Donald Trumpbegan his week avidly tweeting along toFox Newsbefore jetting out for aNatosummit in London, as the Houseimpeachmentreport into his dealings withUkraineare set to be unveiled to members of Congress in advance of theJudiciary Committeestaging its first hearing of the inquiry on Wednesday.
The White House yesterday declined to be part of the midweek session, with lawyerPat Cipollonebranding the process a “baseless and highly partisan” attack on the president in a letter to Judiciary chairmanJerrold Nadler.
Republicans continued to defend Mr Trump on the Sunday talk shows, with the ranking GOP representative on the committeeDoug Collinscalling on inquiry figureheadAdam Schiffto testify and accusing him of “hiding behind the report ”.
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As he departed the White House for London, Mr Trump called the trip “one of the most important journeys that we make as president” and said Democrats had long known about it.
His trip to the UK comes amid ongoing quarrels over defense spending by NATO allies and widespread anxiety over the president’s commitment to the alliance.
The president said his trip would be focused on “fighting for the American people”. But in the more than two months that the impeachment inquiry has been underway, he has constantly drifted back to what he frames as the Democrats’ unfair effort to overturn the results of his 2016 election.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on the constitutional grounds for impeachment before Mr Trump wraps up at the NATO summit.
Mr Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mr Cipollone and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway all complained about the timing, with Mr Pompeo saying the hearings would “distract America’s president from his important mission overseas.”
Mr Trump insists he’s solely focused on scoring domestic and foreign policy wins, including revamping NATO so that allies spend more on defense. But he’s often appeared consumed by the day-to-day battle against impeachment.
In recent days he’s repeatedly lashed out about the “impeachment hoax” and the “scam” inquiry, even delving into impeachment at a ceremony to celebrate NCAA athletes and at last week’s annual Turkey pardon.
White House aides say the summit offers Mr Trump an opportunity to counter the impeachment narrative in Washington and demonstrate to voters that he’s keeping a business-as-usual approach while Democrats concentrate on the probe.
But soon after Air Force One departed, Mr Trump took to Twitter to slam “Do Nothing Democrats” for scheduling the hearing during the NATO meeting as “Not nice!” ”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Madrid for a UN conference on climate change, declined to comment about the impeachment inquiry, saying, “When we travel abroad, we don’t talk about the president in a negative way . We save that for home. ”
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House impeachment report to be unveiled to lawmakers
The House impeachment report into Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is set to be unveiled to members of Congress behind closed doors on Monday – the culmination of weeks of Intelligence Committee testimony – as the Judiciary Committee prepares to stage its first hearing of the inquiry on Wednesday.
The Democratic majority says the report will speak for itself in laying out what Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff has called the evidence of “wrongdoing and misconduct” by the president over his actions towards Kiev. It is being made available for committee members to review ahead of a vote on Tuesday to send it to the Judiciary Committee in time for the Wednesday’s landmark hearing.
As the impeachment inquiry intensifies, Wednesday’s hearing is expected to convene legal experts whose testimony, alongside the report from the Intelligence Committee, could lay the groundwork for possible articles of impeachment, which the panel is expected to soon Draw up.
As if you needed reminding, Democrats are focused on whether Trump abused his office by withholding $ (m) £ 302 m) in military aid approved by Congress as well as a White House meeting as he pressed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations into the p [resident’s domestic political rivals. The report is also expected to include evidence of possible obstruction of Congress by Trump’s instructions that officials in his administrationdefy subpoenas for documents or testimony.
The president maintains he did nothing wrong and, as the House presses forward on an ambitious schedule toward an impeachment vote, Trump and his Republican allies remain aligned against the process.
Here’s Alex Woodward on what to expect this week.
White House refuses to take part in ‘baseless and highly partisan’ Judiciary Committee hearing
The White House yesterday declined to be part of the midweek session, with lawyer Pat Cipollone branding the process a “baseless and highly partisan” attack on the president in a letter to Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler.
