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Trump Orders Intelligence Community to Cooperate with Review on Russia Probe Origins

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr’s review of the events that prompted an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The directive comes as the White House spars with congressional Democrats over the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who led a two-year investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election and if there were any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Today, at the request and recommendation of the attorney general of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after Trump issued the directive.

The order also allows Barr to declassify any information he sees fit during his review.

​Mueller report

A redacted version of Mueller’s report was released publicly in April. The probe found no evidence that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia and did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, but outlined some incidents that Democrats have said may be obstruction.

Republican House member Mark Meadows tweeted Thursday that “Americans are going to learn the truth about what occurred at their Justice Department.”

Adam Schiff, a Democrat member and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticized Trump’s directive.

“While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies,” Schiff said on Twitter. “The cover-up has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American,” he added.

In separate comments late Thursday on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Mueller had told him that he is willing to testify to lawmakers in private.

Nadler, a Democrat, told Maddow that if Mueller did testify behind closed doors then the public would get a written transcript of the testimony.

But Trump railed on Twitter early Friday against the investigation, and said that the investigation was politically motivated.

‘Draining the swamp’

Trump, a Republican, harbors suspicions that the Democratic Obama administration ordered that Trump be investigated during the 2016 campaign to try to undermine his candidacy, and he wants payback against those he believes were responsible.

“Comey, Brennan, Clapper, we’re draining the swamp, folks,” Trump told a rally Monday in Pennsylvania, referring to former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, all of whom have been critical of Trump.

Of specific interest to Trump are the warrants that emanated from a secretive court that authorizes surveillance on foreign powers and their agents. Trump supporters believe the warrants will identify those responsible for the Russia probe that is still roiling Washington.

Last month, Barr said at a Senate hearing that “spying” on Trump’s campaign was carried out by U.S. intelligence agencies, though he later referred to his concerns as focused on “unauthorized surveillance.”

Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to probe the origins of the Russia investigation in what is the third known inquiry into the opening of the FBI probe.

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Trump Orders Intelligence Community to Cooperate with Review on Russia Probe Origins

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr’s review of the events that prompted an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The directive comes as the White House spars with congressional Democrats over the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who led a two-year investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election and if there were any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Today, at the request and recommendation of the attorney general of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after Trump issued the directive.

The order also allows Barr to declassify any information he sees fit during his review.

​Mueller report

A redacted version of Mueller’s report was released publicly in April. The probe found no evidence that the Trump campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia and did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, but outlined some incidents that Democrats have said may be obstruction.

Republican House member Mark Meadows tweeted Thursday that “Americans are going to learn the truth about what occurred at their Justice Department.”

Adam Schiff, a Democrat member and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticized Trump’s directive.

“While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies,” Schiff said on Twitter. “The cover-up has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American,” he added.

In separate comments late Thursday on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Mueller had told him that he is willing to testify to lawmakers in private.

Nadler, a Democrat, told Maddow that if Mueller did testify behind closed doors then the public would get a written transcript of the testimony.

But Trump railed on Twitter early Friday against the investigation, and said that the investigation was politically motivated.

‘Draining the swamp’

Trump, a Republican, harbors suspicions that the Democratic Obama administration ordered that Trump be investigated during the 2016 campaign to try to undermine his candidacy, and he wants payback against those he believes were responsible.

“Comey, Brennan, Clapper, we’re draining the swamp, folks,” Trump told a rally Monday in Pennsylvania, referring to former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, all of whom have been critical of Trump.

Of specific interest to Trump are the warrants that emanated from a secretive court that authorizes surveillance on foreign powers and their agents. Trump supporters believe the warrants will identify those responsible for the Russia probe that is still roiling Washington.

Last month, Barr said at a Senate hearing that “spying” on Trump’s campaign was carried out by U.S. intelligence agencies, though he later referred to his concerns as focused on “unauthorized surveillance.”

Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to probe the origins of the Russia investigation in what is the third known inquiry into the opening of the FBI probe.

