Trump news – live: Justice Department’s retaliatory Russia probe ‘now a criminal inquiry’ as top White House aide threatens reporter – The Independent

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Trump news – live: Justice Department’s retaliatory Russia probe ‘now a criminal inquiry’ as top White House aide threatens reporter – The Independent

The US Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election hacking in 2016, instigated by Donald Trump’s attorney general William Barr and widely seen as a retaliatory measure to explore “deep state” liberal bias, is now “a criminal inquiry”, according to reports.

The president meanwhile finds himself under renewed pressure as lawyers for Summer Zervos, a former candidate on his reality show The Apprentice who has accused Mr Trump of sexual assault, say their client has evidence to corroborate her claim that he attacked her in a Los Angeles hotel room in 2007.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is also in trouble after threatening a Washington Examiner reporter who asked her about her husband, a frequent critic of President Trump, prompting the journalist in question to publish a transcript of their phone call.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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2019-10-25T10:30:00.000Z

In the ongoing court struggle for Trump’s tax returns, his attorneys said on Thursday they intend to take their fight with the House Oversight Committee to the Supreme Court.


Trump’s legal team asked the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit a three-judge panel’s decision earlier this month upholding the Oversight Committee’s demand for the president’s finances from his long-time accountants Mazars.

They also filed a separate motion saying they intend to “ask the Supreme Court to review whether the Mazars subpoena exceeds the Committee’s constitutional and statutory authority.” The president’s lawyers believe there’s a chance the Supreme Court will take up their petition so argued the appeals court should refrain from expediting last week’s order.


The court filings follow a separate case being fought this before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to stop Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance from getting hold of Trump papers from Mazars. 

The two sides in that dispute reached an agreement to fast-track questions over the president’s legal immunity to the Supreme Court, Trump lawyer

William Consovoy

having argued that

even if the president had shot someone in the street

, he would still have to be impeached and removed from office before he could face criminal charges.


The DC Circuit judges ruled earlier this month ruled two to one in favour of the House Oversight Committee, upholding a district judge ruling allowing its subpoena to go into force, only for the president’s team to appeal.


The House committee has recently aruged that the launching of the impeachment inquiry meant its case had grown added urgency.

 

“The committee is engaged in oversight activity to examine whether federal officials – including the president – are making decisions in the country’s best interest and not for their own financial gain,” its lawyers wrote in a motion.


“Further, the House is now engaged in an impeachment investigation against President Trump, which is advancing on an expedited basis, and information received in response to the Mazars subpoena could be highly relevant to that inquiry as well.”


2019-10-25T10:15:00.000Z

On the subject of vengeful Republicans making life difficult, influential South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham (memorablly described  as “a piece of s***” by Obama national security adviser Susan Rice this week, to his fury) yesterday introduced a Senate resolution denouncing the impeachment inquiry after a House equivalent tabled by minority leader Kevin McCarthy was swiftly shot down.

Would-be Trump GOP challenger Joe Walsh invoked the memory of Graham’s late friend and Arizona senator John McCain when he responded yesterday, saying if McCain were still alive “he’d be slapping Lindsey Graham upside the head”.

Here’s Clark Mindock’s report.


2019-10-25T10:00:00.000Z

The House of Representatives voted 227-181 in favour of the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (or SHIELD) Act, a measure that would require candidates to notify the FBI if they are approached by foreign powers offering dirt on campaign opponents or other meddling initiatives.

It also restricts political donations from foreign nationals and requires greater transparency from Facebook advertising.

“Most Americans know that foreign governments have no business interfering in our elections,” says Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House Administration Committee and was the bill’s chief sponsor. 

Incredibly – or not-so-incredibly with this administration – the White House has objected and threatened to veto it should it pass the Senate and reach Trump’s desk.

The bill’s “expansive definitions seem designed to instill a persistent fear among Americans engaged in political activity that any interactions they may have with a foreign national could put them in legal jeopardy,” it said in a statement.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has already vented her frustration about Republican opposition on Twitter after the likes of Illinois congressman Rodney Davis moaned it was not about making “real, legislative progress on preventing foreign interference in our elections” but about pusing “partisan politics for the Democratic agenda”.