Trump’s aides responded defiantly to the first of two crucial deadlines he faces in Congress this week as Democrats prepare to shift the focus of their impeachment inquiry from fact-finding to the consideration of possible charges of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine. The Democratic-led Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges known as articles of impeachment, had given Trump until 6pm EST (11pm GMT) on Sunday evening to say whether he would dispatch a lawyer to take part in its proceedings on Wednesday.
“We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings,” Cipollone wrote to Nadler.
The White House counsel – while citing a “complete lack of due process and fundamental fairness afforded the president” in the impeachment process – did not rule out participation in further proceedings. But he signaled that Democrats would first have to make major procedural concessions.
Nadler has also given the White House a Friday deadline to say whether Trump will mount a defence in broader impeachment proceedings.
Democratic congressman Don Beyer said on Twitter in response to the White House letter: “Not one process complaint made by the president and his Republican allies in Congress so far has turned out to be genuine.”
The first in a series of expected Judiciary proceedings will hear testimony on the impeachment process established under the US Constitution from a panel of legal experts that has yet to be named.
Hearings before the committee, which has responsibility for crafting any formal charges against Trump, are a major step toward possible charges. Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will make the final decision, has not yet said whether the Republican president should be impeached. But in a letter to supporters last week, she called for him to be held accountable for his actions. Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a sham and a “witch hunt”.
“We may consider participating in future Judiciary Committee proceedings if you afford the administration the ability to do so meaningfully,” Cipollone wrote, laying out a list of demands, including allowing Trump’s Republicans to call additional witnesses.
Cipollone also complained that Democrats had scheduled Wednesday’s hearing – “no doubt purposely” – to overlap with Trump’s absence from the United States to attend a Nato summit in London.
The president and his Republican allies in Congress say the inquiry has been rushed and unfair to Trump by not allowing the White House to have legal counsel present or call witnesses during weeks of closed-door testimony and open hearings before the House Intelligence Committee. Republican lawmakers were able to question witnesses during the closed hearings, however, and called three witnesses during public hearings that wrapped up last week.
The House Judiciary Committee could vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment within the next two weeks, setting the stage for a possible impeachment vote by the full House before Christmas, according to Democratic aides.
If the House impeaches Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial to determine whether he should be removed from office. Senate Republicans have shown little appetite for removing Trump.
Ranking Judiciary Republican attempts to pressure Adam Schiff into giving testimony
Republicans continued to defend Trump on the Sunday talk shows, with the ranking GOP representative on the Judiciary Commitee Doug Collins calling on inquiry figurehead Adam Schiff to testify and accusing him of “hiding behind the report”.
“My first and foremost witness is Adam Schiff,” Collins said onFox News Sunday, also noting that Schiff had “compared himself in the past to a special counsel” and that then-special prosecutor Ken Starr testified during the GOP-controlled House’s impeachment of Bill Clinton.
“[Schiff] has put himself into that position, “Collins added. “If he chooses not to [testify], then I really have to question his veracity in what he’s putting in his report.”
“It’s easy to hide behind a report,” Collins continued. “But it’s going to be another thing to actually get up and have to answer questions.”
The Republicans have no power to compel Schiff to appear and the man himself has said “there’s nothing for me to testify about,” that he isn’t a “fact” witness and that Republicans are only trying to “mollify the president, and that’s not a good reason to try to call a member of Congress as a witness.”
Collins, speaking before the Cipolline letter was released, was asked by Chris Wallace about possible White House participation and took the opportunity to brand the whole impeachment exercise “a complete American waste of time right here”, a memorable turn of phrase.
GOP senator accused of pushing Russian smears in defense of Trump, denies being ‘duped’ by Vladimir Putin
Two other Republicans drawning attention to themselves in the defense of the president yesterday were Louisiana senator John Kennedy and California representative Tom McClintock.
Senator Kennedy – whohad to row back his claimthat Ukrainians, not Russians, hacked the 2016 election after his appearance onFox News Sundaylast week – was this time onMeet the Presswith Chuck Todd and said it again, this time adding that ex-Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had “actively worked for Hillary Clinton”.
