President Donald Trump: ‘set for June state visit to UK’

Buckingham Palace is expected to announce on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump will make a state visit to the UK in early June.

The president was promised the visit by Prime Minister Theresa May after he was elected in 2016 – but no date was set.

Downing Street did not comment on the matter when contacted by the BBC.

President Trump and the first lady, Melania, visited the UK in July 2018 for a two-day working visit.

During the 2018 trip, the president met Mrs May at Chequers and the Queen at Windsor Castle before heading to Scotland, where he owns the Turnberry golf course.

The president’s last trip to the UK was marked by demonstrations around the UK.

In London, thousands of protestors took to the streets to voice their concerns about the visit.

And in Scotland, people showed their displeasure both in Edinburgh and at Turnberry.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council estimated that the police operation for the president’s 2018 visit cost nearly £18m.

It said 10,000 officers from across the country were needed to cover the occasion.


What is a state visit?

Queen Elizabeth II and US President Barack Obama during a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace on 24 May 2011
The Queen welcomed President Barack Obama to Buckingham Palace in 2011

A state visit is a formal visit by a head of state and is normally at the invitation of the Queen, who acts on advice from the government.

State visits are grand occasions, but they are not just ceremonial affairs. They have political purpose and are used by the government of the day to further what it sees as Britain’s national interests.

Once the location and dates are confirmed, the government, the visiting government and the royal household will agree on a detailed schedule.

So what is involved?

The Queen acts as the official host for the duration of the trip, and visitors usually stay at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

There is usually a state banquet, and a visit to – and speeches at – the Houses of Parliament may be included. The Speaker of the House of Commons is one of three “key holders” to Westminster Hall, and as such, effectively holds a veto over who addresses Parliament.

The Queen usually receives one or two heads of state a year. She has hosted 109 state visits since becoming monarch in 1952.

The official website of the Queen and the Royal Family has a full list of all state visits since then, including details of how the ceremonies unfold.

Herman Cain withdraws bid for Federal Reserve seat

Herman Cain made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012

Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain withdrew his name for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, US President Donald Trump has tweeted.

The president said he would respect the former pizza chain executive’s wishes and not pursue Mr Cain’s nomination to join America’s central bank.

“My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him”, Mr Trump wrote.

Mr Trump first announced he intended to nominate Mr Cain earlier this month.

Though the president did not formally nominate Mr Cain to the seven-member board, the announcement prompted backlash among Democrats and some Republicans in Congress.

It is unclear why Mr Cain withdrew his name for consideration.

The president has been accused of putting forward political loyalists to the Fed.

Arguably the world’s most influential bank, it is traditionally an independent body.

The president is a fierce critic of the central bank, and has also often called for lower interest rates – his predecessors have largely refrained from trying to sway monetary policy.

Mr Cain would have required almost total Republican support in the Senate to be confirmed. As of last week, four of 53 Republican senators announced they plan to vote against him.

Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer all indicated they would vote no on the nomination.

Mr Cain, a former executive of Godfather’s Pizza, made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but dropped out amid allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.

He is often remembered for his 9-9-9 tax reform plan during his campaign, and this viral campaign video by an adviser.

He served as the chairman of the Kansas City Federal Bank from 1989 to 1991.

Mueller report: Trump ‘tried to get special counsel fired’

Trump on Mueller report: “This should never happen to another president again”

US President Donald Trump tried to get the man appointed to investigate his links to Russia fired, a long-awaited report has revealed.

Details are starting to emerge about the 448-page redacted document, collated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which has just been published.

Mr Trump’s legal team earlier described the report as a “total victory”.

It comes as the country’s top lawyer, William Barr, faces heavy criticism of his handling of the report’s release.

Mr Mueller’s report says he found no criminal conspiracy between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia, but could not reach a concrete legal conclusion on obstruction allegations.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.

“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

What does the report reveal?

The report says that in June 2017, Mr Trump called Don McGahn – then a White House lawyer – to try to get Mr Mueller removed over alleged “conflicts of interest”.

US Attorney General William Barr on Mueller report findings

Mr McGahn told the special counsel he resigned after feeling “trapped because he did not plan to follow the President’s directive” and would not have known what to say to Mr Trump had he called again.

The report also reveals:

  • Mr Trump reportedly used an expletive when the investigation was announced, adding: “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency”
  • Mr Mueller examined 10 actions by the president in regards to obstruction of justice
  • Investigators viewed the president’s written responses to their questions as “inadequate” but chose not to pursue a potentially lengthy legal battle to interview him
  • Mr Trump dictated a misleading response as to what the June 2016 meeting between Russian intermediaries and Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower was about – this had earlier been denied by Mr Trump’s lawyer and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders
  • The special counsel considered charging the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and son-in-law Jared Kushner in regards to that meeting, but did not think they could meet the Department of Justice’s burden of proof

The mammoth document is the product of a 22-month investigation by Mr Mueller – who was appointed to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

His team’s investigation has led to 35 people being charged, including several who were a part of the president’s campaign and administration.

How has Mr Trump reacted?

Speaking at an event for veterans, Mr Trump said he was having a “good day” – adding that there was “no collusion” and “no obstruction”.

Representatives for the president have also reiterated his view that the investigation was a “hoax” and called for reprisal inquiries.

“President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again,” Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.

“Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.”

His comments followed a stream of social media posts by the president on Thursday regarding the report’s release.

Senior Democrats are calling on Mr Mueller to testify to them directly in order to “restore public trust” after what they described as Mr Barr’s “partisan behaviour” regarding the report.

How are the Democrats responding?

The attorney general, who was appointed by Mr Trump, held a news conference before the report was made public in which he backed the president.

His actions have provoked top Democrats to publicly question his impartiality and independence.

Mueller report: Trump 'tried to get special counsel fired'
Democrat Jerry Nadler accuses the attorney general of “waging a media campaign” for Trump

Representative Jerry Nadler confirmed that the House Committee on the Judiciary had already issued an invitation to the special counsel to appear “as soon as possible”.

“We cannot take Attorney General Barr’s word for it. We must read the full Mueller report, and the underlying evidence,” he said in a tweet.

“This is about transparency and ensuring accountability.”

William Barr was chosen by Donald Trump to be US attorney general

Mueller report: Barr accused of helping Donald Trump ahead of release

The US attorney general has been accused of “waging a media campaign” for President Donald Trump ahead of the Mueller report’s long-awaited release.

Democrat Jerry Nadler described William Barr’s plans to hold a news conference before the report was sent to Congress as “unnecessary and inappropriate”.

The 400-page report is the result of an investigation into alleged Russian interference during the 2016 election.

A summary, released by Mr Barr, reveals it clears Mr Trump of any collusion.

However, it does not go as far as to completely exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.

Both Mr Trump’s supporters and detractors are now eagerly awaiting the full – albeit redacted – report’s release.

It will be sent to Congress between 11:00 and midday local time (15:00 GMT and 16:00 GMT). Mr Barr is due to hold a news conference at 09:30.

What is the Mueller report?

The report contains the findings of a 22-month investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign back in 2016.

