Donald Trump has been accused of “engaging in hate speech against an entire religion” after retweeting a meme of senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in Muslim dress as press secretary Stephanie Grisham explained he posted it to attack the opposition for “almost taking the side of terrorists” in the Iran crisis.
A US cybersecurity firm has meanwhile alleged that Russian military agents successfully hacked Ukrainian gas company Burisma — at the heart of the impeachment inquiry over its ties to Hunter Biden, son of Mr Trump’s leading 2020 opponent Joe Biden — suggesting it attempted to steal emails with a view to again influencing an American presidential election.
On impeachment, Republicans in the Senate appear to be backing down from the idea of dismissing the two articles against the president outright after admitting they do not have the votes to see through such a controversial move.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell instead has announced that the Senate will plan to begin the president's impeachment trial on 21 January, provided that House Democrats send articles of impeachment and assign case managers to the Senate proceedings on Wednesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not get assurance from the Republican leader who has previously gloated about his coordination with the White House and pledged support for dismissing the articles outright.
Mr McConnell also did not say whether the Senate will bring up witnesses or evidence for the trial, saying instead he'll determine whether to do that "at the appropriate time".
Speaker Pelosi said a Senate dismissal of the charges against the president amounts to a "pure political cover-up".
Meanwhile, Democrats are pressuring the White House to release billions of dollars in aid to Puerto Rico, still suffering from 2017 hurricanes in addition to the ongoing earthquakes that have displaced thousands of people, as reports emerge that the president is considering diverting billions from the Pentagon to pay for his US-Mexico border wall.
Democrats also announced their panel an investigation into the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" anti-immigration measure at the border, which "has morphed into a policy whereby refugees and asylum seekers are being kept in Mexico indefinitely and without due process or access to counsel".
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