Todd, utterly exasperated, gave the counter-argument raised by ex-national security council expert Dr Fiona Hillat the inquiryand countless other intelligence Specialist – that it was most definitely the Kremlin – and asked Kennedy whether he was “at all concerned you ‘ ve been duped “by Vladimir Putin.
His answer was a flat” no “, which is not the same as a denial that he was duped.
Professio nally folksy to the last, Kennedy also said the impeachment inquiry has been “as rigged as a carnival ring toss”.
On MSNBC, Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark wasted no time in accusing him of “peddling Russian propoganda on national television”.
Meanwhile, McClintock toldThis WeekTrump was guilty of nothing worse than not using “the delicate language of diplomacy” in his 25 July quid pro quo call with President Zelenksy.
It was all just “the blunt talk of a Manhattan business man “, said McClintock, which I guess is the foreign policy equivalent of“locker room talk”.
Here’s Andy Gregory with more.
Trump due in London for Nato summit
The president is jetting in to Stansted Airport this evening for the aforementioned Nato summit and is reportedly looking forward to meeting up with prime minister Boris Johnson – who was accused ofmodeling himself on Trumpat a general election debate on Sunday night – and called him in advance to express his condolenscenes over Friday’s London Bridge terror attack .
Trump is set to visit Buckingham Palace for a reception on Tuesday, before he joins world leaders in Watford the following day.
Nigel Farage tries – and comprehensively fails – to defend Trump’s ‘grab them by the p ****’ remark
In that same general election debate, Trump sycophant and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage attempted to defend the president’s notorious“grab them by the p ****”remark, declaring: “If all of us were caught out with what we said on a night out after a drink, none of us would be here. ”
” Is that what you do on a night out after a drink ? ” Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson countered with a raised eyebrow.
President Trump, it should be noted, is teetotal, so this already desperate defense of the indefensible doesn’t even hold water, let alone beer.
Here’s Jane Dalton with more.
Trump announces new tariffs on Brazilian, Argentinian metals as penalty for currency devaluation
Trump is up early, taking quotes in isolation from Fox on Twitter and announcing new steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina as a penalty for allegedly devaluing their currencies.
Here’s Ben Chapman’s story.
Republicans ‘absolutely disgusted and exhausted’ by Trump, says ex-GOP congressman
While the president still has a rogue’s gallery of defenders out there fighting the good fight for him, fromCollinsand (Kennedy) toFarage, one man who has had enough is ex-Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent, who has told CNN his fellow Republicans are “absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the president’s behavior”.
Steve Bullock drops out of (Democratic race)
Montana governor Steve Bullock has suspended his 2020 presidential campaign amid fundraising struggles and a repeated inability to qualify for the debate stage. He will not run for the Senate either.
Melania Trump unveils White House Christmas decorations
The first lady’s Christmas decorations have been unveiled and they’re much less scary than usual.
Noblood-red horror treesthis time, although the accompanying video casts her as something of a lonely figure, stalking around indoors with her coat on and no children or carol singers in sight.
It’s also by no means the worst Christmas content the family has put out so far this year …
Here’s Greg Evans for (Indy) .
Trump dennounced for hypocritical World AIDS Day tweet
The president yesterday tweeted this message in recognition of World AIDS Day …
… a presidential enough gesture, but one entirely undeserved given his administration’s heinous record on the subject.
In a joint statement issued by the Democratic National Committee’s chairman Tom Perez, its Disability Council chairman Tony Coelho and LGBTQ Caucus chairman Earl Fowlke, the tweet was denounced on the basis that Trump is “no ally of people living with HIV, who are disproportionately LGBTQ and people of color”.
“His administration has proposed cutting global HIV-prevention programs and attacked health care services that people living with HIV rely on, including the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood,” the trio stated.