It was led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was chosen to run the investigation in 2017 following concerns from US intelligence agencies that Russia had tried to tip the election in Mr Trump’s favour.

He also looked into whether Mr Trump obstructed justice when he asked for the inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn to end, and later fired FBI chief James Comey.

Mr Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia – one of six former Trump aides and 30 other people, including 12 Russians, charged in connection with the investigation.

What do we know already?

So far all the public have seen of the report is the four-page summary released by US Attorney General Barr.

It contained Mr Mueller’s main conclusions. The first, that Mr Trump did not collude with Russia during the 2016 campaign, and the second, that he did not completely exonerate him of the charge of obstructing justice.

Exactly what this means is what many hope to discover with the release of the report on Thursday.

But it may not be that easy to ascertain. The report has been redacted, with a colour-code indicating the reasons why.

As a result, according to the BBC, “it might look more like a colouring book than a report.

How has President Trump reacted?

Mr Trump and his supporters immediately jumped on the fact that no collusion was found.

“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” the president told a cheering crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last month.

Mueller report: One summary, two interpretations

The Republican president has repeatedly described the investigation as “a witch hunt”.

However, he has not addressed the fact that the report does not completely clear him of the allegation of obstructing justice.

What do his opponents say?

Leading Democrats have called for the Mueller report to be published in full, and pledged to make use of the party’s majority control of committees in the House of Representatives to continue investigating the president.

They have also raised concerns over Mr Barr’s handling of the report since Mr Mueller’s team handed it to the Justice Department.

“Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the Attorney General has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation,” Mr Nadler, who is the House Judiciary Committee chairman, told reporters on Wednesday.

Trump-Mueller report – ‘Paranoia’ among White House aides fearing backlash by president as world awaits release

Attorney general to hold press conference ahead of redacted 400-page report being sent to Congress

Donald Trump, the US political class and much of the world is waiting with baited breath ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller ‘s long-awaited report on Russia’s role in the 2016 US election. 

Its disclosure will provide the first public look at the findings into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, and whether the president obstructed justice. 

Jerry Nadler, the House judiciary chairman, hastily convened a press conference last night to accuse the attorney general of taking “unprecedented” steps to spin Robert Mueller’s report in favour of Donald Trump.  “The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump,” Mr Nadler told reporters in New York.
“Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.”  The New York Times, which cited people with knowledge of the discussions, said the conversations had helped the president’s legal team prepare for the release of the report and strategise for the public relations and political battles that are certain to follow. The Justice Department declined to comment on the New York Times report. Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
When Mueller’s report is released, close attention will be given not only to potential new details on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and the question of whether the Republican president acted to impede the inquiry, but also on how much Mr Barr elects to withhold.

Donald Trump was curiously quiet on Twitter on Wednesday evening. He only tweeted once, sharing an article by far right news outlet Breitbart which highlighted a poll in which 38% of respondents believed the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. 

In adjacent – but utterly astonishing – news, Ivanka Trump has revealed her father asked her to head up the World Bank. She says she turned it down because she is “happy with the work” she’s doing.

Donald Trump has suggested he may hold a press conference of his own in a bid to shape the narrative of the Mueller report’s release.  He said last night “a lot of strong things” would come out today. “Attorney general Barr is going to be doing a press conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see,” he told WMAL radio.  

Five senior House Democrats are calling on William Barr to cancel his press conference ahead of the release of the Mueller report.  This is what they said in a statement: “The Department of Justice announced today that the Attorney General will hold a press conference tomorrow morning before Congress has even seen Special Counsel Mueller’s report. This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it.
“In addition, we understand from press reports that the Department of Justice has had ‘numerous conversations’ with lawyers from the White House about the report, which ‘have aided the President’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report.’ There is no legitimate reason for the Department to brief the White House prior to providing Congress a copy of the report.
“These new actions by the Attorney General reinforce our concern that he is acting to protect President Trump. The Attorney General previously stated, ‘I do not believe it would be in the public’s interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion.’ We agree.
“He should let the full report speak for itself. The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.”

Jerry Nadler, chair of the House judiciary committee, has hit out at the Justice Department’s decision to brief the White House on the findings of the Mueller report ahead of its release, and the fact the report will not be released until after the attorney general has held a press conference. 

Similarly, White House officials are reportedly suffering “breakdown-level” anxiety over whether the Mueller report will expose them as a source of damaging information about Donald Trump. 
More than a dozen current and former administration personnel cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia, according to NBC News.

The New York Times reports the Justice Department has had a number of conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Robert Mueller. The discussions have reportedly helped the president’s legal team prepare a rebuttal of the report.  The newspaper says “paranoia” was taking hold among some Trump aides, with a number fearing more a backlash by the president than the findings themselves.

Donald Trump has in recent days ramped up his attacks on those involved in the probe, in a likely sign the president is concerned over what the report reveals to the public about his alleged obstruction, and his campaign’s links to Russia.
On Wednesday evening, Mr Trump said “a lot of strong things” would come out today, and suggested he may hold a press conference of his own – a sign the White House intends to go on the attack from the outset.
“You’ll see a lot of strong things come out tomorrow,” Mr Trump told Washington’s WMAL radio. “Attorney general Barr is going to be doing a press conference. Maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see”.

The full Mueller report is here at last – so what’s next?

Finally. At last. The day has come. The Mueller report. It is here

And for all the hype, the expectation that Washington and cable news specialises in, on the one to 10 scale where one is a barely audible whimper and 10 is the eruption of a Krakatoan volcano, this is almost certainly going to be at the lower decibel end.

Why do I say that? Because the Attorney general, Bill Barr, blew any cliff-hanger season finale moment with his four-page letter summarising the findings.

On collusion with Russia, there was none. On whether the president obstructed justice, the Mueller report was more equivocal.

And that is fascinating and why we shouldn’t just roll over and go back to sleep.

Donald Trump has made clear what he thinks it amounts to: “Total exoneration.”

But the one sentence of the report that was released in the attorney general’s summary is far more tantalising.

Mueller wrote: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it does not exonerate him.” And what that amounts to is going to engulf debate once this report lands.

Barr and Mueller

Jonathan Turley is the incredibly well plugged in professor of law at George Washington University.

“Critics of Trump will come in and they will look specifically at obstruction and find a lot of material there, of conduct that may not be indictable but certainly could be contemptible, or even impeachable.

“For Trump supporters they will look at the collusion section and say ‘that’s what started all this and they found nothing, and this whole narrative proved to be false.'”

The frustrating part about when we eventually get our hands on the report will be how much of it is redacted.

Helpfully the excisions will be colour-coded. One colour if it is intel too sensitive for public consumption; another if it is material being considered by a grand jury; another still if it is criticism of a third party who hasn’t been indicted.

In other words it might look more like a colouring book than a report.

So should we expect Democrats to create a hue and cry? Back to my one is a whimper and 10 is volcanic scale, I think they will be around the seven to eight mark.

Already Democratic party-controlled committees in the House of Representatives are issuing subpoenas to get access to all sorts of information.

