House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named her seven impeachment managers to prosecute the case against Donald Trump during his upcoming Senate trial.

Congress voted 228-193 to send the two articles of impeachment against the president to the Senate with Ms Pelosi's chosen House prosecutors.

The vote was predictably along party lines, with 192 of the "no" votes coming from Republicans, joined by only one Democrat.

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Ms Pelosi's appointment of the case managers followed the release a trove of damning new evidence detailing the Trump administration’s efforts to extort a political favour from Ukraine obtained from Lev Parnas, a business associate of Rudy Giuliani, which has already prompted ex-US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to call for a new investigation as it appeared Mr Giuliani's cronies had spied on her in Kiev.

Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler, who joins Adam Schiff and five other Democrats as part of the prosecution team headed to the Senate, said that if the Senate doesn't permit the introduction of all relevant witnesses and of all documents the House wants to introduce, "then the Senate is engaging in an unconstitutional and disgusting cover-up."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a trial will likely begin on 21 January.

The Senate might consider witnesses after opening statements are made, Mr McConnell has said.

As the House debated before a vote, the president signed a "phase one" trade deal with China as part of an apparent easing of tensions between Washington and Beijing after the two exchanged retaliatory tariffs last year.

His "landmark" deal followed last night's address to fans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he advocated the looting of Syria’s oilfields (a war crime), suggested 36th president Lyndon Johnson is in hell and raved about the problem of inadequate water pressure in American dishwashers, sinks and showers on another eccentric night at the podium.

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House Democrats release damning new Lev Parnas Ukraine evidence
 
The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees have released a trove of damning new documents detailing the Donald Trump administration's efforts to extort a political favour from Ukraine obtained from Lev Parnas, a business associate of Rudy Giuliani.
 
The documents disclosed find Giuliani claiming he was working with Trump's consent on his mission last May to secure president Volodymyr Zelensky's promise to open a corruption investigation into his boss's domestic political rival Joe Biden over the latter's intervention in Kiev while serving as Barack Obama's veep in 2016, the matter at the heart of the impeachment saga.
 
The stash includes a note handwritten on stationery from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Vienna, Austria, that reads: "Get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated."
 
In a joint statement, House Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Intelligence and Oversight Committee chairs Eliot Engel, Jerrold Nadler, Adam Schiff and Carolyn Maloney said the newly released documents "demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president’s scheme” that has been “concealed by the president himself". 

"All of this new evidence confirms what we already know – the president and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the president politically," they wrote, adding that "there cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress".
 
Here's Andrew Feinberg with the sordid details.
 
Marie Yovanovitch calls for investigation after Parnas documents indicate she was under surveillance
 
One of the more disturbing aspects about the Lev Parnas communications is the revelation that the ex-US ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was being spied on by one Robert Hyde, a Trump donor and Republican congressional candidate.
 
As she testified during the public phase of the impeachment hearings in November, Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled to Washington around the time of Giuliani's involvement and believed the president's personal attorney had orchestrated a smear campaign to ensure her removal from office to clear the path his path to Zelensky of a conscientious obstacle.
 
WhatsApp exchanges between Parnas and Hyde appear to substantiate that idea, with the latter updating the former on her movements and communications in unsettling detail.
 
"The notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing," Yovanovitch's lawyer said in a statement, responding to the development. "We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation."
 
Hyde has also reacted in fairly colourful terms:
 
Here's Conrad Duncan's report.
 
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House to vote today on sending articles of impeachment to Senate
 
This comes ahead of a full House vote today on sending the articles of impeachment against Trump (abuse of power and obstruction of Congress) through to the Senate so the president’s trial can finally commence.
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the annoucement yesterday but has yet to appoint any managers to oversee the prosecution's case as doubts remain over how Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will conduct the trial and whether new evidence (like that just supplied by Parnas) or new witnesses (like ex-national security adviser John Bolton) will be admissable.
 
When the trial does reach the Senate, Democrats are now believed to have convinced four Republicans to back their corner, giving them the 51 votes they need to hold a majority on the issue. 
 
