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Trump’s signature campaign promise keeps hitting a wall

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — Over the last three months, President Trump’s push for a border wall has been a self-inflicted debacle for him and his party.

Think about it: a 35-day government shutdown, an emergency declaration that’s opposed by 60 percent of the country, 12 Republican senators joining Democrats to support a resolution terminating that emergency declaration, and now Trump threatening the first veto of his presidency.

What’s more, the debate over the emergency declaration forced a vulnerable GOP senator up for re-election in 2020 like Thom Tillis, R-N.C., to oppose the emergency declaration – and then vote for it.

NBC’s Peter Alexander reports that President Trump has now received the bill reversing the emergency declaration, and he has 10 days to veto it, which he’s promised to do.

Given that Congress is unlikely to override Trump’s veto, the fate of the emergency declaration to build a border wall is now in the courts’ hands.

Remember when Trump walked away from the deal for Congress to give him $20 billion-plus for the wall — in exchange for protection for DACA recipients?

Tragedy in New Zealand

The biggest news in the world today are the mass shootings in New Zealand, where at least 49 worshippers at two mosques were killed, with dozens of others injured.

“This is one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, per NBC News. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world,” she added.

More: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was advised that one of those in custody is an Australian national, and he condemned the attack “by an extremist right-wing violent terrorist.”

Trump tweeted this morning, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Where Beto stands (and doesn’t stand) on the issues

On his first day as a presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke took clear stances on some issues and was vague on others, NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

On health care: Said his goal was “guaranteeing high-quality health care for every American.” Specifically mentioned the DeLauro-Schakowsky bill that would make Medicare accessible to all, but would also allow Americans to keep their private insurance.

On the Green New Deal: Said he supported the spirit of getting the United States to achieve net-zero emissions, and that he hasn’t seen “anything better” than the Green New Deal in trying to do this.

Reparations for slavery: Said the United States needs to reckon with systematic racism and have a possible conversation about reparations. But he didn’t endorse the effort.

On restructuring the Supreme Court: Said he was open to the idea, per Seitz-Wald. “What if there were five justices selected by Democrats, five Justices selected by Republicans, and those 10 then picked five more justices independent of those who chose the first 10? I think that’s an idea that we should explore.”

2020 Vision: Harris calls for moratorium on death penalty

In an interview yesterday with NPR, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris yesterday called for a federal moratorium on the death penalty.

NPR: No one would be executed if you were president of the United States, for any crime.

HARRIS: Correct, correct.

On the campaign trail

Today: Beto O’Rourke remains in Iowa, while John Delaney also is in the Hawkeye State… Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are all in New Hampshire… Bernie Sanders continues campaigning in South Carolina… And on the GOP side, Bill Weld stumps in the Granite State.

Saturday: Booker, Delaney, Klobuchar and O’Rourke are all in Iowa.. Jay Inslee and Seth Moulton hit New Hampshire… And Sanders campaigns in Nevada.

Sunday: Booker, Delaney and Klobuchar stump in the Hawkeye State… And Elizabeth Warren goes to Memphis, Tenn.

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Trump denounces Democratic investigations and Mueller probe in the Rose Garden

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By Dartunorro Clark, Hallie Jackson and Alex Moe

President Donald Trump delivered an extensive denunciation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation during a highly unusual appearance in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, announcing that he would not work with congressional Democrats as long as they persist in investigating him.

“This whole thing was a take-down attempt of the president of the United States,” Trump said, slamming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment earlier that he was “engaged in a cover-up.”

“I don’t do cover-ups,” the president said.

Just before he appeared in the Rose Garden, Trump had stormed out of an infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic sources with knowledge of the meeting said.

“I knew the president was not serious about infrastructure and would find a way out,” Pelosi quipped as the president stormed out, according to a Democratic aide.

Underscoring the bitterness between the White House and top Democrats, two sources in the room confirm to NBC News that after Trump left the meeting, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked Pelosi a question. It was, according to a White House source in the room, “Respectfully, Madam Speaker, do you have a direct response to the president?”

Pelosi responded: “I don’t talk to staff. I talk directly to the President.”

Conway replied, sarcastically: “That’s very pro-woman of you.”

A Democratic aide disputed aspects of that account, insisting the Speaker never said she doesn’t talk to staff.

Two Democratic sources with knowledge of the meeting told NBC News that Trump arrived late to the meeting and expressed dismay at Pelosi’s “cover-up” comments, calling the remarks inconsiderate. Trump then said, according to the sources, Democrats would need to complete their various investigations before a deal on infrastructure or any other topic would be considered.

Trump said he had intended to sit down with Democratic leaders to discuss the $2 trillion infrastructure plan they had agreed to pursue last month, but that he cut the meeting short.

“I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure, I want to do more than you want to do it,'” Trump said. “‘But, you know what? You can’t do it under these conditions, get these phony investigations over with.'”

The president, in calls with allies and friends outside the White House, has increasingly been “harping on” how he believes Democrats’ unity appears to be unraveling. Trump sees a shift from the first two years of his administration, when he privately and publicly grumbled about his party’s lack of unity.