They will reject the ‘there’s nothing to see here, just keep moving along the sidewalk, ladies and gentlemen’ – Donald Trump’s opponents will insist there are questions to be answered.

But out on the stump across the country it feels different – remember in the US you are never far away from an election.

At the moment there is a heap of Democratic hopefuls hurtling around the country honing messages for 2020. They are debating jobs, the environment, taxes, health, immigration. But Mueller? Not so much.

Nancy Pelosi, the strategically astute Speaker of the House, said this on a trip to Europe this week:

“People are concerned about their kitchen table issues: are they going to be able to pay the bills. So I have not been one of these focusers on impeachment and reports and the rest of that, let the chips fall where they may when we have the evidence and the facts.”

Now this needs decoding a bit.

Nancy Pelosi

She’s not giving the president a clean bill of health. What she’s saying is the last thing Democrats need is a messy and almost certainly futile attempt at impeachment; much better to have a president who is wounded and weakened by Mueller.

One other thing: Timing. It’s the day before Good Friday. It is Spring Break. American schoolchildren are on holiday. Some families are at the beach. In the national parks. Enjoying Easter.

And on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are never more than a few yards from a microphone, they’re in recess.

It’s no accident that the Justice Department is releasing the Mueller report today.

US President Donald Trump has issued the second veto of his presidency, overriding a congressional resolution directing him to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen AFP/File

Trump vetoes bill to end US support for Saudi-led Yemen war

President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution from Congress directing him to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the second such move of his presidency.

The resolution was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a president’s war-making powers — a step the president condemned in a statement announcing his veto.

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said.

Vetoing the measure is an “effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to continue,” said International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband.

“This veto by President Trump is morally wrong and strategically wrongheaded. It sets back the hopes for respite for the Yemeni people, and leaves the US upholding a failed strategy.

“Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure.”

The veto was the second of his presidency, after he overrode a congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March.

Trump argued that US support for the bloody war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-aligned Huthi rebels was necessary for a variety of reasons, “

“first and foremost” to “protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries.”

These countries “have been subject to Huthi attacks from Yemen,” he said, referring to drone and missile strikes the Saudi-led coalition has either claimed were intercepted or denied altogether.

The president also said the resolution would “harm the foreign policy of the United States” and “harm our bilateral relationships.”

– War crimes –

And it would “negatively affect our ongoing efforts to prevent civilian casualties and prevent the spread of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, and embolden Iran’s malign activities in Yemen,” Trump said, referring to two Sunni Muslim militant groups and his Shiite bete noire.

The resolution, which passed the US House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate in March, was a historic milestone, as it was the first time in history that a measure invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution reached the president’s desk.

It was a reminder that Congress has the legal ability to compel the removal of US military forces, absent a formal declaration of war.

Democrats argued that US involvement in the Yemen conflict — through intelligence-sharing, logistical support, the sale of military equipment and now-discontinued aerial refueling — is unconstitutional without congressional authority.

Critics of the intervention warn that Saudi forces are likely using US weapons to commit atrocities in the four-year war.

Some 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen over the past four years, according to the World Health Organization, although rights groups say the toll could be five times higher.

Both the Saudi-led alliance and Huthi rebels have been accused of acts that could amount to war crimes, while the coalition has been blacklisted by the United Nations for killing and maiming children.

Trump vetoes bill ending US support for Yemen war

The resolution was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a president’s war-making powers — a step the president condemned in a statement announcing his veto.

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said.

Vetoing the measure is an “effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to continue,” said International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband.

“This veto by President Trump is morally wrong and strategically wrongheaded. It sets back the hopes for respite for the Yemeni people, and leaves the US upholding a failed strategy.

Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure.”

The veto was the second of his presidency, after he overrode a congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March.

Trump argued that US support for the bloody war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-aligned Huthi rebels was necessary for a variety of reasons, “first and foremost” to “protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries.”

These countries “have been subject to Huthi attacks from Yemen,” he said, referring to drone and missile strikes the Saudi-led coalition has either claimed were intercepted or denied altogether.

The president also said the resolution would “harm the foreign policy of the United States” and “harm our bilateral relationships.”

War crimes

And it would “negatively affect our ongoing efforts to prevent civilian casualties and prevent the spread of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, and embolden Iran’s malign activities in Yemen,” Trump said, referring to two Sunni Muslim militant groups and his Shiite bete noire.

The resolution, which passed the US House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate in March, was a historic milestone, as it was the first time in history that a measure invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution reached the president’s desk.

It was a reminder that Congress has the legal ability to compel the removal of US military forces, absent a formal declaration of war.

Democrats argued that US involvement in the Yemen conflict — through intelligence-sharing, logistical support, the sale of military equipment and now-discontinued aerial refueling — is unconstitutional without congressional authority.

Critics of the intervention warn that Saudi forces are likely using US weapons to commit atrocities in the four-year war.

Some 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen over the past four years, according to the World Health Organization, although rights groups say the toll could be five times higher.

Both the Saudi-led alliance and Huthi rebels have been accused of acts that could amount to war crimes, while the coalition has been blacklisted by the United Nations for killing and maiming children.

Trump news – President ‘doesn’t regret’ tweeting about Ilhan Omar, as first 2020 Republican challenger emerges

President Donald Trump, has pledged his support to the people of France after the iconic Dame Notre, cathedral suffered a devastating fire last night. On Twitter, the president noted it was “horrible” to watch the scenes from Paris, and suggested “flying water tankers could be used to put it out.” It was confirmed this morning that the fire had been entirely extinguished.

Closer to home, Trump is also facing his first Republican challenger for the, 2020 presidential election in the form of Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, although is it deemed unlikely that anyone will seize the party’s nomination from the incumbent.

It was also announced late yesterday that the Mueller report into Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election, and any links to the Trump campaign, would be released in a redacted form to the public this Thursday.

Former first lady Michelle Obama compared living in the US under President Trump to living with a “divorced dad.” “We come from a broken family, we are a little unsettled,” Ms Obama said. “Sometimes you spend the weekend with divorced dad. That feels like fun but then you get sick. That is what America is going through. We are living with divorced dad.

Then-CIA deputy director Gina Haspel used photos of dead ducks after the Salisbury attack in March 2018 to persuade Trump to expel 60 Russian diplomats. 

First daughter Ivanka Trump made an appearance aboard an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft to honor March 2019 crash victims.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who announced his candidacy as a Republican challenger to the president, said he could not — in good conscience — support Mr Trump. “I could not support Donald Trump for president,” Mr Weld said. “I’m not saying I would ever endorse a Democrat in this race, but I could not support the president.”

A chicken resembling Donald Trump appeared during a protest outside the Internal Revenue Service building on Monday where progressives are demanding the president release his tax returns.

Here is audio of the president condemning Ms Omar once again: 

Republicans celebrated Cher for posting a tweet that echoes similar sentiments of their own towards refugees and migrants in response to President Trump threatening to send migrants to sanctuary cities. “I Understand Helping struggling Immigrants,but MY CITY (Los Angeles) ISNT TAKING CARE OF ITS OWN,” the singer wrote on a post Sunday. “If My State Can’t Take Care of Its Own(Many Are VETS)How Can it Take Care Of More.”

