Hope Hicks to give closed-door testimony before House
The Washington Post is reporting that Hope Hicks, a former aid to President Trump, will testify before the House judiciary committee next Wednesday.
Though the testimony will take place behind closed doors, the transcript will be released to the public, according to the Post’s sources:
Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Hicks might not answer many of the panel’s questions, citing the president’s assertion of executive privilege on events that occurred inside the White House.
Earlier this month, the White House instructed Hicks not to cooperate with a congressional subpoena for documents related to her White House service.
Robert Trout, a lawyer for Hicks, declined to comment.
The committee subpoenaed Hicks, the former communications director, last month as part of its obstruction of justice investigation related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The president has been fighting the committee’s attempts to bring forth witnesses, and this interview marks a significant triumph for House Democrats.
at 10.13pm BST
Hello everybody, Vivian Ho taking over for Oliver Laughland. Hope you’re all having a superb Wednesday.
Democrats in the House Oversight Committee have just voted to hold US attorney general William Barr and Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of congress. The vote relates to the refusal to hand over documents related to the decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census.
Donald Trump continued to obfuscate over a letter he received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and denied he was against US intelligence services activities in the region.
Donald Trump Jr briefly appeared at a closed door senate intelligence hearing and said he is not worried about any potential perjury allegations.
Bernie Sanders delivered an impassioned speech at George Washington University in defence of his political ideology.
I’m handing over to my colleague Vivian Ho in San Francisco now.
House Democrats vote to hold Trump officials in contempt
House Democrats have voted in the Oversight Committee to hold the US attorney general, William Barr, and the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, in contempt of congress over their failure to supply documents relating to the citizenship question in the 2020 census.
The vote had been delayed from earlier this morning after President Trump exerted executive privilege over the requested documents.
The committee’s vote will now go to the full house and represents a significant escalation in the ongoing battle over next year’s census.
The Associated Press continues:
Democrats fear the citizenship question will reduce census participation in immigrant-heavy communities and result in a severe undercount of minority voters. They say they want specific documents to determine why Ross added the question to the 2020 census and contend the administration has declined to provide the documents despite repeated requests.
The administration has turned over more than 17,000 of pages of documents and Ross testified for nearly seven hours in March. The Justice Department said two senior officials were interviewed by committee staff and said officials were working to produce tens of thousands of additional pages of relevant documents.
The oversight panel’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, disputed the Justice Department’s account and said most of the documents turned over to the committee had already been made public.
“We must protect the integrity of the census and we must stand up for Congress’ authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Cummings said Wednesday.
at 10.01pm BST
Sticking with the 2020 race, we have a report that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is taking time off from exploring a presidential run.
Hallie Golden has a quick story for us:
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will be taking the summer off from exploring his potential 2020 bid for the US presidency. In a statement released Wednesday, Schultz said he experienced “acute back pain” while he was traveling in Arizona as part of his campaign work, and ultimately had to undergo three back surgeries. He said he has decided to spend the summer focused on rest and rehabilitation.
“I take this detour from the road reluctantly,” Schultz said. “My concern for our country’s future remains, as does my belief that the American people deserve so much more from our elected officials.”
In January, the billionaire announced he would explore a potential run for the presidency as an independent candidate. The news sparked a backlash from leading Democrats worried such a move could help President Donald Trump win his reelection bid in 2020.
Schultz has spent months traveling to 15 states, talking with thousands of local residents as part of his campaign. In January, he visited his home town of Seattle to promote his new book and was greeted by dozens of protestors. He said he will be back in touch after Labor Day.
We’ll return to the Democratic 2020 campaign for a short while and to my colleague Adam Gabbatt who spent the morning with Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke here in New York.
O’Rourke, whose campaign has dropped off in recent weeks according to some polls was her to take part in a morning run with LGBTQ activists.
Here’s Adam’s report:
O’Rourke turned up right on time, ready for action. The 47-year-old was decked out in full running garb for the two-mile jog, mid-thigh shorts displaying willowy legs. He was wearing an Iowa Cubs baseball hat, which seemed on message given the importance of the Hawkeye State in the Democratic primaries.
“Everybody ready to run?” O’Rourke asked the roughly 30 people who had assembled on a popular running path close to the Hudson River. There was a muted response. “Two miles is all we’re doing,” he added, which served to lift spirits a little.
With that, O’Rourke bolted off down the pathway, surrounded by people who appeared to have varied levels of commitment to running. Most were wearing the customary shorts, T-shirts and trainers, but one man had opted for the less orthodox white denim jeans, while another wore cut-offs.
