Trump news – live: President launches ‘impeachment defence force’ as White House prepares to release phone call transcript amid scramble to block process – The Independent

Trump news – live: President launches ‘impeachment defence force’ as White House prepares to release phone call transcript amid scramble to block process – The Independent


Wednesday 25 September 2019 11:30

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president ‘must be held accountable’ as she announced a formal impeachment inquiry last night

A formal impeachment inquiry has been launched by Congress as the scandal over Donald Trump‘s phone call with Ukraine‘s president deepened.

The president said on Tuesday night he had authorised the release of the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of his phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky in an attempt to calm the political storm.

Critics of the president have accused him of threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine to force an investigation into corruption allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

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One reason why Mr Trump has focused on attacking Joe Biden is because it has been widely-assumed that the former vice president will be his opponent in the 2020 election.

However, that is not a done deal.

Although Mr Biden is the clear front-runner in the Democratic primary, his lead is much less commanding than it was at the start of the race.

Politico’s Marc Caputo has some polling numbers that illustrate the problem.

In the states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, voters have been moving away from Mr Biden.

The former VP has lost 18 percentage points in both New Hampshire and South Carolina since May.

And in Florida, he has fallen by 15 percentage points.

Of course, polls are not always accurate and the Democratic race has a long way to go.

The general trend is clear though – Biden is still in the lead but his nomination is not certain at all.


If you are unsure about how Congress could impeach Mr Trump, this infographic explains the process for removing a president.

Picture: Statista


Here’s a reminder that Mr Trump’s problems extend beyond Ukraine…

Federal prosecutors have joined Mr Trump in asking a federal judge in New York to temporarily block a subpoena seeking the president’s tax returns, AP reports.

The prosecutors said Mr Trump has raised “weighty constitutional issues” in trying to stop the subpoena and they want to review them before deciding whether to join the legal battle.

“To the extent that enforcement of the subpoena may adversely affect federal interests of constitutional dimension, those effects could not be redressed after the fact,” the prosecutors said.

They are asking for a “short stay of the subpoena’s enforcement.”


Volodymyr Zelensky has finally commented on his phone call with Mr Trump.

Reuters has reported that the Ukrainian president joked to journalists in New York that only his six-year-old son could put pressure on him, in reference to the allegations that Mr Trump threatened the leader.

“Nobody can put pressure on me because I am the president of an independent state,” Mr Zelensky said.

“The only one person by the way who can put pressure on me … is my son, who is six years old.”


Here’s something to look out for today – Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky and Mr Trump are expected to meet face to face for the first time at the UN General Assembly later.

Mr Zelensky has avoided commenting on the controversy from the call so far and said on Tuesday that he expects a “very warm” meeting with the president.

A senior White House official has told Axios reporters that Mr Trump will congratulate Mr Zelensky on his election win and his “energy and success” on anti-corruption reform.


Although Mr Trump’s relationship with Ukraine has attracted attention this month, this story has been rumbling on for a while now.

Back in May this year, the president said it would be “appropriate” to talk to the attorney general about opening an investigation into Mr Biden.

However, as our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta explained at the time, the evidence for an investigation was weak.


How have Republicans reacted to the Democrats’ push for impeachment?

The official

Republican National Committee

account and

Mitch McConnell

, the Senate majority leader, have followed Mr Trump’s lead by portraying impeachment as a distraction by Democrats.

Meanwhile, Ronna McDaniel, the RNC’s chairwoman, has called on Mr Biden to release transcripts of his calls with Ukrainian and Chinese leaders while he was vice president.


Global stocks fell overnight after the announcement of an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump.

AP reports:

“Germany’s DAX sank 0.7 per cent to 12,224.29 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.9 per cent to 5,578.02.

“Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.6 per cent to 7,249.54. 

“Wall Street was also set for losses, with the future contracts for the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 down 0.2 per cent.”


This is how the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates reacted to the opening of a formal impeachment investigation:


Mr Trump has tried to turn attention onto the transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president but the whistleblower complaint may be more important for the impeachment inquiry.

Last night, the Senate unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the complaint to be released to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

As legal analyst Barb McQuade noted, the complaint could provide context to the phone call and give a better idea of the motives behind Mr Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine.


Here are some fiery tweets from Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former press secretary.

Mr Scaramucci has become one of Mr Trump’s most vocal critics since leaving the White House after a week-long stint as the director of communications.

He has been saying that the president’s days are numbered for a while now and last night, he claimed Mr Trump was “done”.


Mr Giuliani also got into a very heated argument with another guest on Ms Ingraham’s show later in the evening.


Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s lawyer, had an extraordinary interview on Fox News last night in which he showed Laura Ingraham a phone that he claimed proves he was sent by the State Department to Ukraine.

Mr Giuliani has argued that he only spoke to Ukrainian officials because the State Department asked him to.

The outburst appears to be a warning to Trump administration officials who may want to blame him for the scandal.


One of the big questions for Democrats today is this – do Americans support an impeachment investigation?

The good news for Ms Pelosi is they do, according to YouGov US, if Mr Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine in order to incentivise an investigation into Mr Biden and his son.

In that scenario, more than half (55 per cent) of Americans would back impeachment.

However, the president denies those allegations and it is not clear at this point if Democrats will be able to prove them.


The president has also put out a new set of Facebook ads to create an “impeachment defence task force“, according to journalist Judd Legum.

The adverts ask Mr Trump’s supporters to defend “AMERICAN GREATNESS” by donating money to his campaign.


It is going to be a busy day. After months of resistance, Nancy Pelosi has finally come out in favour of an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump, setting off an angry and erratic stream of tweets from the president.

To recap on what happened overnight…

Mr Trump announced he would release the transcript of his call with


in an attempt to prove he did not threaten the country’s president to investigate his main 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, the whistleblower who reported the call apparently wants to testify before Congress.


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

Mr Biden, who is also Mr Trump’s main 2020 election rival, spoke out against the president’s “abuse of power” last night and said if he refused to cooperate with the investigation, he would leave Congress with “no choice but to initiate impeachment”.

Anthony Scaramucci, Mr Trump’s former press secretary, has claimed it is “only a matter of time now” before the president is gone.

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