Donald Trump has lashed out at “stone cold CRAZY” Democrats in the House of Representatives, whom he accuses of “obstructing justice” and instigating “a big, fat, fishing expedition” to discredit him because the opposition is “desperately in search of a crime”.
The outburst comes after House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a new abuse of powers investigation into President Trump on Tuesday, requesting information from 81 members of his inner circle, including sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Trump Organisation CFO Allen Weisselberg and executive VP Matthew Calamari.
With six such enquiries currently underway into the Trump administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised voters, “We’ll fight him in the Congress, we’ll fight him in the courts and we’ll fight him in the court of public opinion… What he’s doing is wrong and the Republicans know it.”
Her party’s national emergency disapproval resolution meanwhile looks set to pass the Senate, a vote that would force Mr Trump’s first veto of his presidency.
The veto would be unlikely to be sustained in Congress, however, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying on Tuesday he believes the initial effort will be approved in his chamber but nothing more.
As the day progressed on Tuesday, Democrats showed signs that they will push forward with other priorities as well. Ms Pelosi, on a visit to Austin, Texas, indicated that the House is going to pass a voting rights bill that would significantly expand access ot the ballot in the US.
And, controversy continued to swirl on Tuesday around Mr Kushner’s White House security clearance, with Democrats vowing to take “next steps” in order to obtain documents related to that decision, and Mr Trump calling investigations into his administration a “shame”.
Hello and welcome to The Independent‘s rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.
Yesterday House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler launched a broad and aggressive new investigation into whether the president has abused the power of the Oval Office, issuing information requests to 81 members of Donald Trump’s inner circle.
Among those on the list were sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, political consultant Roger Stone (currently on trial for lying to Congress about his relationship with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election race), Trump Organisation chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and executive vice-president Matthew Calamari, the president’s long-serving personal assistant Rhona Graff and ex-White House counsel Don McGahn.
Other blasts from the past contacted include Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Hope Hicks.
They all have until 18 March to respond.
“Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,” said the New York congressman.
“Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Congress must provide a check on abuses of power. Equally, we must protect and respect the work of Special Counsel, but we cannot rely on others to do the investigative work for us.”
Trailing his investigation on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Mr Nadler told George Stephanopoulos: “We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption and into obstruction of justice… We will do everything we can to get that evidence.”
“It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice.”
Separate congressional probes are already swirling around the president, including an effort announced on Monday by three other House Democratic chairmen to obtain information about private conversations between him and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The State Department pledged to “work cooperatively with the committees”.
The new probes signal that now the Democrats hold a majority in the House, Mr Trump’s legal and political peril is nowhere near over, even as special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation winds down.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an angry response to the news on behalf of the president.
“Today, Chairman Nadler opened up a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the special counsel and committees in both chambers of Congress.
“Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of ‘Russia collusion’ is crumbling.
“Their intimidation and abuse of American citizens is shameful. Democrats are harassing the president to distract from their radical agenda of making America a socialist country, killing babies after they’re born, and pushing a ‘green new deal’ that would destroy jobs and bankrupt America.
“The American people deserve a Congress that works with the president to address serious issues like immigration, healthcare, and infrastructure.”
President Trump – who was the subject of a damning report by The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer yesterday into the unhealthy relationship between his administration and right-wing broadcaster Fox News – responded exactly as you might expect, by retweeting sympathetic coverage from… Fox News!
He also told reporters yesterday after Mr Nadler’s probe was first announced that “I cooperate all the time with everybody”, adding: “You know, the beautiful thing? No collusion. It’s all a hoax.”
Another Trump sympathiser, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, also appeared on This Week on Sunday to accuse Jerrold Nadler of prejudging the president.
“I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Listen to exactly what he said. He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman and then he says, ‘you’ve got to persuade people to get there.’ There’s nothing that the president did wrong.
“Show me where the president did anything to be impeached… Nadler is setting the framework now that the Democrats are not to believe the [FBI’s Robert] Mueller report. They’re now saying we have to do our own investigation. After you had hundreds of interviews, millions of dollars spent in the Senate and the House, they find no collusion,” he said.
Those thoughts were echoed by the most senior Republican on Mr Nadler’s committee, Georgia’s Doug Collins, who said his chairman was “recklessly prejudging the president for obstruction” and pursuing evidence to back up his conclusion.
But rather than pursuing dramatic impeachment proceedings, which could inspire a groundswell of sympathy for Mr Trump as embattled underdog, others are suggesting the House Democrats prefer to place him on trial before the public, picking apart his finances and behaviour in office through a series of committee investigations, six of which are already underway.
Axios journalist Mike Allen, for one, characterises this tactic as a “slow-bleed strategy”, suggesting the Democrats, emboldened after winning back the House during last November’s midterms, prefer the mechanisms of Congress as its means of exposing Mr Trump in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
“Democrats want to create a large, damning public record of testimony, documents and investigative reports,” he suggests.
For his part, Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin – a member of Mr Nadler’s panel – said, “impeachment is the end of the process, not the beginning”, warning against allowing the proceeding to become a “fetish” or a “taboo”.
Speaking of 2020, Hillary Clinton has said she will not run again against Donald Trump.
“I’m not running but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” the 71-year-old told New York’s News12 TV station.
“What’s at stake in our country, the kind of things that are happening right now are deeply troubling to me.”
Here’s Zamira Rahim.
Here’s Chris Riotta on someone who could well be President Trump’s opponent in 2020: California senator Kamala Harris.
Hilariously, it turns out both The Donald and Ivanka Trump donated thousands of dollars to the Democrat during her tenure as the state’s attorney-general and subsequent re-election campaign.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the emphasis of investigations into President Trump should be on his financial affairs rather than his relationship with Russia, which adulators can easily dismiss as conspiracy theorising.