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Roosevelt Room Rancor as Trump Trash-Talks Pelosi 

A routine event in the White House Roosevelt Room on Thursday afternoon to announce $16 billion in farm aid morphed into a verbal attack on the most powerful Democrat in Congress by the president, who also accused by name former top FBI officials of treason. 

After announcing the agriculture assistance package in response to losses stemming from the U.S. trade war with China, President Donald Trump responded to questions from a small group of reporters. 

The president spent much of the time criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she had told U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that she needed two weeks to understand the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA). 

“Pelosi does not understand the bill,” said Trump. “So she’s got to get up to snuff, learn the bill.” 

Some of the queries during the 47-minute event dealt with his temperament in an Oval Office meeting the previous day, when a discussion with top Democrats from Capitol Hill about infrastructure funding ended quickly. 

Trump insisted he was calm, “like I am right now.” 

He did not, however, drop the subject. 

Trump called on a number of aides in the Roosevelt Room to assert that he had remained calm and had not thrown a temper tantrum as Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer implied. 

“You were very calm and very direct,” replied Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications. 

“Very calm,” responded White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “I’ve seen both. And this was not angry and ranting.” 

Three other White House officials Trump asked to bear witness echoed that sentiment. 

Trump labeled Pelosi as crazy, said she had “lost it” and “has a lot of problems.” He termed as nasty the House speaker’s suggestion earlier in the day that the president’s family needed to stage an intervention because of his behavior. 

“I’m an extremely stable genius,” Trump asserted at one point. 

Minutes later, Pelosi tweeted:

During the impromptu news conference, a reporter asked Trump if he wanted to be impeached by the opposition Democrats in the House, as Pelosi asserted. 

“I don’t know that anybody wants to be impeached,” he replied. 

Trump again criticized ongoing investigations of him by Congress, lamenting that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his two-year probe did not end questions about links between the president’s 2016 campaign and Russians. 

A reporter asked Trump to name the perceived political opponents he has accused of treason for launching investigations into those who worked on his campaign. 

Trump responded by naming, among others, former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. 

Trump said “probably people higher than that” also committed treason, but he did not elaborate. 

Those found guilty of treason in the United States face possible life imprisonment or execution. 

Asked whether he would approve sending more troops to the Middle East to respond to threats from Iran, Trump noted he was holding a meeting on the subject later in the afternoon, but said, “I don’t think we’ll need it.” 

Trump emphasized, though, that “nobody’s going to mess with us.”

Trump also termed Chinese telecommunications equipment provider Huawei “very dangerous” but quickly added that the company, which now faces severe restrictions in the United States, could be part of a trade deal with China.

Trump also indicated he would sign a bipartisan $19.1 billion disaster relief bill, even though it does not include border funding that the president had demanded. 

“We’ll take care of the immigration later,” said Trump.

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US Senate Passes Disaster Relief Bill Without Border Aid

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved $19.1 billion in aid to help Americans rebound from a string of natural disasters, but without the extra funds to 

address a migrant surge at the border that President Donald Trump had requested. 

The Senate, which has a thin Republican majority, approved the measure 85-8. Democrats, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, said a vote could soon follow in that chamber. 

Trump supports the legislation, fellow Republican lawmakers said. 

The measure is aimed at assisting victims of disasters across the country over the last two years, from hurricanes in the Southeast to Midwestern flooding and California wildfires, with funds to help farmers and repair highways and other infrastructure. It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by a hurricane in 2017. Trump had vehemently opposed sending more aid to the Caribbean island. 

The bill does not include emergency funds to address a migrant surge at the southern U.S. border that Trump had requested earlier this month. 

“I had a nice conversation with the president,” Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who helped negotiate the bill, told reporters outside the Senate. “The president said OK.” 

Shelby said Republicans would push for separate approval of the border aid Trump wanted after lawmakers return from a recess next week, saying, “It’s needed.” 

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said he was willing to keep negotiating about border aid. “We’re close but we’re not there yet,” he said. 

Trump on May 1 requested $4.5 billion for programs that house, feed, transport and oversee the record number of Central American families seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border with Mexico. 

