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Trump seeks end to impeachment inquiry as tensions intensify

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(Xinhua/NAN) U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for an end to the Democratic party-led impeachment inquiry, one day after the White House announced an uncooperative stance and House Democrats accused it of obstruction.


In a series of morning tweets, Trump said “for the good of the country,” the Democrats’ effort to remove him from office “should end now!”


Trump also said the whistleblower, who filed a complaint in August alleging that the president communicated inappropriately with the Ukrainian president “should be exposed and questioned properly.”


Facing an increasingly intense impeachment investigation led by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees, Trump reiterated that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a “no pressure conversation,” and that the whistleblower’s accounts “have been so incorrect”.


White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in a letter on Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the three aforementioned committees, said that Trump and his administration would not cooperate with what he called the “partisan and unconstitutional inquiry”.


Pelosi responded later in the same day in a statement, saying the White House was engaged in “continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people.’’


Pelosi added that such actions “will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction.”


Pelosi’s assertions echoed those of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who told a press conference on Tuesday that the State Department’s decision to prohibit U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, a key witness of related events, from attending a testimony scheduled for Tuesday is “additional strong evidence of obstruction.”


Trump, for his part, continued to frame the impeachment proceedings as stemming from his political opponents’ partisan motive.


He tweeted that the whistleblower’s identity should be made public because “this is no whistleblower. The Whistleblower’s lawyer is a big Democrat.” (Xinhua/NAN)


FAT/YEE

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)

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`No Knelling’: Trump renews criticism of protests during United States anthem

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President Donald Trump on Friday lobbed barbs at protesters who kneel during the national anthem, after NFL quarterback Drew Brees apologised for remarks he made about the practice.

Brees said this week he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” referring to the possibility of players kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” in the upcoming NFL season.

Brees apologised on Thursday, saying his words “lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.”

The kneeling pose, popularised by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has become a symbol of the fight for racial justice in the United States.

Trump tweeted on Friday that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance.

“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute or a hand on heart,” Trump wrote. “There are other things you can protest but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”

The kneeling pose has been seen at protests in cities across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Brees’ initial remarks angered top athletes, who objected to the equating of the protest with disrespecting the American flag.

The New Orleans Saints player responded to Trump Friday night in a lengthy social media post in which he said “we can no longer use the flag to turn people away.

“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality and judicial & prison reform,” Brees wrote on Instagram.

Kaepernick popularised the move in 2016, appearing on NFL sidelines first sitting and later kneeling during the customary pre-game airing of the United States national anthem.

Trump was an early critic of the protest and in 2017, Vice-President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game when some of the players knelt on the sidelines during the anthem.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Merkel allies criticise Trump decision to cut United States troops in Germany

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Senior lawmakers, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative bloc, on Saturday, criticised President Donald Trump’s decision to order the United States military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany.

The move would reduce United States troop’s numbers in Germany to 25,000, from 34,500.

“The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary leadership task: the involvement of alliance partners in decision-making processes,’’ Johann Wadephul, foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, told Reuters.

All NATO partners benefited from the cohesion of the alliance, and only Russia and China gain from discord, Wadephul said, adding: “This should be given more attention in Washington’’.

Wadephul also spoke of a “further wake-up call” to Europeans to position themselves better in terms of security policy.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Andreas Nick, like Wadephul a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, told Deutsche Welle the indications were that “the decision was not a technical but a purely politically motivated decision’’.

A United States official, who did not want to be identified, said on Friday the move was the result of months of work by the top United States military officer, General Mark Milley, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.

The withdrawal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency.

Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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After Trump tweet debate, Facebook to review policies on posts

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to review the social network’s policies, amid heated debate over how social media should handle posts by United States President Donald Trump.

The company will review how it handles threats of state use of force and posts that could influence voter participation, the social network’s chief executive said in a post on Facebook.

It will also look into alternatives to simply removing a post or leaving it as it stands.

“I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week,” he wrote in a message to employees, but added that he worries such an approach risks leading Facebook to “editorialise on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies.”

So I think we need to proceed very carefully,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg has come under pressure from the public and his own employees after Twitter placed a “public interest notice” on a Trump post for violating the platform’s rules “about glorifying violence,” a move not mirrored by Facebook.

In the tweet, which was also visible on his Facebook page, Trump slammed demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as “THUGS” and appeared to promote a violent response by saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Zuckerberg said last week that the post did not violate Facebook’s guidelines, even if he personally disapproved.

His public position is that internet platforms, including Facebook, should not be “arbiters of truth.”

Facebook largely exempts politicians’ posts from fact checks.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Biden clinches Democratic bid to face Trump in election

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Former vice president Joe Biden on Friday claimed victory in the Democratic Party race to take on President Donald Trump in the November election.

“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded – and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden passed the 1,991-delegate threshold required to seize the nomination, according to data by the Associated Press.

The victory is largely symbolic as Biden has been the only candidate left in the Democratic race after left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders bowed out in April.

More than a dozen states have delayed their primary contests or switched to voting-by-mail due to public health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden is a long-time member of the party establishment, having served as a senator for decades, and was vice president under former president Barack Obama.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Trump directs United States troops reduction in Germany: media

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United States President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to reduce United States military presence in Germany by September, United States media reported on Friday.

