questions have swirled about how Mr Barr — a widely respected lawyer in Washington — might handle the Russia investigation. For his part, he has assured senators that he does not have any intention to dismantle the investigation that has caused headaches in the White House.

His nomination now goes before the full Senate.

Clark Mindock7 February 2019 18:29

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in