The president said he will award Tiger Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom after the professional golfer won his fifth Masters title.

Trump news - live: President 'doesn't regret' tweeting about Ilhan Omar, as first 2020 Republican challenger emerges
Donald Trump to honour Tiger Woods after ‘incredible comeback’ to win Masters

The 43-year-old broke an 11-year drought to win his 15th major championship on Sunday and is now set to be rewarded by the president

Mr Trump continues to layer on his attacks on Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar despite the death threats aimed at the congresswoman. Speaking to a local news station in Minnesota, the president said Ms Omar, a black Muslim Somali refugee, “got a way about her that’s very, very bad for our country.”

“She’s been very disrespectful to this country,” he added. She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She is somebody that doesn’t really understand life, real life. What it’s all about.”

The president took to Twitter today to slam the special counsel investigation that looked into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russia. He referred to it as the “greatest scam in political history.”

Speaking at an event in Minnesota last night, President Trump noted that the Notre Dame fire may have been caused by renovations, asking: “What’s that all about?” Describing the incident in Paris, the president said: “It’s a terrible scene. They think it was caused by – at this moment they don’t know – but they think it was caused by renovation. And I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, you know, what’s that all about? But it’s a terrible sight to behold.”

Nancy Pelosi has warned that there can be no US trade deal with the UK after Brexit, if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined.

Speaking to an audience at LSE in London, the speaker of the house said that the Northern Ireland peace treaty could not be “bargained away in another agreement.” This warning stands in contrast to the line adopted by President Trump, who has in the past expressed enthusiasm for a post-Brexit trade deal.

Bernie Sanders’ tax returns reveal that the senator is a millionaire, and part of America’s ‘1 per cent’. 

The veteran socialist politician, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, released 10 years of his tax returns yesterday,

They confirmed that Mr Sanders’ income crossed the $1m (£764,000) threshold in 2016 and 2017, although he reported less earnings in his most recent return.

Releasing tax returns has become an expected, but not official move for presidential candidates. Most notably, Donald Trump has never revealed his own.

President Trump is facing his first challenger from within his own Republican party, for the nomination for the 2020 presidential election. 

Bill Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts has announced he will challenge the incumbent for the party’s nomination ahead of next year’s election.

In a statement, Weld said, “Ours is a nation built on courage, resilience, and independence. In these times of great political strife, when both major parties are entrenched in their ‘win at all cost’ battles, the voices of the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering. “It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”

President Trump has been tweeting about the fire which devastated much of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris overnight. As the fire was raging, Trump took to Twitter to say it was “horrible” to watch what was happening, and suggested water tankers should be used to put it out.

Later in the evening, Trump simply wrote, “God bless the people of France!”

It it not yet known what caused the fire to start, but it was fully extinguished by 9am UK time on Tuesday. The iconic cathedral, which is some 800 years old, is visited by 12 million people every year. 

You can follow our live blog, on developments as France deals with the aftermath of the fire this morning.

Bill Weld: Trump to face 2020 Republican challenge

Bill Weld: Trump to face 2020 Republican challenge

US President Donald Trump is facing a longshot challenge from within his own party ahead of next year’s White House election.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has become the first Republican to challenge Mr Trump in 2020.

Mr Weld, 73, has released a campaign video contrasting his style with the current president’s.

But he faces an uphill battle to take over a Republican party that has been refashioned in Mr Trump’s image.

Mr Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991-97 after serving in the justice department under President Ronald Reagan.

He was running mate on the Libertarian ticket during the 2016 presidential election.

“I really think if we have six more years of the same stuff we’ve had out of the White House the last two years that would be a political tragedy,” he said on CNN.

“So I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t raise my hand and run.”

Mr Weld’s campaign video touts his cross-party credentials as a Republican who was elected in the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts.

The three-minute production contrasts his record with clips of provocative statements by Mr Trump.

The video finishes with the slogan: “A Better America Starts Here.”

But underscoring the long odds for him, party leaders promptly rejected his campaign.

“Any effort to challenge the president’s nomination is bound to go absolutely nowhere,” the Republican National Committee said in statement.

According to the most recent Gallup poll, 89% of Republican voters approve of the president.

Mr Trump’s campaign said on Sunday it had raised more than $30m in the first quarter of this year, far outpacing the political war chests of individual Democratic candidates.

Ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was bested by Mr Trump during the 2016 election, has recently been calling for a Republican to oust the president next year.

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have also been mentioned in recent months as potential party challengers to Mr Trump.

Next year Republican and Democratic voters will hold elections known as primaries to pick their respective party’s standard bearer for the November 2020 presidential election.

Sitting presidents do not usually face internal challengers, and only a few have ever been denied renomination by their party.

Presentational grey line

Who will take on Trump in 2020?

Facewall promo

Pete Buttigieg has joined the race to stop Donald Trump from being re-elected. But who else has a shot at becoming the next president?

Ms Trump (R) with Sara Abera who founded clothing company Muya Ethiopia 16 years ago

Ivanka Trump in Ethiopia to ‘promote women’

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, is in Ethiopia to promote a US government initiative aimed at advancing women’s participation in the workplace.

The initiative aims to benefit 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

Ms Trump toured a female-run textile facility in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The US policy in Africa under President Trump has prioritised the war on terror and checking the influence of China.

When his administration’s long-delayed policy on Africa was finally unveiled at the close of 2018, many observers of the continent were quick to point out that it did not include the favoured American staples: promotion of democracy, free and fair elections, political and civil rights.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP), which was launched in February, coincides with President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid, and a ban on US aid to health groups that promote or provide abortions.

The W-GDP initiative aims to train women worldwide to help them get well-paying jobs.

Ms Trump visited Muya Ethiopia, a clothes manufacturing company.

The 16-year-old company, which exports clothes to the local and international markets, was founded by Sara Abera, who gave Ms Trump a tour.

AMENSISA NEGERA

According to the W-GDP’s website, low participation of women in the formal labour markets impedes economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

The project is financed by a $50m (£38m) fund within the US international development aid agency (USAid).

AMENSISA NEGERA

Fundamentally we believe that investing in women is a smart development policy and it’s smart business. It is also in our security interests because women when they are empowered they foster peace and stability and we have seen this play out time and time again,” Ms Trump said as she met women working in the coffee industry.

US EMBASSY IN ETHIOPIA

Ms Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father, will also attend a World Bank policy summit while in Ethiopia.

She will visit Ivory Coast later in the week and is set to visit a cocoa farm, as well as participate in a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa.

She tweeted ahead of the trip that she was “excited”.

The Trump administration’s policy in Africa has focused on the war on terror and trying to manage the growing political and economic influence of China and Russia on the continent.

It has, however, backed democratic reforms in countries like Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has implemented a series of progressive changes including the normalisation of relations with Eritrea after a bitter border standoff going back two decades.

The US also recently backed pro-democratic protests in Algeria and Sudan.

