No sign of end to standoff over Trump impeachment trial

By Susan Cornwell and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday there would be no haggling with the Democratic-led House of Representatives over the rules for U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

With lawmakers’ shifting their attention to the U.S.-Iran tensions, McConnell said he would not be pressured by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has effectively delayed Trump’s trial by refusing to send the Senate the two articles of impeachment approved by the House last month.

“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure. We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment,” McConnell said on the Senate floor a day after he announced he had enough Republican votes to start the trial without agreeing to Democrats’ demands for the introduction of new witness testimony and documentary evidence.

McConnell, who has pledged to coordinate the trial with the White House, accused Pelosi of wanting to keep Trump “in limbo” indefinitely.

Some Senate Democrats are now saying that Pelosi should release the impeachment articles so that the trial can get underway. But there appeared to be no clamor from Pelosi’s fellow Democrats in the House for a change in her strategy.

“We need to know what the plan is,” Democratic Representative Gregory Meeks.

House Democrats’ meeting Wednesday morning focused on hostilities with Iran, not impeachment, lawmakers said.

Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian military commander last week. Trump administration officials are expected to brief lawmakers later on Wednesday.

The House last month charged Trump with abusing his power for personal gain in connection with his effort to pressure Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in November’s presidential election.

It also charged the Republican president with obstructing Congress by directing administration officials and agencies not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House brings impeachment charges and the Senate holds the subsequent trial to decide whether to remove a president from office. A two-thirds majority of the Senate is needed to do so.

Trump, who says he did nothing wrong and has dismissed his impeachment as a partisan bid to undo his 2016 election win, is likely to be acquitted in the trial, as no Republicans have voiced support for ousting him from office.

McConnell has said that Senate rules prevent it from starting the trial until the House sends it the articles of impeachment.

Pelosi said late on Tuesday that McConnell should reveal the Senate’s plans for the coming trial in a written resolution before she agrees to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Paul Simao)

President Trump presides over July 4th holiday with military show

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump smiles as he as walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington from South Korea, U.S., June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will preside over July Fourth Independence Day celebrations on Thursday with a speech about patriotism and a show of military might that critics say is politicizing an important holiday and wasting taxpayer money.

Trump, a Republican who admired flashy displays of national pride and military strength put on by France, has dismissed concerns about the expense and militaristic overtones of the Washington event, which will take place in front of the Lincoln Memorial and feature fireworks, a flyover by Air Force One and a display of tanks.

Democrats charge the president with staging a campaign rally. Though the White House has said his remarks would not be political in nature, the president has a history of veering off script with sharp partisan attacks even at events that are not meant to be overtly political.

“People are coming from far and wide to join us today and tonight for what is turning out to be one of the biggest celebrations in the history of our Country,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

He is set to give a speech at 6:30 p.m. ET (2230 GMT), followed by fireworks later in the evening. Asked earlier this week if he could give a speech that would represent all Americans, he said he thought he could and then launched into an attack on Democrats’ policies on healthcare and taxes.

Flights will be suspended at nearby Reagan National Airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET (2215 to 2345 GMT) and then again later in the evening for the festivities. “Perhaps even Air Force One will do a low & loud sprint over the crowd,” Trump tweeted, encouraging people to get there early.

Some at the White House were worried about the crowd size, according to an administration official. Trump fumed about reports in 2017 that the crowd at his inauguration ceremony on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol was smaller than it was for President Barack Obama. The Lincoln Memorial is at the opposite end of the monument-covered Mall.

Republican political groups were given prime tickets for Trump’s speech, and the Washington Post reported that the U.S. National Park Service diverted $2.5 million in park entrance fees to help pay for the event.

“Instead of addressing something like veteran homelessness, he’s spending it on boosting his ego with a parade that’s fundamentally about him and then getting tickets in the hands of wealthy donors for the Republican Party. What a waste of money,” Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said on CBS “This Morning” on Wednesday.

Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders also weighed in with criticism: “This is what authoritarians do: @realDonaldTrump is taking $2.5 million away from our National Park Service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington,” he wrote in a tweet.

Trump downplayed the expense.

“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel,” he posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!” Andrews is the name of a nearby military base.