Citing United States government officials, The Wall Street Journal said in a Friday piece that the move would reduce 9,500 troops from the 34,500 troops that are permanently assigned in Germany.

The move also limits the size of United States troops deployed in Germany at any one time at the 25,000-troop level. According to the report, overall troop levels under current practice can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.

The report came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said due to the coronavirus pandemic, she will not attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House in late June.

A person familiar with the matter was quoted as saying that the troops’ reduction plan had been discussed within the administration for months and was not linked to Merkel’s decision on G7 Summit.

The reduction plan might further strain the relations between Washington and Berlin. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among others.

(XINHUA)

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Washington mayor asks Trump to remove federal forces

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The mayor of the United States capital city, Washington, has formally asked President Donald Trump to remove federal forces from the district.

The forces were deployed amid protests over police brutality, which in some instances descended into rioting.

Mayor Muriel Bowser noted in her letter to the president that there were no fresh arrests in recent days of sustained protests and asked that the troops leave “our city.”

The mayor has come across as being subtly supportive of the protests and more overtly has been pushing back against federal heavy-handed tactics in the city.

Washington is not a state, under the constitution, and has a unique status. It was granted “Home Rule,” though the federal government still has influence and power.

Federal property throughout the city is under the Federal Government’s control.

The federal troops have at times seen the most intense clashes with protesters demonstrating over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota, including using tear gas outside the White House.

Among the federal forces were poorly identified members of various Justice Department agencies, including the Bureau of Prisons riot control teams.

The incidents have renewed the debate over statehood for the district. Bowser posted a tweet in favour of the move this week. Republicans in Congress are opposed.

Stand with DC now… or later wonder how it happened to your state,” Bowser said on Twitter, referring to federal overreach. dpa/NAN)

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Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

 

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D.C. mayor asks Trump to withdraw federal law enforcement, troops dealing with protests

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Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday requested that President Donald Trump “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” in the nation’s capital after the president sent in forces to tackle the protests related to the death of George Floyd.

Bowser, a Democrat of African-American descent, wrote in a letter that she has ended the state of emergency in the district related to demonstrations against the death of Floyd, a black man killed last week under the custody of white police in Minneapolis.

The mayor noted that protests in the capital have been “peaceful,” and that the Metropolitan Police Department, for the second consecutive night, “did not make a single arrest” Thursday night.

“I continue to be concerned that unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C. pose both safety and national security risks,” Bowser told Trump in the letter, adding that federal law enforcement personnel and equipment “are inflaming demonstrations and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”

Trump, whose threat to deploy active-duty military forces to quell the protests has drawn harsh and broad condemnation from both current and former officials, said Friday that his plan to address racism in the country is to provide a strong economy for the African American community.

While touting the unexpected decline in unemployment in May, the president said at the White House Rose Garden that a strong economy is “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations” as well as minorities including African Americans.

(XINHUA)

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Trump finds himself isolated among allies: United States media

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After having experienced years of American unilateralism, United States allies in Europe no longer believe that President Donald Trump will offer them much, reported The New York Times.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision earlier this week of declining to attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House later this month was the most obvious evidence, said an article published Tuesday in the newspaper.

Merkel cited the unabated pandemic as the reason, but a senior German official noted that it was not the case, said the article.

“She believed that proper diplomatic preparations had not been made; she did not want to be part of an anti-China display; she opposed Mr. Trump‘s idea of inviting the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin; she did not want to be seen as interfering in American domestic politics,” the official was quoted as saying, adding the chancellor was shocked by Trump’s unilateral decision to pull out of the World Health Organization.

Likewise, French President Emmanuel Macron, said the article, believed that Trump had damaged European security through his unilateral abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal and nearly every arms control agreement with Russia.

“As so often in the past, on issues like unilateral American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal or the Paris climate accord or the Open Skies treaty or the sudden ban on air travel from Europe, Mr. Trump ignored the views of allies or did not consult them at all,” it said.

Trump’s opposition to all these international institutions and agreements is “outrageous for Europeans like Merkel and Macron who have multilateralism in their DNA,” the article quoted William Drozdiak, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, as saying.

(XINHUA)

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Merkel evades question about Trump’s role in polarising United States society

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Merkel

Berlin, Jun 4, 2020  German Chancellor Angela Merkel

was evasive when asked during a TV programme about whether President Donald Trump is responsible for police violence and racism in the United States.

“I believe that his leadership style is controversial,’’ Merkel said, in response to the question of whether Trump is polarising the country, which has seen massive protests nationwide over the killing of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of white police officers.

Asked by broadcaster ZDF whether she still trusted Trump, Merkel answered: “I work with the world’s elected presidents.

“And of course this includes the American president.

And I hope that the country can be pacified’’.

The chancellor said she didn’t talk about the things she discusses with Trump in public.

“I can only hope that Americans are able to work together,’’ she said, adding that she was glad that many in the United States were contributing to this aim.

Merkel also spoke about the “murder” of Floyd, calling it “racism,” and said: “Racism is something horrible’’.

She added that she trusted in the United States’ democratic system to deal with the difficult situation.

“Racism has always existed, unfortunately also in Germany,’’ she said.

“So we are now putting our own house in order and hope that there are also enough people in the United States who simply want to protest peacefully.’’

Since the death of Floyd, many United States cities have seen protests against police violence and racism, sometimes ending in looting and riots.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

 
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