A spokesman for House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, said she was pleased the bipartisan legislation “will meet urgent needs across the country,” adding that House Democrats supported clearing it “as soon as possible.” 

The legislation includes disaster relief for farmers; development grants for rural communities; funds for wastewater infrastructure; and resources to restore highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects, Shelby’s office said. 

It also includes $600 million in nutrition assistance and $304 million in Community Development Block Grant funding for Puerto Rico sought by Democrats, as well as an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, a statement said. 

Democrats said the bill took much longer to pass than it should have, in part because of Trump’s interventions. 

“Each time the president messes in, things get messed up,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, referring to repeated criticism from Trump of the proposed aid for Puerto Rico and Trump’s border aid request. “So I suggested this morning that we just do disaster aid and no border, and that’s what we’re doing. … We got all we wanted for Puerto Rico.” 

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Migrant Surge Accelerates at US-Mexico Border 

The Trump administration on Thursday said a surge of migrant arrivals at the southern U.S. border continues to accelerate, with more than 300,000 mostly Central American undocumented immigrants apprehended or requesting asylum so far in the current fiscal year, which began last October. 

 

“We are in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border,” acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told a Senate panel. “Almost 110,000 migrants attempted to cross without legal status last month, the most in over a decade, and over 65% were families and unaccompanied children.” 

 

At the current pace, 2019’s total for migrant arrivals would more than triple the number reported for all of 2018, which was 169,000. 

Factors in migration

 

McAleenan said that while gang violence and rampant insecurity in three Central American nations has started to ebb, other factors, such as persistent droughts and a lack of economic opportunity, continue to compel a large number of people to trek north.  

The DHS acting secretary also highlighted U.S. policy as a “pull factor” for migrants. 

 

“Families [apprehended at the border] can no longer be held together through an appropriate and fair proceeding, and essentially have a guarantee of release and an indefinite stay in the United States,” McAleenan told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “It’s been exploited by smugglers who are advertising that opportunity, and that’s what’s causing the significant surge that we see this year.” 

 

The administration’s handling of migrant children continued to be a focus of congressional scrutiny after news broke earlier this week that a sixth minor — a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador — had died in U.S. government custody. 

 

“We all agree that we must absolutely secure our borders, but the death of children in custody is simply unacceptable,” the panel’s top Democrat, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, said. “We must identify what went wrong and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.” 

Overwhelmed system

 

McAleenan said he has directed that all arriving children receive health screenings, and that, on average, 65 migrants are taken to hospitals daily. Overall, he pointed to an overwhelmed system pushed to the breaking point.  

“Given the scale of what we are facing, we will exhaust our resources before the end of this fiscal year,” said McAleenan, who also serves as chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS. 

 

The Trump administration has requested supplemental funds for the current fiscal year and substantial increases in next year’s DHS budget to address the border crisis. The panel’s chairman echoed the calls. 

 

“This is a growing crisis and we have to … pass that emergency spending bill,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said. 

 

While agreeing that more resources are needed, several lawmakers said money alone can’t resolve the situation. 

 

“I think the smartest thing we could actually do would be comprehensive immigration reform, and God willing, someday we’ll get back and do that,” Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said. 

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Migrant Surge Accelerates at US-Mexico Border 

The Trump administration on Thursday said a surge of migrant arrivals at the southern U.S. border continues to accelerate, with more than 300,000 mostly Central American undocumented immigrants apprehended or requesting asylum so far in the current fiscal year, which began last October. 

 

“We are in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border,” acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told a Senate panel. “Almost 110,000 migrants attempted to cross without legal status last month, the most in over a decade, and over 65% were families and unaccompanied children.” 

 

At the current pace, 2019’s total for migrant arrivals would more than triple the number reported for all of 2018, which was 169,000. 

Factors in migration

 

McAleenan said that while gang violence and rampant insecurity in three Central American nations has started to ebb, other factors, such as persistent droughts and a lack of economic opportunity, continue to compel a large number of people to trek north.  

The DHS acting secretary also highlighted U.S. policy as a “pull factor” for migrants. 