Mr Trump, however, upset many in the continent last year after, he reportedly used the word “shithole” to describe African nations

Julian Assange should not be extradited to US – Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the UK government should not extradite Julian Assange to the US, where he faces a computer hacking charge.

The Wikileaks co-founder was arrested for a separate charge at Ecuador’s London embassy on Thursday, where he had been granted asylum since 2012.

Mr Corbyn said Assange should not be extradited “for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s leader expressed anger at how Assange had behaved.

Australian-born Assange, 47, sought refuge in the Knightsbridge embassy seven years ago, to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. But Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum and invited the police to arrest Assange on Thursday.

After his dramatic arrest, he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court and found guilty of a British charge of breaching bail. He spent Thursday night in custody and is facing up to 12 months in prison for that conviction.

The Swedish authorities are now considering whether to reopen an investigation into the allegations of sexual assault, which Assange denies.

The US government has also charged him with allegations of conspiracy to break into a computer, relating to a massive leak of classified US government documents. The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, and if he was convicted, he could face up to five years in jail.

Assange battle ‘now political’

In a tweet, Mr Corbyn shared a video said to be of Pentagon footage – which had been released by Wikileaks – of a 2007 air strike which implicated US military in the killing of civilians and two journalists.

Earlier in the House of Commons, Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott questioned the US government’s motivation for charging Assange. She said: “Julian Assange is not being pursued to protect US national security. He is being pursued because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations.”

The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Emmanuel, said backing Assange is not without political risk and will not find universal favour among Labour MPs – but Mr Corbyn’s intervention “means the battle over Assange’s future will now be as much political as it is legal”.

Sketch of Julia Assange at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 11 April 2019
Australian-born Assange at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday

The editor of Wikileaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, has expressed fears that the US could file more serious charges against Assange, and that if he was convicted he could be behind bars for “decades”.

Mr Hrafnsson added that Assange had been thrown “overboard” by Ecuador – and the country was “horrible” to treat him like that.

‘He was a problem’

Meanwhile in Ecuador, President Lenin Moreno criticised Assange, claiming that after spending seven years in the country’s embassy he had dismissed Ecuador by describing it as an insignificant country.

“We had treated him as a guest,” he said. “But not anymore.”

Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK, Jaime Marchan, also previously said Assange had been “continually a problem” while he was living in the embassy.

Meanwhile, a man who is alleged to have links with Assange has been arrested while trying to leave Ecuador, the country’s officials said.

The man – who has been identified by supporters as a Swedish software developer called Ola Bini – had been trying to board a flight to Japan.

He’s been in Ecuador’s embassy for seven years – but why was Julian Assange there in the first place?

Assange is due to face a hearing over his possible extradition to the US on 2 May.

During a briefing at the White House following Assange’s arrest, US President Donald Trump was asked by reporters if he stood by remarks that he made during his election campaign when he said he loved Wikileaks.

“I know nothing about Wikileaks,” said Mr Trump. “It’s not my thing.”

What Trump’s said about Wikileaks

He added: “I’ve been seeing what happened with Assange and that will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who’s doing an excellent job.”

Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.

She said she had visited Assange in the police cells where he thanked supporters and said: “I told you so.”

Assange had predicted that he would face extradition to the US if he left the embassy.

Meanwhile, Australia said it had received a request for consular assistance after Assange was taken from the embassy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Assange will not get “special treatment” and will have to “make his way through whatever comes his way in terms of the justice system”.

Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson say the arrest sets a dangerous precedent

The arrest was welcomed by the government on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: “This goes to show that in the UK, no-one is above the law.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the arrest was the result of “years of careful diplomacy” and that it was “not acceptable” for someone to “escape facing justice”.

Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.

The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website. She said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but US officials said the leak put lives at risk.

She was found guilty by a court martial in 2013 of charges including espionage. However, her jail sentence was later commuted.

Manning was recently jailed for refusing to testify, before an investigation into Wikileaks’ role in revealing the secret files.

Trump urges inquiry into ‘attempted coup’ against him

President Donald Trump says he has spoken to the US attorney general about tracing the origins of the inquiry that cleared him of colluding with Russia.

Mr Trump described the investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller as “an attempted coup”.

Attorney General William Barr meanwhile said he believes US authorities did spy on the Trump campaign.

US intelligence officials have previously said they were spying on the Russians, not the Trump campaign.

Barr told lawmakers on Tuesday that Mueller declined an offered to review his letter

What did Trump say?

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday morning, the Republican president railed against the Department of Justice inquiry into whether the Trump campaign had conspired with the Kremlin to sway the 2016 election.

The investigation cleared him and his aides of collusion, making no determination on whether they had tried to obstruct justice.

Mr Trump said: “This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted take-down of a president. And we beat them. We beat them.

“So the Mueller report, when they talk about obstruction we fight back. And do you know why we fight back?

“Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was. It was a scam.

“What I’m most interested in is getting started, hopefully the attorney general, he mentioned it yesterday.

“He’s doing a great job, getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started.

“Because this was an illegal witch hunt, and everybody knew it. And they knew it too. And they got caught. And what they did was treason.”

What did the attorney general say?

While Mr Trump was flying off to Texas, America’s top law official was appearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

William Barr was asked whether spying occurred on the Trump campaign during the 2016 White House race.

“I think spying did occur,” said the attorney general. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated.

“I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

Mr Barr said he did not understand why intelligence officials chose not to warn the Trump campaign that it could be vulnerable to infiltration.

The attorney general praised the “outstanding” FBI as a whole, but told the panel: “I think there was probably a failure among the group of leaders.”

He added: “I feel I have an obligation to make sure government power is not abused.”

Was the Trump campaign spied on?

President Trump and his conservative allies have repeatedly suggested the Obama administration planted a mole in his presidential campaign to undercut his candidacy.

The former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked on ABC in May last year if the FBI had indeed snooped on the Trump team.

He replied: “No, they were not. They were spying on – a term I don’t particularly like – but on what the Russians were doing.

“Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence which is what they do.”

The same day in an interview with CNN, Mr Clapper said: “The objective here was actually to protect the campaign by determining whether the Russians were infiltrating it and attempting to exert influence.”

According to the New York Times last year, the FBI sent an informant, an unnamed US academic who teaches in the UK, to speak to two low-level Trump aides, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, after the agency became suspicious of the pair’s Russian contacts.

Kirstjen Nielsen has served in her role since December 2017

Kirstjen Nielsen: US Homeland Security chief resigns

The US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who enforced some of President Trump’s controversial border policies, has resigned.

Ms Nielsen called it “an honour of a lifetime” to work in the department.

President Trump tweeted she would be temporarily replaced by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

Ms Nielsen was responsible for implementing the proposed border wall and the separation of migrant families.

She gave no reason for her departure in her resignation letter, although she said this was “the right time for me to step aside” and said the US “is safer today than when I joined the Administration”.

The announcement she is leaving her post comes days after the president visited the southern border.

Mr Trump has recently threatened to shut the crossing, but has since backtracked and promised to give Mexico a year to stop drugs and migrants crossing into the US.

