House panel votes to hold Trump officials in contempt over census citizenship question – live

Version 15 of 21.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation ordering state flags be lowered to half-staff and asking Floridians to pause to remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed in 2016.

The problem? He made no mention of the gay community that was targeted that night three years ago, something that Democratic state Representative Anna Eskamani called him out on via Twitter.

@GovRonDeSantis has stripped any mention of the #LGBTQ community in remembering #Pulse. This is completely straight-washed and an insult to #HD47.Based on these side-by-side Pulse proclamations, Governor Rick Scott was a better friend to LGBTQ Floridians than DeSantis.

The Associated Press is reporting that when the governor was asked about the omission at a bill signing in Jacksonville, he claimed he wasn’t involved in drafting the original proclamation.

“When someone said that this wasn’t in there, I said, ‘Well, then put it in there.’ So we fixed it,” he said. “Obviously, we flew the flags at half staff and that was the reason we put out the proclamation. Sometimes these things happen and you’ve just got to correct it.”

It appears that in addition to correcting the original proclamation, DeSantis has since made his planned visit to Pulse on the anniversary.

Thank you @GovRonDeSantis & First Lady @FLCaseyDeSantis for visiting #Pulse in #HD47— I thanked both for correcting the Proclamation and asserted the importance of working together to pass #equality policy for our state. I won’t stop fighting for our #LGBTQ community, ever.

At a roundtable discussion on stopping opioid abuse and reducing drug trafficking, acting homeland secretary Kevin McAleenan told the president that the wall along the southern border is getting built at a rate of about two miles a week.

From the pool report:

“How is the wall coming along?” President Trump asked in relation to drug trafficking.

“It is coming along aggressively,” McAleenan responded. “We built two miles last week; we are up to about two miles per week right now so extending that capability across key sectors.”

“And you will have, by the end of next year, how much?” Trump asked.

“By the end of next year, it will be over 400 miles,” McAleenan answered.

“Over 400 miles, and we have to kick and scream for every inch because the Democrats will just not give us what we need,” Trump said. “In fact, I think we will be very close to 500 miles by the end of the year, which would be great. It will have a huge impact.”

Representative Justin Amash, the first Republican to call for the impeachment of President Trump, has broken from the party line once again in voting to hold attorney general William Barr and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas related to the 2020 census.

Rep Justin Amash R-MI voted with Democrats on the House Oversight Committee to find AG Barr & Commerce Secy Ross in contempt

This comes a day after Amash voted against the resolution authorizing House judiciary committee chair Jerry Nadler to go to court to enforce congressional subpoenas.

#HRes430 isn’t a contempt resolution; it authorizes Rep. Nadler to file lawsuits to enforce specific subpoenas but, unfortunately, shifts to leadership the power to authorize future enforcement lawsuits, further centralizing the House’s authority and undermining the institution.

House rules aren’t clear on whether a vote of the House is required to authorize these lawsuits, but that’s been our practice. #HRes430 instead says that a vote of House leadership to authorize these lawsuits “is the equivalent of a vote of the full House of Representatives.”

Here’s a statement from House judiciary committee chair Jerry Nadler on Hope Hicks agreeing to testify before the committee next week:

Nadler confirms: Hicks to testify in private June 19; transcript to be made available publicly.

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.

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 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.

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."

After the cheers and applause died down, Sanders laughed and ad-libbed: "I must say it does sound a little contemporary doesn’t it?"

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."

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.

Bernie Sanders to defend his brand of socialism in speech

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.

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:

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.

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.