Federal prosecutors have revealed that they are developing a national security case against the Chinese woman arrested at Donald Trump’s private member’s club in south Florida and charged with unlawful entry.
Yujing Zhang, the 33-year-old, was caught attempting to enter Mar-a-Lago with a thumb drive infected with malware in April this year.
The Miami Herald reports that prosecutors have requested that certain evidence in the case is held under seal as it includes classified information, an indication that Zhang could face far more serious charges than the ones already laid out.
Their full report is here.
Away from today’s activities at the White House, Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders has been addressing the George Washington University in DC.
His speech has been billed as a major defence of his political philosophy. My colleague, Lauren Gambino was there and will be filing a story shortly. Here are a few of her observations on Twitter:
Standing ovation for @BernieSanders when he quotes Roosevelt campaigning in 1936: “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”
June 12, 2019
After the cheers and applause died down, Sanders laughed and ad-libbed: “I must say it does sound a little contemporary doesn’t it?” https://t.co/ADhYtbZl26
June 12, 2019
Sanders, making the case for democratic socialism, talks about FDR’s New Deal: “The New Deal was extremely popular politically and helped defeat far right extremism [dramatic pause] for a time.”
June 12, 2019
You can also read Lauren’s excellent piece from yesterday that includes exerts from Sanders’s expected speech. She assures me he stuck to the script.
Trump is asked another question about his recent letter from Kim Jong-un and an intimation made yesterday that he does not support US intelligence agencies operations in the secretive east Asian state.
Trump dodges the question again and states: “There’s been no nuclear testing whatsoever [in North Korea].” He reiterates that he received a “nice letter” from Kim and adds: “Right now we have a very good relationship. Maybe better than its been for 25 years. Maybe forever.”
Duda is asked about Poland’s relationship with Russia, specifically whether he views Russian president Vladimir Putin as an ally. Trump interjects before Duda answers calling the question a “set up question”. Duda gives a straight answer: “I would very much like Russia to be a friend of Poland. It is our great neighbour.”
The pair take a couple more questions on procedural issues relating to immigration ties between the two countries and then the press conference is over.
at 8.14pm BST
The two heads of states are now taking a few questions from reporters.
Trump is asked whether transferring around 2000 troops to a base in Poland is a snub to the state of Germany over its decision to proceed with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia.
Trump denies that’s the case but adds: “I will tell you very strongly that I think Germany is making tremendous mistake by relying on the pipeline.”
He adds: “Poland has been a tremendous friend of ours for a long time… Our relationship is just a very strong one.”
Trump is then asked about a letter he received yesterday from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, specifically he is asked whether the White House is planning a third summit with North Korea.
He does not answer the latter, but describes the letter as a “Very nice letter. Unexpected.” He adds: “Some day you’ll hear about what as in that letter.”
We’re back at the White House now as Donald Trump and Polish president Andrzej Duda hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden. The press conference was preceded by fly over from a F35 fighter jet, of which the Polish state has just purchased a significant number of.
The press conference is viewable here. We’ll bring you highlights:
Lunch time summary
Here’s how things stand at lunchtime today:
Donald Trump exerted executive privilege over a suite of documents relating to the 2020 US census. The move led house democrats to postpone a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr and Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Trump met with Polish president Andrzej Duda and announced he was considering moving an additional 2000 US troops to Poland.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, made a brief appearance at a closed door Senate Intelligence hearing. He told reporters afterwards he has no fear of a perjury investigation following his appearance.
Trump is scheduled for another appearance with his Polish counterpart later today at the White House Rose Garden.
at 7.33pm BST
There were a few lines to digest from that impromptu presser. But sticking with today’s main news on the 2020 census, Trump responded to a question on his decision to exert executive privilege on Justice Department documents relating to the decision to add a citizenship question.
Trump conceded he was not completely across the issue as it is a “legal matter” but added: “I think when you have a census and you’re not allowed to talk about when someone is a citizens or not, that doesn’t sound very good to me.”
He continued: “I think it’s totally ridiculous that we would have a census that wouldn’t ask it…I think you have the right to ask.”
It’s worth reminding readers here again that the census is not a citizenship test but a measure of the US population. It is a central part of American democracy that plays a pivotal role in determining representation in the US congress.
Trump also confirmed he would meet with Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka. He joked that he may allow reporters into the room this time.