Who is Kirstjen Nielsen?

Ms Nielsen first joined Mr Trump’s administration in January 2017 as an assistant to the former Homeland Security chief John Kelly.

She became Mr Kelly’s deputy when he moved to become White House chief of staff, but returned to lead her former department later that year.

Ms Nielsen defended border policies such as holding children in wire enclosures in the face of strong condemnation and intense questioning by Democrats in Congress.

US child migrants: Five things to know

But she brushed off the demonstration, tweeting that she would “work tirelessly” to fix the “broken immigration system”.

Her relationship with Mr Trump is said to have been difficult, although in public she has been loyal to the administration.

Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly had been on thin ice in the Trump administration for more than a year. Her closest ally, former Chief of Staff John Kelly, exited the White House in December. Now, along the annual spring thaw, the ice beneath her has finally cracked.

Or perhaps the homeland security secretary simply reached her limit. The real story will have to wait for the inevitable leaks and insider accounts that spread every time this president makes a staffing change.

What seems clear, however, is that there are conflicts taking place behind the scenes in the White House – conflicts accompanying the president’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric on immigration.

Just two days ago, Mr Trump rescinded his nomination of Ronald Vitiello to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement because, he said, he wanted to go in a “tougher direction”.

Now his homeland security secretary – whom he had in the past viewed as not aggressive enough – is out.

Ms Nielsen’s name will forever be associated with the Trump administration’s family separation border policy that led to massive bipartisan outcry last year. The president eventually backed down from that fight, but these latest moves suggest a more confrontational approach to border security is all but assured.

Presentational grey line

What’s been the reaction?

Members of the Democratic party have already commented on her departure.

Bennie Thompson, Mississippi congressman and Chair of the Comittee on Homeland Security, said Ms Nielsen’s tenure was “a disaster from the start”, while Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey calling the move “long overdue”.

However, he said the fight is “far from over to ensure Trump’s assault on our immigrant community comes to an end”.

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham praised Ms Nielsen, saying she “did her best to deal with a broken immigration system and broken Congress”.

And Texas congressman Michael McCaul said she was “a principled voice” who “wholly understands the threats we face”.

President Trump insists the situation on the southern border is a crisis and has declared a national emergency, bypassing Congress to secure funds for his border wall plan.

Democrats have protested against the move, and declared the emergency unconstitutional.

Trump: one-year warning for Mexico to stop drugs, people

Iran floods: Thousands evacuate homes as heavy rain forecast

Flood-hit Iran is evacuating more towns and villages as forecasts show further rain is expected on Saturday.

Heavy downpours are set to strike south western provinces and officials say they will release water from key river dams that are dangerously full.

Women and children are being moved to safer areas while men are asked to stay and assist with relief efforts.

In recent weeks, much of the country has been submerged and the death toll currently stands at 70.

Towns such as Susangerd, with a population of 50,000, will be left at risk, officials say. It is to be evacuated on Saturday, along with about five other communities in the province of Khuzestan.

A family wade through the water outside destroyed buildings carrying blankets and bottles
Families tried to rescued their possessions as floods swamped homes in Khuzestan

Around 70 villages in the province have already been evacuated in the past week.

Energy companies in the oil-rich region have helped the relief effort by using pumps to remove water.

Extremely heavy rain began on 19 March, affecting about 1,900 cities, towns and villages. Thousands of roads, bridges and buildings have been destroyed.

A map showing the extent of the floods on March 29 and 4 April

So far, 86,000 people are living in emergency shelters, of which about 1,000 were airlifted to safety.

Aid agencies are struggling to cope with the scale of the crisis and Iran’s state budget is under pressure due to US sanctions on energy and banking.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the sanctions – reimposed after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year,  – had impeded aid efforts and caused a shortage of rescue helicopters.

“This isn’t just economic warfare, it’s economic terrorism,” Mr Zarif tweeted on 1 April.

The government has promised that those affected, especially farmers, will be compensated for their losses.

The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the armed forces were “using all their power” to minimise damage.


Are floods linked to deforestation?

By BBC Johnson Michael

Environmental experts believe that deforestation has been one of the major causes of flooding in recent years in the country.

According to Iran’s Natural Resources and Forestry Organization, widespread and unregulated deforestation has destroyed around half of Iran’s northern forests, areas where major floods have occurred.

According to the organisation, the northern forests area has been reduced from 3.6 million to 1.8 million hectares during the past 40 years.


Iran floods: Thousands evacuate homes as heavy rain forecast
There is flooding across the country
US President Donald Trump: No collusion

Russian hoax is finally dead’, Trump tells Michigan rally

At his first rally since the Mueller report was submitted, Donald Trump railed against his political opponents and reiterated his claim that the report was a “total exoneration”.

The report found no evidence of Russian collusion but did not exonerate Mr Trump of obstruction of justice.

In a typically free-form, 90-minute speech, Mr Trump used crude language to deride the investigation.

He was speaking at a rally in Grand Rapids in the state of Michigan.

Warning: this report contains strong language

“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” the president told a cheering crowd of thousands.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed to head an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election almost two years ago.

His team have charged 34 people – including six former Trump aides and a dozen Russians – as well as three companies. None of those charges directly related to the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

In his speech on Thursday night, Mr Trump called the investigation “a plan by those who lost the election to try and illegally regain power by framing innocent Americans – many of them, they suffered – with an elaborate hoax”.

Mr Mueller’s report was submitted on a week ago to the US Attorney General William Barr. After two days, Mr Barr released a four-page summary of the more-than 300-page report.

According to Mr Barr’s summary, Mr Mueller’s team did not establish that Trump campaign members colluded with Russians – a significant political victory for the president, who has lived for two years under a cloud of suspicion about alleged collusion.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
President Trump addressed the crowd at his rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan

After a period of uncharacteristic silence on the issue as Mr Mueller neared the end of his investigation, Mr Trump let loose this week in attacks on those who he saw as supporters of the investigation, as well as his Democratic opponents.

Speaking at the rally in Grand Rapids, he said: “These are sick people and there has to be accountability because it’s all lies and they know it’s lies.”

Using unusually crude language for a public appearance, he called the investigation “ridiculous bullshit”.

President Trump went on to repeat his claim that the report was a “total exoneration, complete vindication” – an expression which has jarred with some, given that Mr Mueller’s report explicitly stated that investigators were unable to exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.

The obstruction charge was a secondary plank of Mr Mueller’s investigation, alongside efforts to establish whether any collusion had taken place.

But Mr Mueller declined to draw a conclusion on whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice, saying only that the president could not be exonerated.

Attorney General Barr, who was appointed by the president, concluded in his summary of the report that there was not enough evidence to determine if the president had committed the offence.

Leading Democrats have called for the Mueller report to be published in full, and pledged to make use of the party’s majority control of House committees to continue investigating the president.

Despite the end of the Mueller investigation, Mr Trump still faces more than a dozen other criminal investigations and lawsuits looking into his businesses, family, and associates – including allegations that he instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two porn stars over alleged sexual affairs.