The July 4th holiday celebrates the U.S. founders’ declaring independence from Britain in 1776.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

‘Thank You’ – Queen Elizabeth, President Trump and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Charles, Prince of Wales, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Dylan Martinez and Steve Holland

PORTSMOUTH, England (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth was joined by world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, paying personal tribute to the veterans of the largest seaborne invasion in history which helped bring World War Two to an end.

The queen, Prince Charles, presidents and prime ministers rose to applaud veterans, their coats heavy with medals, as they stood on a giant stage beside a guard of honor after a film of the Normandy landings was shown.

“The wartime generation – my generation – is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today,” the 93-year-old queen, wearing bright pink, said.

“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten. It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country and indeed the whole free world that I say to you all: thank you.”

Prime Minister Theresa May was joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by U.S. President Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain, and his wife, Melania.

Trump read a prayer given by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944: “The enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Merkel, and leaders and senior figures from 10 other countries also attended.

Soldiers stay stand for the event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Soldiers stay stand for the event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BLOOD AND THUNDER

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area to begin the air, sea and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from the Nazi regime.

By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for almost three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.

The invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 50-mile (80-km) stretch of the French coast.

Shortly after midnight, thousands of paratroopers were dropped. Then came the naval bombardment of German positions overlooking the shore. Then the infantry arrived on the beaches.

Mostly American, British and Canadian men, some just boys, waded ashore as German soldiers tried to kill them with machine guns and artillery. Survivors say the sea was red with blood and the air boiling with the thunder of explosions.

Thousands were killed on both sides. Line upon line of white crosses honor the dead in cemeteries across northern France. Even the codenames of the sectors of the invasion – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – can draw tears from veterans.

“I was terrified. I think everyone was,” said John Jenkins, 99, a veteran who landed at Gold Beach. “You never forget your comrades because we were all in it together.”

The commemorations featured an hour-long performance recounting the wartime events and a flypast by historic, military aircraft. Afterwards, world leaders met veterans of the landings.

The queen, President Trump, Melania and Prince Charles shook hands with half a dozen veterans were waiting for them, exchanging a few words and asking them about their stories from D-Day.

Sixteen countries attended the commemorations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

They agreed a proclamation to “ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated”.

Merkel said Germany’s liberation from National Socialism brought about something “of which we can be proud.”

“Reconciliation, and unity within Europe, but also the entire post-war order, which brought us peace, for more than seven decades so far,” she said. “That I can be here as German Chancellor, that together we can stand for peace and freedom – that is a gift from history that we must cherish and preserve.”

On Wednesday evening, some 300 veterans who took part on D-Day, all now older than 90, will leave Portsmouth on a specially commissioned ship, MV Boudicca, and retrace their 1944 journey across the English Channel, accompanied by Royal Navy vessels and a lone wartime Spitfire fighter plane.

(Writing by Michael Holden and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Frances Kerry and Toby Chopra)

Trump will send 1,500 troops to Middle East

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops in an unannounced visit to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.

He said the deployment involved a relatively small number of troops.

The forces would help strengthen American defenses in the region, two sources told Reuters earlier on condition of anonymity. They said the forces included engineers.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Pompeo says China trade deal has ‘got to be right’: interview

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Trump will reject a U.S.-China trade deal that is not perfect, but the United States would still keep working on an agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a media interview.

“Things are in a good place, but it’s got to be right,” Pompeo told Sinclair Broadcasting Group, according to a transcript released by the State Department on Tuesday.

Asked if Trump would walk away from any deal that was not perfect, Pompeo said, “Yes” and pointed to the Republican president’s rejection of an agreement with North Korea at a summit last week in Hanoi.

Trump last week said that he was willing to abandon trade talks with China, but U.S. advisers in recent days have signaled more positive outcomes.

Pompeo made his remarks following stops in Iowa, where he was attending a conference for farmers, who have been caught up in the ongoing trade war with the world’s top two economies.