The retiring Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is the crucial man, joining Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah in defying McConnell by calling for Bolton and others with inside knowledge of the Ukraine affair to be given the chance to speak out.
 
McConnell though remains a stubborn and tricky foe:
 
Here's Alex Woodward with the latest.
 
Trump raves about unsatisfactory dishwashers at Milwaukee rally
 
As for the president himself, he delivered his latest rally address to fans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last night, advocating the looting of Syria’s oilfields (a war crime), suggesting 36th president Lyndon Johnson is in hell and raving about the problem of inadequate water pressure in American dishwashers, sinks and showers on another eccentric night at the podium.

Trump spent much of his speech at the Panther Arena defending his decision to order the strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport on 3 January, labelling the deceased the "world's No. 1 terrorist." The line came in response to intense criticism from Democrats who said the president should have consulted Congress before approving the drone strike and raised questions about whether Soleimani was really plotting an "imminent attack" on America's embassies, as the likes of secretary of state Mike Pompeo has claimed.

"The Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster, even though this monster was behind hundreds and hundreds of deaths," Trump told the crowd in downtown Milwaukee. He added that Soleimani was "the king of the roadside bomb. Great percentages of people don't have legs right now and arms because of this son of a bitch."

The president also said Democrats "are doing everything possible to disparage what we did with the hit on this monster" and that the other party "should be outraged by Soleimani's evil crimes, not the decision to end his wretched life."

He also took on the leading Democratic 2020 candidates directly, saying of Bernie Sanders: "Bernie and the radical left cannot protect your family, nor can they protect our country."
 
Yet the president also defended Sanders in the ongoing he-said, she-said spat between Sanders and Warren, who has said Sanders told her during a private meeting in 2018 that he didn't believe a woman could win the White House - a charge the Vermont senator has vehemently denied. "I don't believe that Bernie said that. I really don't... It's not the kind of thing he'd say," said Trump, who routinely insults Warren with the slur "Pocahontas" and did so again during Tuesday's rally.

Trump also criticised Biden's tendency to mix up locations, including recently confusing Iran with Iraq. "When you do that you can't really recover," he said.

Winning back Wisconsin is a key part of Democrats' 2020 strategy - and one of the reasons the party chose Milwaukee to host its national convention in July. Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016 and he is expected to make frequent visits in the coming months as he works to maintain his edge. The state's primary is on 7 April.

Vice president Mike Pence warmed up the rally crowd last night by likewise panning the Democratic candidates as too far left for the state. "You know, I heard they've got another debate tonight. If it's anything like the other ones, those people are going to be standing so far on the left I think that stage is going to tip over," Pence quipped.

But the most bizarre line of the evening came when Trump launched into an extended riff about his efforts to roll back energy- and water-saving regulations, panning energy-efficient light bulbs and low water flow dishwashers, showers and toilets, which he promised to replace.
 
"Your dishes are going to be beautiful," he promised.
 
Highlighting the politics of the city, the rally was interrupted several times by protesters, who also demonstrated outside the arena. None of which stopped Trump from his primary obsession: trashing the Democrats over impeachment and accusing the opposition of wasting America's time with "demented hoaxes" and "witch hunts" while "we're creating jobs and killing terrorists."
 
Here's Andy Gregory on one of his strangest rants yet.
 
Bernie Sanders flatly denies Elizabeth Warren accusation at latest 2020 debate
 
While all of that was going on, the remaining Democratic 2020 candidates were on stage in Des Moines, Iowa, for their latest debate, with Sanders flatly denying the aforementioned claim by Warren that he had told her a woman could not beat Trump to the presidency in November.
 
While they fought to claim the progressive vote, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer made their competing cases to moderates ahead of the 3 February caucuses.
 
"Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women. Amy and me," Warren said in perhaps the standout moment of the evening. "Back in the 1960s people asked could a Catholic win. Back in 2008 people asked if an African American can win. In both times the Democratic Party stepped up and said yes, and got behind their candidate."
 
On Iran, Bernie got in a timely dig at Biden for voting for the Iraq War: "What we have to face as a nation is that the two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes, [were] the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. Both of those wars were based on lies."
 