 

“Families [apprehended at the border] can no longer be held together through an appropriate and fair proceeding, and essentially have a guarantee of release and an indefinite stay in the United States,” McAleenan told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “It’s been exploited by smugglers who are advertising that opportunity, and that’s what’s causing the significant surge that we see this year.” 

 

The administration’s handling of migrant children continued to be a focus of congressional scrutiny after news broke earlier this week that a sixth minor — a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador — had died in U.S. government custody. 

 

“We all agree that we must absolutely secure our borders, but the death of children in custody is simply unacceptable,” the panel’s top Democrat, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, said. “We must identify what went wrong and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.” 

Overwhelmed system

 

McAleenan said he has directed that all arriving children receive health screenings, and that, on average, 65 migrants are taken to hospitals daily. Overall, he pointed to an overwhelmed system pushed to the breaking point.  

“Given the scale of what we are facing, we will exhaust our resources before the end of this fiscal year,” said McAleenan, who also serves as chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS. 

 

The Trump administration has requested supplemental funds for the current fiscal year and substantial increases in next year’s DHS budget to address the border crisis. The panel’s chairman echoed the calls. 

 

“This is a growing crisis and we have to … pass that emergency spending bill,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said. 

 

While agreeing that more resources are needed, several lawmakers said money alone can’t resolve the situation. 

 

“I think the smartest thing we could actually do would be comprehensive immigration reform, and God willing, someday we’ll get back and do that,” Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said. 

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Bank CEO Charged in Scheme to Win Job in Trump Administration

Federal prosecutors on Thursday unsealed criminal charges against Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk, accusing him of corruptly approving high-risk loans to U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for trying to secure a top job in the Trump administration.

The indictment against Calk, issued in New York, does not name Manafort directly. But the bank executive’s name repeatedly came up during Manafort’s 2018 financial fraud trial in Virginia in which prosecutors said Calk and Manafort engaged in a scheme to exchange the $16 million in loan approvals for an administration post.

Calk, 54, faces one count of financial institution bribery, which carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.

Federal Savings Bank, based in Chicago, said in a statement it is a victim of bank fraud perpetrated by Manafort. It added that Calk “has been on a complete leave of absence and has no control over or involvement with the bank” and that the bank is “not a party to the federal criminal case.” It described Calk as its “former chairman.”

Calk could not immediately be reached for comment.

He provided Manafort with a ranked wish list of government jobs that he wanted, starting with treasury secretary and followed by other top jobs in the Treasury, Commerce and Defense Departments, prosecutors said. Other possible jobs on his list included 19 ambassador posts in countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Manafort also used his influence with Trump’s post-election transition team before taking office to land Calk a formal interview for the position of under secretary of the U.S. Army in January 2017, though Calk was not selected for the position, according to the indictment.

While Calk never managed to secure a government job, the indictment said Manafort did help Calk land an appointment on a “prestigious economic advisory committee” affiliated with Trump’s campaign.

Manafort was one of the first people in Trump’s inner circle to face charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his now-completed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump campaign contacts with Moscow.

Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in the Virginia trial, and also pleaded guilty to other charges in Washington. He is serving a 7-1/2-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

The prospect of Calk facing charges emerged in a transcript of a bench discussion during the Manafort trial.

“Mr. Calk is a co-conspirator,” Greg Andres, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, said during a discussion with the judge at the bench, according to a transcript of the discussion. “And he participated in a conspiracy to defraud the bank.”

“There was an agreement between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Calk to have the loans approved,” Andres said. “They were approved and, in turn, Mr. Manafort proposed Mr. Calk for certain positions within the administration.”

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Bank CEO Charged in Scheme to Win Job in Trump Administration

Federal prosecutors on Thursday unsealed criminal charges against Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk, accusing him of corruptly approving high-risk loans to U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for trying to secure a top job in the Trump administration.

The indictment against Calk, issued in New York, does not name Manafort directly. But the bank executive’s name repeatedly came up during Manafort’s 2018 financial fraud trial in Virginia in which prosecutors said Calk and Manafort engaged in a scheme to exchange the $16 million in loan approvals for an administration post.