“This has to work for America. If it doesn’t work, we’ll keep banging away at it. We’re going to get to the right outcome. I’m confident that we will,” Pompeo told Sinclair.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Suspect in California shooting in U.S. illegally, prompting Trump tweet

A still photo taken from surveillance video of an unidentified alleged gunman involved in the shooting death of 33-year-old police officer Ronil Singh, in Newman, California, U.S., December 26, 2018. Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department/Handout via REUTERS

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A suspect wanted in the shooting death of a California police officer was believed to be in the United States illegally, a county sheriff said on Thursday as President Donald Trump cited the manhunt in his push for a wall on the border with Mexico.

Trump tweeted about the shooting on the sixth day of a shutdown of the federal government, which was triggered by his $5 billion demand, largely opposed by Democrats and some lawmakers in Trump’s own Republican party, for the wall he wants to build.

A police officer for the city of Newman, a small Northern California town, was shot and killed there on Wednesday, after pulling over a suspect on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

The suspect, whose name has not been released, exchanged gunfire with the officer before fleeing, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told reporters. The officer, identified as 33-year-old Ronil Singh, was struck by gunfire and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“This suspect is in our country illegally,” Christianson said at a news conference. “He doesn’t belong here, he’s a criminal. We will find him we will arrest him and we will bring him to justice.”

Trump, during his campaign for president and in the White House, has often highlighted crimes by people who came to the United States without authorization as he has pushed for tougher enforcement of immigration laws.

“There is right now a full scale manhunt going on in California for an illegal immigrant accused of shooting and killing a police officer during a traffic stop,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”

Christianson did not give the nationality of the suspect or say how long he was believed to have been in the United States without authorization.

A Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office spokesman could not be reached for further comment.

The suspect is believed to still be in Stanislaus County, a largely agricultural area less than 50 miles (80 km) east of San Jose, Christianson said.

Singh was a native of Fiji who immigrated to the United States to become a police officer, Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson told reporters.

“He was never in a bad mood, it was unreal, he loved what he did,” Richardson said at the news conference, breaking down in tears at times.

During the traffic stop, Singh told emergency dispatchers shots had been fired, authorities said, but the suspect fled in a Dodge Ram pickup truck before other officers could arrive.

 

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Grant McCool)

Mexico suggests work visas for Central Americans, wants U.S. to do same

Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador proposed on Wednesday offering more work visas for Central Americans and said the United States should do the same, part of a negotiation aimed at stemming the northward flow of migrants.

Lopez Obrador, who took office on Saturday, said he would discuss immigration with U.S. President Donald Trump in coming days, including increasing investment in southern Mexico and Central America.

“We are proposing investment in productive projects and in job creation, and not only that, also work visas for Mexico and for the United States,” he told a news conference, saying he would give more details “soon.”

Mexico and the United States have been in talks about how to manage the large groups moving through Mexico in caravans, with Lopez Obrador pushing for investment to address the poverty and crime that drive thousands of people every year from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Lopez Obrador, soon after being elected in July, sent a letter to Trump suggesting they work together to address the root causes of immigration.

“It is very important to us that we reach an investment agreement between companies and governments, to create jobs in Central America and our country,” he said.

Lopez Obrador plans major infrastructure projects in the impoverished south of Mexico including his home state of Tabasco. He says those plans, including a refinery and two railways will provide jobs to Mexicans and Central Americans.

He did not reply when asked if his government was considering a U.S. proposal to return Central American asylum seekers to Mexican territory while U.S. courts processed their cases, saying only that their rights would be respected.

The arrival of several thousand Central Americans in Mexico’s border city of Tijuana about a month ago prompted Trump to mobilize the U.S. Army to beef up border security, while restricting the number of asylum applications accepted per day.

While overall illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is much lower than it was 20 years ago, there are more Central Americans, families and asylum seekers than in the past.

Some migrants clambered over a tall fence to cross into the United States from Tijuana on Tuesday, hoping to speed their asylum applications by turning themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol officials.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Peter Cooney)

Trump cancels Putin meeting over Ukraine crisis

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to the G20 Summit in Argentina from the White House in Washington, U.S., November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday suddenly canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for this week’s Group of 20 industrialized nations summit in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.

“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” Trump tweeted after departing for the G20 summit.

Trump’s tweet was a sudden turnaround. Roughly an hour earlier, he had told reporters he would probably meet with Putin at the summit and said it was “a very good time to have the meeting.”