Trump’s proposed 2020 budget would cut funding to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, established under George W Bush, by $ 1.. 35 BN (£ 1. 04 bn) – down 30 per cent on the previous budget’s funding for the program. The administration has also proposed massive cuts to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, the latter a program that helps low-income sufferers access housing.
“Cuts of this magnitude would result in countless new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths for a relatively small cost savings in the context of the federal budget, ”The Foundation for AIDS Research said in a statement in March after the 2020 budget request was first released.
Trump tweeting Fox lines on impeachment
The president is busy catching up with Maria Bartiromo, it seems.
Amy Klobuchar: Trump’s actions amount to a ‘global Watergate’
It’s a line she’s used before but it bears repeating.
Here’s my colleague Andrew Buncombe’s piece on the Minnesotan’s campaign.
Donald Trump Jr: ‘Political correctness will destroy western civilization’
Among the least helpful hot takes on the London Bridge terror attack on Friday – in which two members of the public were killed and three more injured by Islamist extremist Usman Khan, shot dead by police officers at the scene – comes courtesy of the president’s idiot son, who says political correctness is to blame for society’s ills.
Which, conveniently, is the theme of (Triggered) , his new book – out now!
New Pelosi meme shows House speaker delivering knock-out blow to Trump
“The memes matter”, pundit David Zurawik told Brian Stelter on CNN yesterday , after it emerged Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters hadbrandished postersof Trump photoshopped onto the body of Rocky Balboa in tribute to his signing legislation endorsing their cause last week to the fury of China.
Here’s Greg Evans forIndy 100with a great answer to the president’s delusional vanity tweet courtesy of Christine Pelosi, daughter of the House speaker.
(Newsweek) fires journalist who misreported Trump Thanksgiving scheduling
Reporter Jessica Kwong has been sacked by (Newsweek) for writing an article saying Trump’s Thanksgiving plans amounted to “tweeting, golfing and more”, not knowing at the time that he was actually heading to Afghanistan to meet the troops.
The White House went to elaborate lengths to conceal the visit, to be fair to Kwong, who quickly amended her article, but the president and his son delighted in calling out the news outlet on Twitter as yet more evidence of “fake news” at work:
Kwong’s was by no means the worst journalistic blunder of the weekend, however, as MSNBC was forced to apologize for using a picture of white nationalist Richard Spencer to illustrate a story about ex-Navy secretary Richard V Spencer,forced outby the administration after objecting to Trump pardoning war criminal Eddie Gallagher.
Public support for Trump will collapse with impeachment vote, warns presidential historian
Historian Doug Brinkley has told CNN he believes Trump’s fabled base will desert him if Congress votes to impeach him.
Responding to a recent impeachment poll, Brinkley toldNew Day: “It just tells you what deep trouble Donald Trump is in. I mean, when you have 50 per cent of the country wanting you not just impeached but removed from office, and the game hasn’t even gotten fast yet.
“I think once the vote is taken by Congress to impeach him and he’s wearing the ‘I’ on his chest , you’re going to see that movement grow even more. “
He continued: “It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of friends. He’s a base politician. He doesn’t know how to turn this around.”
Trump declares his own ‘breaking news’ event on Twitter
In the last hour, Trump has served up a few more choice quotes in his favor and declared a “breaking news” event, also very much in his favor. He says President Zelensky of Ukraine has declared he did nothing wrong and that: “If the Radical Left Democrats were sane, which they are not, it would be case over!”
Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page breaks silence on Trump’s ‘reprehensible’ attacks
Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who exchanged anti-Trump texts with colleague and lover Peter Strzok, has spoken out for the first time about the president’s “sickening” attacks on her.
Page has joined Twitter and said she is “done being quiet” about the furore which thrust her into a political storm two years ago and has made her a repeated target of the president’s ire – and morbid fascination (see the clip below from his rabid October rally in Minneapolis).
“ I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse, ”she toldThe Daily Beast. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back. ”
Here’s Chris Baynes’s report on her sudden re-emergence.