There’s a sense that impeachment could embolden the president politically, with some allies pointing to former president Bill Clinton’s rise in approval ratings after congressional Republicans moved to impeach him in the late ’90s. And others believe impeachment could allow Democrats to the be the president’s political foil on the campaign trial.

Back on Capitol Hill, Pelosi, flanked by Schumer and other top Democrats in Congress, said Democrats had gone to the White House in the “spirit of bipartisanship to find common ground with the president,” but that his behavior was not “really respectful.”

“For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part, he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge,” she said during an impromptu news conference.

“I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” she added.

“To watch what happened at the White House would make your jaw drop,” Schumer told reporters.

“It’s clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part,” he said, pointing out that immediately after Trump left the meeting with Democrats, he went out to the Rose Garden that had signs prepared.

Trump spoke at a lectern with a sign in front of it that read “no collusion,” “no obstruction” and cited a $35 million cost of Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and Trump. Two administration sources said the “no collusion” poster pasted on to the president’s podium had been created a while ago.

While Mueller’s investigation didn’t establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government, it did establish that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, that it did so to help Trump, and that the Trump campaign expected it would benefit from the interference. Mueller’s report also detailed numerous attempts by Trump to disrupt the inquiry, though Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.

“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mueller wrote. Attorney General William Barr cleared Trump of obstruction of justice.

The probe cost roughly $25 million, according to the Department of Justice. However, as part of his plea deal with Mueller’s team, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort forfeited a host of assets, including New York real estate properties worth an estimated $21.7 million, among other valuables. Manafort was convicted and pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple charges of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy and sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison.

During his news conference, Trump warned that Democrats could be setting a dangerous precedent and referenced what he called the “I-word” — impeachment, discussions of which have been surging among House Democrats in recent days in light of the Trump administration’s refusal to comply with oversight requests, including subpoenas for testimony and documents related to Mueller’s report.

“Whether or not they carry the big I-word out, I can’t imagine that, but they will do whatever they have to do. There is a danger here,” Trump said. “If someday a Democrat becomes president, and you have a Republican House, they can impeach him for any reason — or her, any reason. We can’t allow that to happen.”

Just over 20 years ago — in 1998 — a Republican House did impeach a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

Rebecca Shabad, Mark Murray and Eamon Javers, CNBC contributed.



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Tories brace for HUMILIATION in EU elections today as May CLINGS ON despite Brexit revolt

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THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY is in turmoil today as the country heads to the polls for the European Parliament elections, after Theresa May suffered yet another high-profile resignation last night.

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Wells Fargo, TD Bank have already given Trump-related financial documents to Congress

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — A key congressional committee has already gained access to President Donald Trump’s dealings with two major financial institutions, two sources familiar with the House probe tell NBC News, as a court ruling Wednesday promised to open the door for even more records to be handed over.

Wells Fargo and TD Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization, according to the sources. The disclosures by these two banks haven’t been previously reported. Both TD Bank and Wells Fargo declined to comment for this story.

Wells Fargo provided the committee with a few thousand documents and TD Bank handed the committee a handful of documents, according to a source who has seen them. The committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is especially interested in the president’s business relationship with Russia and other foreign entities.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that two other banks — Deutsche Bank and Capitol One — can hand over financial documents related to their dealings Trump and his businesses to Congress. The Trump family had sued to prevent those two banks from complying with the congressional subpoena and the ruling paves the way for the committee to now have access to years of financial records from at least four financial institutions.

The documents that have been provided so far are a fraction of those requested by Waters, whose committee has also sent subpoenas to Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank and JP Morgan Chase. The Royal Bank of Canada is in the process of complying with the subpoena, according to a source. The other banks have missed the subpoena deadline of May 6.

The development comes as House Democrats are internally debating to move forward with launching an impeachment inquiry of the president or not.

Deutsche Bank has been the Trump Organization’s biggest lender, financing more than $2 billion in loans to the president during his business career, and he still owes the bank at least $130 million, according to Trump’s latest financial disclosures.

The subpoenas, details of which have not been released to the public, are predicated on the notion that Congress has access to the information under the Bank Secrecy Act, which allows Congress access to financial information to search for money laundering, according to a person who has seen the subpoenas.

“The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Waters said in April when she issued the subpoenas. “The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the President and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us.”

Spokespeople for both chairman Waters and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., did not respond to requests for comment.

The Waters probe is just one of numerous confrontations between House Democrats and the president over his financial information.

The receipt of documents suggests progress for House Democrats who have often been frustrated in their efforts to, in some cases, conduct oversight but they have had progress in recent days. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta this week said that Congress has the legal authority to request information from the president’s personal accounting firm Mazars USA.

An NBC News analysis finds that at least 14 different Democratic-led House committees are investigating various aspects of Trump and his presidency, with 50 different inquiries that are seeking documents from the executive branch or outside entities.

Much of the focus for House Democrats has been on efforts across multiple committees to gain access to an unredacted version of the Mueller report, which the Justice Department recently moved to block after Trump asserted executive privilege.

While lawmakers have been stymied in obtaining additional documentation that could be central to an obstruction of justice case against the president or members of his administration, accessing bank records could provide new momentum for an investigation centered around questions of whether foreign individuals or governments hold financial leverage over the president, his family or his businesses.

Mike Memoli contributed.



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