But Trump had also said he would get a final report during the flight to Argentina on the tension in the region after Russia seized Ukrainian vessels near Crimea on Sunday.

Differences over Ukraine, as well as Moscow’s role in the civil war in Syria, have been an irritant in U.S.-Russian relations for years.

The administration of former President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. That in part brought ties between Washington and Moscow to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

Since then, the United States has investigated Russia’s possible interference in the 2016 presidential election that Trump won. Russia has denied meddling and Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)

Trump’s U.N. envoy: ‘Every day I feel like I put body armor on’

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses a United Nations General Assembly meeting ahead of a vote on a draft resolution that would deplore the use of excessive force by Israeli troops against Palestinian civilians at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump came into office disparaging the United Nations and appointed politician Nikki Haley as the ambassador to carry out his disruptive agenda, but she has also shown Trump how the world body serves his purposes, specifically on North Korea.

The U.N. Security Council’s unanimous adoption of tougher sanctions three times last year that put pressure on Pyongyang to enter talks on scrapping its nuclear weapons program is the example Haley gave Trump in a phone call in June.

In an interview with Reuters, Haley recalled telling Trump: “We would not be in the situation we are with North Korea without the U.N. because that was the only way to get the international community on the same page.”

The United States and other countries believe the sanctions helped to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un around to meeting with Trump at a historic summit in Singapore in June.

Haley said Trump asked her what she thought of the United Nations, then 17 months into her post and after the United States became the first country to quit the U.N. Human Rights Council. She said she rattled off a litany of complaints.

“Unbelievably bureaucratic, it wastes a lot of money, it has some real biases against Israel, against us at times, it ignores a lot that’s going on that needs attention.”

Haley’s relay of their phone call illustrates how she guides the president who shuns the international forums and pacts the United States has helped build over decades. When Trump took office, he called the U.N. “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

Some diplomats have said they see the former South Carolina governor as the stable face of U.S. foreign policy. When Trump leaves them confused, some say they look to her for interpretation.

“My job is to give clarity to everything the administration’s doing so that no one wonders where we are. I always wanted to make sure there was no gray. That it was black and white,” Haley said in the interview during a trip last month to India, the country from which her parents emigrated to the United States.

Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, described Haley’s job as selling the “administration’s anti-U.N. positions to the public.”

“That annoys other diplomats,” Gowan added.

RUSSIA TENSIONS

Haley has long taken a tougher public stance on Russia than her boss. In May she described Russian expansionism in Ukraine as “outrageous” and said the U.S. position “will not waver.”

Days later, however, Trump urged the Group of Seven countries to reinstate Russia, booted out for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Two weeks before Trump’s July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Haley told Reuters that “basically what the president is saying is it’s better for us to have communication than not.”

But then the summit turned into a nightmare for the White House when Trump, at the joint news conference, sided with Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election rather than the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies.

A political outcry in Washington drowned out Trump’s message that the two nuclear powers should improve their relations, which are at a post-Cold War low.

Haley has not responded to Reuters’ requests for comment on the summit.

Differences over Russia also caused rare public friction for Haley within the administration when she announced in April that Washington was going to sanction Moscow over its support of Syria’s government. Trump then decided not to go ahead.

“The president has every right to change his mind, every right,” Haley said. Trump never raised the incident with her, she said.

Her U.N. counterparts describe her as charming and yet very tough. She sees herself as a fighter.

“I don’t see (my role) as pushing an ‘America First’ policy, I see it as defending America because every day I feel like I put body armor on. I just don’t know who I’m fighting that day,” Haley said.

Haley carved out a high-profile role within the Trump administration from the moment she was offered the job, telling the president she would only accept it if she was made a member of the Cabinet and the National Security Council.

“She’s got an eye and ear for where the politics of an issue are,” said a senior Western diplomat, who, like all those consulted at the United Nations, would only speak on condition of anonymity.

Those kinds of instincts have helped put the 46-year-old mother of two on the list of possible Republican presidential candidates. She dismisses the presidential chatter and said it has never come up with Trump, who intends to run again in 2020, “because he knows he doesn’t need to raise it.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)