“While he’s talking collusion, collusion, collusion… we should be talking about taxes, taxes, taxes, and his bank account, his bank account, his bank account. His financial statements, statements, statements,” she said.
Here’s Clark Mindock.
President Trump attacked Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments about the US-Israel relationship late last night, saying her words represent a “dark day” for the Middle Eastern country.
The Minnesota representative had criticised the influence of Israeli interest groups in Washington, claiming she was being asked to pledge “allegiance” to a foreign power, remarks that drew her into a Twitter row with fellow Democrat Nita Lowey, among others.
Here’s Tom Embury-Dennis with more on the controversy.
A little more on that damaging New Yorker piece yesterday, which alleges Fox News knew about the Stormy Daniels “hush-money” payment during the 2016 election but suppressed reporter Diane Falzone’s story with the words: “Good reporting kiddo. But Rupert [Murdoch] wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.”
And here’s Molly Jong-Fast on her experiences at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland this weekend, an event she says amounts to “listening to a smouldering ash heap of Trumpian shills who constitute what is left of the Republican Party”.
President Trump’s new attorney-general, William Barr, has said he will not recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel’s Russia probe after consulting with senior ethics officials, the Justice Department has said.
Mr Barr, recently sworn-in to replace Jeff Sessions, was advised against recusal from Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
“Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse,” Ms Kupec said in a statement.
During his confirmation hearing in January, Mr Barr sought to assuage concerns that he might disrupt or upend the Mueller investigation as it reaches its final stages.
Some Democrats had raised those concerns, citing a memo Mr Barr had sent to Justice Department and White House lawyers in which he criticised Mr Mueller’s probe for the way it was presumably looking into whether President Trump had obstructed justice.
Mr Barr downplayed the memo during his confirmation hearing, saying it was narrowly focused and shouldn’t be read that he has prejudged the investigation. He vowed during the hearing to consult with ethics officials about whether he should recuse himself, but told senators the decision would ultimately be his to make under Justice Department guidelines.
Former FBI director James Comey, whose firing is among the things being investigated by the special counsel’s office, said in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Monday that “providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has long been a part of Justice Department practice.”
“Every American should want a Justice Department guided first and always by the public interest,” Mr Comey wrote. “Sometimes transparency is not a hard call.”
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said he is hopeful Washington will send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks, after denuclearisation talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Vietnam last week ended with no agreement.
The leaders’ second summit in Hanoi collapsed without any agreement or immediate plan for a third summit, with Mr Trump suggesting his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee had been a distraction.
“I am hopeful, although I have no commitment yet, that we will be back at it, that I’ll have a team in Pyongyang in the next couple weeks,” Mr Pompeo told the Iowa Farm Bureau.
“I’m continuing to work to find those places where there’s a shared interest.”
Also on the international front, a bipartisan group of politicians have accused Donald Trump of failing to take “meaningful action” on China’s repressive policies towards the Uighur Muslim people of Xinjiang province.
Here’s Jon Sharman.
The president again served McDonald’s Big Macs to a team of elite athletes at the White House last night.
This time the North Dakota State Bison, celebrating their seventh national title in eight years, were the lucky recipients.
The Clemson Tigers were subjected to the same ordeal in January, when the choice of meal was attributed to the record-breaking government shutdown. This time?
“We could have had chefs, we could have, but we got fast food because you know what, I know you people very well,” Mr Trump said.
One name missing from the House Judiciary Committee’s round-up of the usual suspects is that of Ivanka Trump.
But chairman Jerrold Nadler has told Erin Burnett on CNN’s OutFront she could “quite conceivably” be hearing from his team as her brothers and husband have.
“I’m not going to answer why any particular person is or isn’t on it. We think that anybody on it has information of use to the committee in establishing things,” he said.
“She’s not on the initial list. That’s all we can say.”
He added that there are going to be more document requests and that “there may or may not be more people.”
Magnificently-mustachioed former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb has broken ranks to tell ABC News’s podcast The Investigation he considers FBI special counsel Robert Mueller “an American hero”.
“Even though he came from an, arguably, privileged background, he has a backbone of steel. He walked into a firefight in Vietnam to pull out one of his injured colleagues and was appropriately honored for that. I’ve known him for 30 years as a prosecutor and a friend. And I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy. But he’s also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person.”
“I don’t feel the investigation is a witch hunt,” he added, saying he believes Mr Mueller, “has already revealed the bulk of the findings that the investigation will produce through the sentencing memos and ‘speaking indictments’ issued against a group of 34 defendants that include Russian hackers and the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort”.
But Mr Cobb warned the president to buckle his seatbelt for a bumpy ride in Congress: “All these people are hell bent on issuing a lot of subpoenas to get to the administration and perpetuate this investigation.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Texas this morning and had some tough, even Churchillian words for reporters on the border wall and the president’s national emergency declaration.
“We’ll fight him in the Congress, we’ll fight him in the courts and we’ll fight him in the court of public opinion… What he’s doing is wrong and the Republicans know it,” she told CNN.
Meanwhile Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has given his forecast of the Democrats’ disapproval resolution, which will soon face the Senate after being voted through the House. The prognosis is not good for Mr T.
“I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president, and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House,” Mr McConnell said.
Those remarks were put to Ms Pelosi, who said: “Hopefully the president won’t veto it… Or maybe he’ll just withdraw it, as some of his Republican… the Republican senators are asking him to do because they know that it undermines the Constitution of the United States.”
“[He is] asking us to ignore the oath of office that we take to protect and defend the Constitution by this declaration,” she said.
Please allow a moment for our live blog to load
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
At The Independent, no one tells us what to write. That’s why, in an era of political lies and Brexit bias, more readers are turning to an independent source. Subscribe from just 15p a day for extra exclusives, events and ebooks – all with no ads.