Mr Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison. In all, six former Trump aides were indicted during the Mueller investigation, including his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

BBC Graphic showing who has been charged in the Robert Mueller investigation, updated 23 March 2019

Democrats refuse to retreat on Trump legal issues despite Mueller disappointment

House committee chairs call on attorney general William Barr to send them full Mueller report by 2 April

As Donald Trump, declared victory following the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Democrats showed no signs of backing down from the numerous legal questions encircling the president and his associates.

The completion of the highly anticipated, Robert Mueller prompted an intense debate in Washington over how to proceed as Democrats said a summary of its findings by the attorney general, William Barr, “raises as many questions as it answers”, even though it probably laid the issue of collusion with Russia firmly to rest.

Since taking control of the House of Representatives in January, Democrats

have launched an onslaught of investigations into the president, his administration and his family business.

It thus came as an undeniable blow to Democrats that Mueller’s report did not find that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to swing the 2016 election, or produce a more definitive conclusion on whether the president himself engaged in any criminal activity.

But as Trump and his allies seized on the account to falsely claim “total exoneration”, Democrats signaled the legal and political battle lines were far from settled, especially when it came to Barr’s decision not to pursue the obstruction of justice issue.

Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, announced he would summon Barr, who was confirmed as Trump’s attorney general earlier this year, to testify on Capitol Hill as Democrats seek more answers from the conclusion of the nearly two-year federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a four-page letter to Congress, Barr said Mueller’s report did not find criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during the 2016 presidential election but was inconclusive on the question of whether the president obstructed justice.

“It’s a shame that our country has had to go through this,” a defiant Trump said Sunday. “To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.”

Democrats nonetheless demanded the release of the full Mueller report, while suggesting Barr’s summary could not be trusted given his prior criticisms of the special counsel investigation.

Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris react to completion of Trump-Russia inquiry 

“The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay,” the Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“Given Mr Barr’s public record of bias against the special counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”

Democrats took particular issue with the claim by Barr and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, that Mueller’s evidence was insufficient to prove Trump had obstructed justice.

The special counsel examined several actions by Trump in considering the question of obstruction, including his firing of the former FBI director James Comey, public and private attempts to pressure the former attorney general Jeff Sessions, and role in misleading the public about a meeting between his campaign and a Russian lawyer during the campaign.

In a joint statement, the Democratic chairmen of the House intelligence, judiciary and oversight committees called for the complete release of Mueller’s report and “all underlying documents”.

“It is unacceptable that, after Special Counsel Mueller spent 22 months meticulously uncovering this evidence, Attorney General Barr made a decision not to charge the president in under 48 hours,” the chairmen said.

“The special counsel’s report should be allowed to speak for itself,” they added.

On Monday evening, six Democratic House committee chairs, including the chairmen of the intelligence and judiciary subcommittees, sent a letter to Barr requesting that he send them the full Mueller report by 2 April. They also asked Barr to start transmitting the evidence underlying the report to the relevant committees.

Barr has not made clear how much of the report he intends to make public, teeing up a potentially major dispute that may ultimately be settled in the courts. By a tally of 420-0, the House voted overwhelmingly last month in favor of making the Mueller report public.

But even as they seek a full accounting of Mueller’s investigation, Democrats have sought to temper expectations of impeachment – a subject that has polarized the American public.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has on multiple occasions thrown cold water on what several Democrats refer to as “the I-word”, leaving it to voters at the 2020 ballot box to determine Trump’s fate.

Some strategists said the initial read of the Mueller report may have lifted the burden of impeachment from Democrats’ shoulders, enabling them to focus instead on drawing a policy contrast to Trump as he seeks re-election next year.

“I think Democrats need to allow the investigations to continue while focusing on the rest of their legislative agenda,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist who served as an aide to the former Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

“It’s pretty clear impeachment is not in the cards, at least not right now.”

To impeach Trump, Democrats would need not just a majority in the House but also a two-thirds vote in the Republican-led Senate to convict – an outcome as unlikely as ever before given the widespread support Trump enjoys from members of his own party.

Polling has found Americans largely split on whether Trump should be impeached.

There are countless other legal perils looming over Trump’s presidency, however, that remain unresolved and which Democrats are likely to focus on.

Among them are hush money payments to women claiming affairs with Trump and attempts by the president and his allies to cover them up.

In public testimony on Capitol Hill last month, Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen directly implicated the president in the hush money payments – a violation of US campaign finance law – while also accusing Trump of various other criminal acts.

Those allegations are being investigated by prosecutors of the southern district of New York and increasingly a subject of the inquiries launched by House Democrats.

“Reading the coverage today one would assume that the release of the Mueller report ended the criminal investigations into Trump his inauguration, his business, and his foundation,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, tweeted.

“It didn’t. He still has more criminal exposure than all the other presidents combined.”

As the fall-out from the Mueller report unfolds …

… The Guardian offers clarity at this critical moment in American history. As the most momentous political probe since Watergate plays out, we will continue to provide insight, analysis and factual reporting to help bring the truth to light.

But we need your help, too. More people, all around the world, are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our reporting accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

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This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different from so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. This support enables us to keep working as we do – but we must maintain and build on it for every year to come.

Fences already run along stretches of the US-Mexico border

US-Mexico border wall: Pentagon authorises $1bn transfer

The Pentagon has authorised the transfer of $1bn (£758m) to army engineers for new wall construction along the US-Mexico border.

The funds are the first under the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump to bypass Congress and build the barrier he pledged during his election campaign.

Democrats have protested against the move.

The funds will be used to build about 57 miles (91km) of fencing.

President Trump has called the situation at the southern border a “crisis” and insists a physical barrier is needed to stop criminals crossing into the US. His critics say he has manufactured the border emergency.

A Pentagon statement said acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan had “authorised the commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1bn in support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol”.

The statement cited a federal law that “gives the Department of Defence the authority to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies”.

As well the 18ft-high (5m) “pedestrian fencing”, the funds will cover road improvements and new lights.

Democratic senators complained that the Pentagon had not sought permission from the appropriate committees before notifying Congress of the funds transfer.

A group of about 30 Brazilian migrants who had just crossed the border in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on March 20, 2019, as they wait for US Border Patrol to pick them up
Thousands of people cross the border every year seeking a new life in the US

“We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defence committees and in violation of provisions in the defence appropriation itself,” the senators wrote in a letter to Mr Shanahan, CNN reported.

Mr Trump declared the emergency on 15 February after Congress refused his requests for $5.7bn (£4.4bn) to construct the wall. By declaring an emergency he sought to bypass Congress and build the wall with military funding.

Democrats branded the declaration unconstitutional.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution to overturn the emergency last month, and 12 Republicans later sided with Democratic Senators to get it through the Senate.

US-Mexico border wall: Pentagon authorises $1bn transfer
Trump issues first veto of his presidency

However, Mr Trump vetoed the resolution earlier this month.

Congress will now need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override him, which correspondents say is unlikely to happen.

