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Trump news – live: Pelosi warns of impeachment 'cover-up' as Democratic candidates prepare for debate clash

Donald Trump has been accused of “engaging in hate speech against an entire religion” after retweeting a meme of senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in Muslim dress as press secretary Stephanie Grisham explained he posted it to attack the opposition for “almost taking the side of terrorists” in the Iran crisis.

A US cybersecurity firm has meanwhile alleged that Russian military agents successfully hacked Ukrainian gas company Burisma - at the heart of the impeachment inquiry over its ties to Hunter Biden, son of Mr Trump’s leading 2020 opponent Joe Biden - suggesting it attempted to steal emails with a view to again influencing an American presidential election.

On impeachment, Republicans in the Senate appear to be backing down from the idea of dismissing the two articles against the president outright after admitting they do not have the votes to see through such a controversial move.

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Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy told Fox that the timing of the impeachment articles is meant to hurt Bernie Sanders, who the president has attacked with some frequency as the Democratic presidential nominee gains momentum in the polls ahead of Iowa.

Republicans are calling for Joe Biden to pause his campaign as Trump's impeachment trial begins.

Nancy Pelosi's chief of staff responded, saying: "Impeachment has nothing to do with politics or the presidential race. As usual, the Minority Leader has no idea what he’s talking about."

From The Independent's man in Washington, Andrew Feinberg reports that Donald Trump has limited his public face,  despite appearances, and he's tweeting more than ever as his impeachment trial approaches:

As the third presidential impeachment trial in American history looms, it may seem like the president is a ubiquitous presence on the national and world stages. 

His tweets still generate news coverage, he can still singlehandedly move world events by ordering military actions, and his every utterance is still broadcast to the world and carefully transcribed, parsed, and analysed by a dedicated coterie of journalists. 

But as the House is poised to trigger the start of Mr Trump's trial by voting to send its two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump to the Senate, data obtained by The Independent strongly suggests the president has — with limited exceptions — largely retreated from public view since Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry on September 24.


Democrats are demanding the Trump administration end its delay in sending billions of recovery funds to Puerto Rico as wave after wave of earthquakes and tremors have devastated the island. 

Letters to White House say it's 'unconscionable' for island to wait for funds after catastrophic events

Pelosi: Senate trial will be seen as 'pure political cover up' without witnesses and evidence

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that a Senate impeachment trial will amount to "pure political coverup" and that Senators "will be held accountable" if no witnesses or evidence are introduced.

In a statement, she said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the president "are afraid of more facts coming to light."

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial," she said.

The House will vote on transmitting impeachment articles and appointing managers to the Senate on Wednesday.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he wants to ensure a focus on the "stunning" abuse of power charge against the president.

He said: "The Senate should conduct a fair trial. A fair trial includes witnesses and documents. What is the president hiding from the American people?"

Congressman Jeffries called for Senate testimonies from Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton.

Tiffany Trump commissions portrait of herself in crystals that looks nothing like her whatsoever

Well this is very entertaining indeed.


House Judiciary Committee announces investigation into Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy

Chairman Jerry Nadler and congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, have just announced their panel will the start an investigation into how the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" anti-immigration measure at the border "has morphed into a policy whereby refugees and asylum seekers are being kept in Mexico indefinitely and without due process or access to counsel."

The pair have written the following letter to acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf demanding answers.

Joe Biden: 'Why are you so obsessed with me, Mr President?'

The Democratic frontrunner is using Trump's own words against him in his new campaign spot.

Meanwhile, ahead of tonight's latest Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders is going after Biden himself (albeit in relatively moderate language).

White House spokesman says Democrats 'more upset at Vince Vaughn exchange than Soleimani killing innocent citizens'

Fox has been making much of the "liberal outrage" against the Hollywood actor this morning after he was spotted shaking hands with Trump at the game last night, with White House spokesman Hogan Gidley taking the biscuit by complaining that Democrats are more upset about the president sharing "a few kind words" with Vaughn than they were about the threat posed by Qassem Solemani.
   The trouble is, the "outrage" they cite is proving hard to substantiate...


White House to offer further intel on Iran crisis to senators following 'worst briefing ever'

After Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee angrily complained about last week's update on the Tehran tensions, saying they felt "insulted" and had been told nothing other than not to criticise Trump, the White House is going to have another crack at it tomorrow.

Trump pastor advised suicidal LGBT+ teen to simply 'change sexuality'

The president has recently sought fresh endorsement from controversial Texas pastor Robert Jeffress as he seeks to shore up the Christian vote this election year.