Calk, 54, faces one count of financial institution bribery, which carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.

Federal Savings Bank, based in Chicago, said in a statement it is a victim of bank fraud perpetrated by Manafort. It added that Calk “has been on a complete leave of absence and has no control over or involvement with the bank” and that the bank is “not a party to the federal criminal case.” It described Calk as its “former chairman.”

Calk could not immediately be reached for comment.

He provided Manafort with a ranked wish list of government jobs that he wanted, starting with treasury secretary and followed by other top jobs in the Treasury, Commerce and Defense Departments, prosecutors said. Other possible jobs on his list included 19 ambassador posts in countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Manafort also used his influence with Trump’s post-election transition team before taking office to land Calk a formal interview for the position of under secretary of the U.S. Army in January 2017, though Calk was not selected for the position, according to the indictment.

While Calk never managed to secure a government job, the indictment said Manafort did help Calk land an appointment on a “prestigious economic advisory committee” affiliated with Trump’s campaign.

Manafort was one of the first people in Trump’s inner circle to face charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his now-completed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump campaign contacts with Moscow.

Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in the Virginia trial, and also pleaded guilty to other charges in Washington. He is serving a 7-1/2-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

The prospect of Calk facing charges emerged in a transcript of a bench discussion during the Manafort trial.

“Mr. Calk is a co-conspirator,” Greg Andres, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, said during a discussion with the judge at the bench, according to a transcript of the discussion. “And he participated in a conspiracy to defraud the bank.”

“There was an agreement between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Calk to have the loans approved,” Andres said. “They were approved and, in turn, Mr. Manafort proposed Mr. Calk for certain positions within the administration.”

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Pelosi: Trump Wants to Be Impeached

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Donald Trump wants opposition Democratic lawmakers to impeach him, but that the case has yet to be made to start a formal impeachment inquiry.

She said that several ongoing investigations being conducted by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives “may take us to impeachment,” but that currently “we are not at that place.” Three dozen Democrats and a single Republican in the 435-member House have called for the start of impeachment proceedings, although even if the House were to eventually impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove him from office. 

Pelosi said, however, impeachment is “what he wants us to do.”

She said Democrats will “follow the facts” in collecting information about Trump’s financial dealings, his 28-month presidency and the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian intrusion in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether Trump tried to obstruct it.

 

She said she wishes Trump well, but that she thinks administration officials and his family need to have an “intervention” with him for the good of the country.

Pelosi’s assessment of any move toward impeaching Trump came hours after the U.S. leader unleashed new attacks on congressional Democrats investigating him, contending they are “the do-nothing party!”

“All they are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me,” Trump said on Twitter a day after he abruptly walked out of a White House meeting with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer about infrastructure spending.

Trump, incensed by Pelosi’s contention that he was “engaged in a cover-up,” which she repeated Thursday, said he would not talk about policy issues with Democratic leaders as long as they continue their investigations.

“A pure fishing expedition like this never happened before, & it should never happen again!” Trump claimed, although Republican lawmakers in recent times often investigated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state Trump defeated in the 2016 election. 

There was no indication that Democratic lawmakers would back off their investigations of Trump’s finances related to his global business empire and the Mueller report. Mueller concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to help him win, but reached no decision whether he obstructed justice. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided obstruction charges against Trump were not warranted.

Pelosi and Schumer both described Trump’s walk-out as a “temper tantrum.” Schumer told MSNBC that he believes it occurred because Trump and his aides “were so ill-prepared and afraid to actually say how they pay for infrastructure — they were unable — that they looked for a way to back out.”

On Thursday, Trump said:

After walking out of the meeting Wednesday, Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I don’t do cover-ups.”

He said investigations of him and engaging in government policy negotiations could not be conducted simultaneously.

Business, financial records

Trump continues to spar with congressional Democrats over access to his business and financial records from the years prior to his presidency when he was widely known as a New York real estate mogul.

Twice this week, federal judges have upheld congressional subpoenas for his records, at an accounting firm that handled some of his financial transactions and from Deutsche Bank, his primary lender for two decades, and Capital One Bank, where he keeps some of his money.