Trump on Mueller probe: 'We can never let this happen again

Trump hints at payback for ‘evil’ enemies over Mueller report

President Donald Trump says his enemies who did “evil” and “treasonous things” will be under scrutiny after he was absolved of colluding with Russia.

Speaking in the Oval Office, he said no other president should have to be investigated over “a false narrative”.

He spoke a day after the attorney general released a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s completed report.

It clears Mr Trump of conspiring with Russia to steal the US 2016 election.

But the long-awaited report stops short of exonerating Mr Trump of obstruction of justice.

US Attorney General William Barr ruled there was no evidence requiring prosecution on the obstruction issue.

What did President Trump say?

Mr Trump was hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House on Monday when a reporter asked him about the outcome of the Mueller report.

“There’s a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things,” Mr Trump said, “I would say treasonous things, against our country.”

“And hopefully people that have done such harm to our country, we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening.

“Those people will certainly be looked at, I’ve been looking at them for a long time.

“And I’m saying, ‘why haven’t they been looked at?’ They lied to Congress – many of them, you know who they are – they’ve’ done so many evil things.”

Mr Trump did not name the alleged culprits.

He added: “It was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing, we can never let this happen to another president again, I can tell you that. I say it very strongly.”

What’s the political reaction?

On Monday, Senate Judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham laid out the Republican strategy as he pledged to “unpack the other side of the story” of the Russia investigation.

The South Carolina senator, who spent the weekend with Mr Trump in Florida, said his panel would investigate the Department of Justice-led inquiry.

The FBI’s use of a dossier compiled to discredit Mr Trump by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, would be among aspects under scrutiny, said Mr Graham.

Meanwhile, Democrats are focusing on a line in the attorney general’s summary that says Mr Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” Mr Trump of obstruction of justice, even though Mr Barr concluded on Sunday there was insufficient evidence that Mr Trump had committed a crime.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he would summon Mr Barr to testify soon “in light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the justice department”.

The House Appropriations Committee has set a hearing date of 9 April for the Department of Justice’ budget, which Mr Barr is expected to attend, Politico reported. Other committees could call him to testify even sooner.

On Monday Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked a move by Democrats to urge Mr Barr to release the Mueller report to the public.

He said it was too early to release the full report as “the special counsel and the justice department ought to be allowed to finish their work”.

Senator McConnell also posted on Twitter: “No collusion. No conspiracy. No obstruction.”

On Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her deputies will have a weekly meeting, after which a clearer Democratic strategy could emerge.

But California Congresswoman Katie Hill told Politico she does not think much will change.

“None of us were waiting on the Mueller report in terms of deciding what we were going to be doing,” she said. “Our investigations didn’t depend on the Mueller report.”

Trump hints at payback for 'evil' enemies over Mueller report
Mueller report: One summary, two interpretations

Mueller report: President Trump ‘did not conspire with Russia’

President Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report submitted to Congress on Sunday.

The report summary did not draw a conclusion as to whether Mr Trump illegally obstructed justice – not exonerating the president.

The report was summarised for Congress by the attorney general, William Barr.

President Trump tweeted in response: “No Collusion, No Obstruction.”

Mr Trump, who repeatedly described the inquiry as a witch hunt, said on Sunday that “it was a shame that the country had to go through this”, describing the inquiry as an “illegal takedown that failed”.

The report is the culmination of two years of investigation by Mr Mueller which saw some of the president’s closest former aides prosecuted and, in some cases, imprisoned.

“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mr Mueller wrote in his report.

What is in the report summary?

The summary letter by Mr Barr outlines the inquiry’s findings relating to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Barr concluded: “The special counsel did not find that any US person or Trump campaign official conspired or knowingly co-ordinated with Russia.”

The second part of the letter addresses the issue of obstruction of justice. Mr Barr’s summary says the special counsel report “ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment”.

“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” the letter read.Media captionMueller report a “complete exoneration”, says US President Trump

Mr Barr says that the evidence was not sufficient “to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offence”.

Mr Barr ends his letter to Congress by saying he will release more from the full report, but that some of the material is subject to restrictions.

“Given these restrictions, the schedule for processing the report depends in part on how quickly the Department can identify the [grand jury] material that by law cannot be made public,” he wrote.

“I have requested the assistance of the Special Counsel in identifying all information contained in the report as quickly as possible.”

How have US politicians reacted?

Congressman Jerry Nadler, the Democratic Chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, emphasised that the attorney general did not rule out that Mr Trump may have obstructed justice.

“Barr says that the president may have acted to obstruct justice, but that for an obstruction conviction, ‘the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct’.”

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, said that while there was a lack of evidence to support “a prosecutable criminal conspiracy”, questions remained over whether Mr Trump had been compromised.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that Mr Barr’s letter “raises as many questions as it answers” and called for access to the full report.

“For the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility,” the statement said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the findings of the report as “a total and complete exoneration of the president”.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said the report was “better than I expected”. Republican Senator Mitt Romney welcomed the “good news”, tweeting that it was now “time for the country to move forward”.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has taken almost two years

What happens next?

The release of the report’s key findings on Sunday could mark the start of a lengthy battle to see the entire Mueller report made public.

A number of senior Democrats have called for the full report to be released along with all of the special counsel’s investigative files.

Mr Barr has said he will release more, but indicated it would take some time to determine what materials could be shared.

He did not give a specific time frame, but whenever further details are handed to Congress Democrats may mount legal challenges if it is anything less than the entire report.

As Congress awaits further details, Mr Barr may be called to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee’s Democratic chairman, Jerry Nadler, said on Twitter that he will ask Mr Barr to testify “in the near future” over what Mr Nadler said were “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department”.

Meanwhile, as Mr Trump claimed “total exoneration” on Sunday, about a dozen other investigations were continuing to examine his activities.

They include a federal investigation in New York that is looking into possible election-law violations by the Trump campaign and his businesses and possible misconduct by the Trump inaugural committee.

Congress is also continuing its own inquiries, mostly in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

A good day for Trump

In his four-page letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr summarises, mostly in his own words, the conclusions of the special counsel’s investigation. In one key line, however, he directly quotes the report.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

There, in Robert Mueller’s own words, is the end result of nearly two years of work, 2,800 subpoenas, hundreds of search warrants and countless hours of interviews. There were “multiple offers” of help from “Russian-affiliated individuals” to the Trump campaign, but they never took the bait.

There was, as Donald Trump might say, “no collusion”. At least, no evidence of it was unearthed.

The obstruction of justice component is a murkier matter. The decision of whether to charge Mr Trump with interference with the various investigations wasn’t Mr Mueller’s. Saying it involved “difficult issues”, the former FBI director punted.

Instead, Mr Barr – in consultation with Department of Justice staff – decided not to prosecute, in part because there was no apparent underlying crime to obstruct.

Make no mistake, today was a very good day for Mr Trump.

While a bevy of inquiries into his presidency will grind on, the shadow of Mr Mueller’s investigation – hovering over the White House since May 2017 – has been lifted.


BBC Graphic showing who has been charged in the Robert Mueller investigation, updated 23 March 2019