- Trump Says Congress ‘can’t Impeach’ Him
US President Donald Trump said Monday that Congress “can’t impeach” him over the findings of the Mueller report into Russian election meddling and his alleged attempts to hamper the investigation.
Defiantly insisting that he did nothing wrong, Trump also denied a semblance of dysfunction in the White House where disobedient aides are said to have saved him from committing obstruction of justice by refusing to carry out his instructions.
Asked by reporters at a White House Easter event for children whether the prospect of impeachment worries him, Trump replied: “Not even a little bit.”
“Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach,” Trump stated earlier on Twitter.
However, Democrats believe the Mueller report has revealed serious wrongdoing by the president and have yet to decide on impeachment.
The report confirmed that Russian operatives had attempted to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, including by hacking into email accounts.
The probe also found that Trump’s campaign took advantage of the impact on Clinton, but did not deliberately reach out to collude with the Russians.
During the investigation, Trump repeatedly tried to hamper Mueller’s work, the report said.
But Mueller did not rule one way or the other on whether Trump had committed the crime of obstruction of justice, effectively leaving the matter to Congress.
Democrats, who control the lower house, are so far mostly holding off from calling for impeachment proceedings, which would be immensely divisive ahead of 2020 presidential elections.
However, Democratic 2020 hopeful Kamala Harris said during a presidential town hall broadcast on CNN Monday night that she believes “Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”
That made her the second candidate to do so after Senator Elizabeth Warren called for impeachment proceedings last week.
But her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders said at the same event that while he supports a “thorough investigation,” he is concerned it may become a distraction in the bid to oust Trump in the 2020 election.
“If for the next year, year and a half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump… and we’re not talking about… all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump’s advantage,” Sanders said.
Powerful House committees still plan to dig further into the scandal and are pushing to be given the whole Mueller report, including parts currently blacked out for security or legal reasons.
“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler issued a subpoena on Monday for former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. McGahn was a key witness in the Mueller probe and will likely be asked about Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.
– ‘Nobody disobeys’ Trump? –
Trump is spinning the Mueller report as a complete exoneration. He has gone as far as saying repeatedly that the probe was a political hit job amounting to “treason” and “spying.”
Democrats, however, say the report has demonstrated in detail that Trump is unfit for office, even if the evidence would be insufficient to prove crimes in court.
Whatever the truth, Mueller’s report has inflicted damage on the former real estate tycoon and reality TV showman’s reputation through stories of close aides maneuvering to stop the president from going too far in his attempts to slow down the probe.
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote in his report.
This narrative clearly annoys Trump, who has built a career on his image as a ruthless boss, famous during his television performances on “The Apprentice” for telling contestants: “You’re fired!”
Even though the aides allegedly disobeyed him so that they could prevent more serious damage, Trump denied Monday that any sort of insubordination would be possible.
“Nobody disobeys my orders,” he said at the Easter event.
Trump also faces danger from congressional probes into his business interests and tax history, which — in a break with tradition — he has refused to make public.
On Monday, Trump and his businesses filed a Washington federal court lawsuit to try and block a subpoena issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to gain access to their financial records.
COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations
African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations
African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.
He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.
He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.
“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.”
He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.
China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations
China Calls for China-U.S. Relations
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.
Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.
Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.
Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.
Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.
“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.
“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”
Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.
Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.
The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.
The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.
“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.
Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.
Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.
Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.
Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.
The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.
Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.
In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.
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