Meanwhile, the New York state legislature approved a measure that would authorize state tax officials to release his state tax returns to any of three congressional committees in Washington. Trump has appealed the ruling related to the accounting firm and is likely to appeal the bank information decision, as well.

Trump, unlike U.S. presidents for the past four decades, has declined to release his federal tax returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused a congressional request for the last six years of Trump’s returns.

Panel’s victory

With one exception, Trump has held Democrats at bay, for the moment, in their pursuit of information and public oversight. 

Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday his panel has won an agreement from the Justice Department to turn over 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that had been collected as part of Mueller’s investigation.

The House Intelligence panel had subpoenaed the information, and Schiff said the subpoena “will remain in effect, and be enforced” if Justice fails “to comply with the full document request.”

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Pelosi: Trump Wants to Be Impeached

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Donald Trump wants opposition Democratic lawmakers to impeach him, but that the case has yet to be made to start a formal impeachment inquiry.

She said that several ongoing investigations being conducted by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives “may take us to impeachment,” but that currently “we are not at that place.” Three dozen Democrats and a single Republican in the 435-member House have called for the start of impeachment proceedings, although even if the House were to eventually impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove him from office. 

Pelosi said, however, impeachment is “what he wants us to do.”

She said Democrats will “follow the facts” in collecting information about Trump’s financial dealings, his 28-month presidency and the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian intrusion in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether Trump tried to obstruct it.

 

She said she wishes Trump well, but that she thinks administration officials and his family need to have an “intervention” with him for the good of the country.

Pelosi’s assessment of any move toward impeaching Trump came hours after the U.S. leader unleashed new attacks on congressional Democrats investigating him, contending they are “the do-nothing party!”

“All they are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me,” Trump said on Twitter a day after he abruptly walked out of a White House meeting with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer about infrastructure spending.

Trump, incensed by Pelosi’s contention that he was “engaged in a cover-up,” which she repeated Thursday, said he would not talk about policy issues with Democratic leaders as long as they continue their investigations.

“A pure fishing expedition like this never happened before, & it should never happen again!” Trump claimed, although Republican lawmakers in recent times often investigated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state Trump defeated in the 2016 election. 

There was no indication that Democratic lawmakers would back off their investigations of Trump’s finances related to his global business empire and the Mueller report. Mueller concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to help him win, but reached no decision whether he obstructed justice. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided obstruction charges against Trump were not warranted.

Pelosi and Schumer both described Trump’s walk-out as a “temper tantrum.” Schumer told MSNBC that he believes it occurred because Trump and his aides “were so ill-prepared and afraid to actually say how they pay for infrastructure — they were unable — that they looked for a way to back out.”

On Thursday, Trump said:

After walking out of the meeting Wednesday, Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I don’t do cover-ups.”

He said investigations of him and engaging in government policy negotiations could not be conducted simultaneously.

Business, financial records

Trump continues to spar with congressional Democrats over access to his business and financial records from the years prior to his presidency when he was widely known as a New York real estate mogul.

Twice this week, federal judges have upheld congressional subpoenas for his records, at an accounting firm that handled some of his financial transactions and from Deutsche Bank, his primary lender for two decades, and Capital One Bank, where he keeps some of his money.

Meanwhile, the New York state legislature approved a measure that would authorize state tax officials to release his state tax returns to any of three congressional committees in Washington. Trump has appealed the ruling related to the accounting firm and is likely to appeal the bank information decision, as well.

Trump, unlike U.S. presidents for the past four decades, has declined to release his federal tax returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused a congressional request for the last six years of Trump’s returns.

Panel’s victory

With one exception, Trump has held Democrats at bay, for the moment, in their pursuit of information and public oversight. 

Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday his panel has won an agreement from the Justice Department to turn over 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that had been collected as part of Mueller’s investigation.

The House Intelligence panel had subpoenaed the information, and Schiff said the subpoena “will remain in effect, and be enforced” if Justice fails “to comply with the full document request.”

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