Jeffress delivered the president's inauguration prayer but has said many nasty and inflammatory things over the years, labelling Islam "evil" and a heresy "from the pit of hell" and accusing Barack Obama of "paving the way" for the antichrist. More recently, Trump quoted his prophesy that the US would suffer a "Civil War-like fracture" if he were to be impeached.

A disturbing passage from Jeffress's 2004 book Hell? Yeah has newly come to light in which the evangelist has some appalling advice for an LGBT+ teen struggling with her sexuality.

Greg Evans has more for Indy100.

US stops listing China as a currency manipulator, raising hopes of end to trade war

Trump’s administration has ceased classifying China as a currency manipulator ahead of the signing of a long-awaited trade deal between the world’s two largest economies this week.

As senior Chinese officials arrived in Washington on Monday to sign the "phase one" agreement, US Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin announced a significant concession to Beijing, reversing a decision made on Trump’s orders in August.

The US president has railed against China for years, claiming it artificially lowers the value of the renminbi in order to make its exports cheaper, harming American industry in the process. Beijing has consistently denied the charge.

“China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

Here's our business correspondent Ben Chapman's report.


House to vote on sending articles of impeachment to Senate on Wednesday, says Pelosi

That's the word coming out of the aforementioned Democratic caucus meeting this morning, although the speaker is still yet to name her impeachment managers.

Here's Chris Riotta's story.

Jerry Nadler: 'New evidence can certainly be admitted' at Senate impeachment trial

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler has been speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill this morning en route to a caucus meeting and told CNN's Manu Raju he he "would expect" to be named by Speaker Pelosi as one of the Democratic Party's impeachment managers in Trump's upcoming Senate trial but has heard nothing concrete so far.

He also believes new evidence should be perfectly admissable, McConnell permitting:

Democrat warns Iran intelligence 'corrupted' under Trump

"I'm very concerned our intelligence community in this case, with [CIA director] Gina Haspel at the top, is bending their presentations rather than giving us a full straight-out accountability of the facts," he says on New Day.


'Mitch McConnell, your impeachment "trial" isn't a trial at all'

For Indy Voices, attorney Ashlie Weeks takes apart the Senate majority leader's plot to speedily acquit Trump without allowing for new witnesses to heard or fresh evidence considered.

Elizabeth Warren claims Bernie Sanders told her female candidate could not beat Trump in 2020 election

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has claimed fellow Democratic 2020 runner Bernie Sanders told her that he did not believe a woman could defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box in a dramatic escalation of the growing split between the two progressive candidates.

"Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate," she said of the December 2018 meeting. "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.”

Sanders has since denounced the report as "ludicrous".

Here's Conrad Duncan's report.

Potential Trump impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitz makes unbelievably spurious defence of president on Fox

Another man talking his way out of defending Trump in the Senate is Alan Dershowitz - already a difficult proposition due to his unsavouy ties to the late Jeffrey Epstein - who argued on Fox last night that obstruction of Congress was not a high crime or misdemeanour (?) and that the president had merely been executing the seperation of powers "in an entirely proper way" by, er, refusing to co-operate with a congressional investigation into his attempts to extort a political favour from a foreign power.


Rudy Giuliani 'lobbying to join Trump's impeachment defence team'

The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has reportedly been lobbying the White House to include him as part of Trump's impeachment defence team on the Senate floor, according to The Huffington Post.

The former New York mayor, once a federal prosecutor, is himself deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal, having twice travelled to Kiev to dig up dirt for his boss's benefit and played a key role in instigating the removal of US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch last May.

He has consistently proven himself to be a liability in media appearances defending Trump, delivering eccentric performances and erratic leaps of logic, most recently when he appeared with Jeanine Pirro on Fox over the weekend and argued that the Supreme Court could have the power to throw out the articles of impeachment.

“I’d try the case. I’d love to try the case,” Giuliani told reporters at Trump’s black tie New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. "I don’t know if anybody would have the courage to give me the case. But if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case."

The defence is expected to be handled by White House counsel Pat Cipollone plus Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow, Pat Philbin and Mike Purpura, with other names being banded about, including ex-South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy.

But not Rudy, it seems.

"The president is never going to have him in the Senate trial, starting with the problem that he's a potential witness," one source close to Trump told CNN.

Trump planning to divert additional $7.2bn from Pentagon to border wall

The White House is about to shift an additional $7.2bn (£5.5bn) in funding from the Pentagon to pay for Trump's border wall, according to The Washington Post, with the money coming from counter drug trafficking measures and military construction projects.

That's enough to build 880 more miles of the sucker, a process that will take until 2022 to realise and sees the president expressing confidence in his re-election to a second term.

Remember when he was going to get Mexico to pay for this?

The news follows hot on the heels of this appeals court win last week...