2019-10-25T09:40:00.000Z

Trump continues to lash out at the CIA whistleblower whose complaint about his quid pro quo call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky of 25 July sparked the House impeachment inquiry, demanding to know where he or she is and labelling the matter: “A giant scam!”

But Democrats investigating the matter say the complainant’s testimony is no longer required, so juicy have the depostions been the panel has heard from diplomatic officals in its series of beind-closed-door interviews,

according to The Washington Post

.

Virginia Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly, who sits on the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, tells The Post:

I think it’s quite clear we have a surfeit of evidence that corroborates in full every aspect of what happened and the policy they were pursuing.

Trump and his fellow Republicans decrying the process have insisted on knowing the whistleblower’s identity, potentially imperilling their personal safety, but their lawyer, Mark Zaid, tells the newspaper who they are “is completely irrelevant as the complaint is now public and the primary actors at senior levels are being interviewed by members of the House from both political parties”.

A shame the White House

no longer subscribes

to either

The Post

or

The NYT

as you might think it would be worth their while to read this stuff. 


2019-10-25T09:25:00.000Z

White House counselor

Kellyanne Conway

is also in trouble after threatening

Washington Examiner

reporter

Caitlin Yilek

who asked her about her husband – DC lawyer

George Conway

, a frequent critic of President Trump who earlier this month wrote a

comprehensive long-read

for

The Atlantic

arguing he was unfit for office – prompting Yilek to publish a transcript of their phone call and

The Examiner

to run the audio.

Yilek had been attempting to follow up

Bloomberg

‘s

story

earlier this week

about Trump considering making the aide his new acting chief of staff in place of the

hapless Mick Mulvaney

and asked about Mr Conway in passing, prompting this angry response:

So, listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here. If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.

She continued:

You’re really going places. Let me tell you something, from a powerful woman. Don’t pull the crap where you’re trying to undercut another woman based on who she’s married to. He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around. And if these are the, quote, standards, unquote, at The Washington Examiner, then, yes, I’d be happy to talk to your editor. But I’ve known your editor since before you were born. 

Scary stuff from the woman who coined the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts”.

This was the response from Hugo Gurdon, the paper’s editor-in-chief:


2019-10-25T09:10:00.000Z

The president meanwhile finds himself under renewed pressure as lawyers for Summer Zervos, a former candidate on Trump’s reality show The Apprentice who has accused him of sexual assault, say their client has evidence to corroborate her claim the he attacked her in a hotel room in Los Angeles in 2007.

Zervos is just one of

a string of women

to accuse Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior, this of course being the same man who boasted of “grabbing women by the p****” in an

Access Hollywood

tape widely shared a month before his election win in 2016.

Earlier this month,

a new book

entitled 

All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator

, by Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy, promised 23 new allegations against him, its publication following on the heels of the

harrowing story E Jean Carroll

had to tell in June.


Trump has vociferously denied all of the assault allegations, including saying Carroll was “not his type”. Zervos sued Trump following his denial of her claims and, in March, an appellate court ruled that he could not prevent the suit from moving forward despite his lawyer’s argument that Trump’s current office put him above the law. 


Alex Woodward has this report.


2019-10-25T08:55:00.000Z

The US Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of FBI special counsel

Robert Mueller

’s probe into Russian election hacking in 2016, instigated by

Donald Trump

’s attorney general

William Barr

and widely seen as a retaliatory measure to explore “deep state” liberal bias, is now “a criminal inquiry”,

according to The New York Times

.

The change of status, upgrading the matter from an administrative review, empowers Connecticut state attorney John Durham to subpoena witnesses and documents and impanel a grand jury.

Durham has been examining whether the government’s intelligence collection efforts related to Trump associates were lawful and appropriate, essentially seeing the Justice Department investigate itself.


2019-10-25T08:45:00.000Z

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

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