Clark Mindock was watching the drama play out.
 
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Trump hits out at Apple over Penascola shooter and agrees he is 'monstrous, domineering behemoth' on Twitter
 
On Twitter last night, the president bashed out plenty of retweets attacking the candidates taking part in the Democratic debate, as well as praise from Fox host Brian Kilmeade on his Soleimani order and an appeal by his buffoonish former aide Sebastian Gorka for legal funds to support the president's short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea as he awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators. 
 
He also gave a shout-out to Boris Johnson after he said Iran needs to agree a new "Trump deal" to replace the 2015 nuclear accord, endorsed an idiotic Devin Nunes tweet accusing Nancy Pelosi of McCarthyism and derided Chuck Schumer over his call for a fair impeachment trial in the Senate, which doesn't really seem like too much to ask does it?
 
More unexpectedly, Trump attacked Apple over its refusal to comply with attorney general William Barr's request that it unlock the iPhone of the 21-year-old shooter who killed three sailors at a naval base in Penascola, Florida, last month.
 
Even more unexpectedly, he retweeted praise from Fox pundit Greg Gutfield, in which the broadcaster called him a "monstrous, domineering behemoth".
 
For some reason I cannot get the image of Godzilla in a golden toupee out of my mind...
 
Anyway, here's Jon Sharman's report on that last space oddity.
 
Michael Bloomberg's campaign team seek attention by posting haunting picture of candidate's face emblazoned on a meatball
 
As if we hadn't had enough weirdness from the president this morning, his billionaire Democratic challenger Michael Bloomberg upped the ante in a big way during last night's debate.
 
In a clear bid to win attention from a contest he was not taking part in, Bloomberg's campaign team posted this utterly terrifying, Cronenbergian image of his face PhotoShopped onto an Italian meatball.
 
This was just one of many "quirky" tweets put out over the course of the evening, touching on everything from which Pitbull song should become his anthem to pledging a duet with Lady Gaga at his inauguration, leaving at least one person wondering whether Bloomberg's boys had been hacked.
Sarah Palin says Trump is 'directing the wind'
 
Oh you want more?
 
Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (remember her?) has been on Good Morning Britain today and was madder than a bag of spiders.
 
Here's Louis Staples on an interview that left even Piers Morgan looking baffled.
 
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As impeachment trial looms, Trump's barren schedule leaves him a background player
 
Here's Andrew Feinberg on how the investigation into the Ukraine scandal has left the president limiting his public engagements but tweeting more than ever.
 
Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad caught on camera mocking Trump
 
Trump won't like this footage of the Russian and Syrian leaders laughing at him one bit.
 
Putin and Assad were recorded joking during a recent meeting at a Greek Orthodox church in the Middle East that if god struck Trump on the road to Damascus, as he did the Biblical apostle Saul, "it would fix him".
 
You will recall the president storming home from the Nato summit in London back in December when Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson were similarly filmed mocking his overlong press conferences during a champagne reception at Buckingham Palace.
 
It will be interesting to see if he responds so dramatically this time.
 
Jon Sharman and Ollie Carroll have the details.
 
Iran rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘strange’ proposal to strike new 'Trump deal' to replace nuclear pact
 
Richard Hall has the latest from Tehran where the regime has reacted dismissively to the British prime minister's call for a new "Trump deal" to replace the 2015 Obama nuclear pact to rein in its uranium enrichment ambitions.
 
As we saw, the US president was delighted by the suggestion.
 
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Trump administration to release $8.2bn in disaster relief aid to Puerto Rico after 'shameful' delay
 
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is set to lift its hold on $8.2bn (£6.3bn) in congressionally-approved disaster relief aid to Puerto Rico, according to Politico, which is long overdue given that the territory has received just $1.5bn (£1.15bn) of the $20bn (£15.4bn) it was promised after being devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
 
This comes after Democrats branded the delay "shameful" in the aftermath of the island being struck by an ongoing series of earthquakes since December.
 
Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velazquez were among those writing to Trump demanding answers.
 
Here's Alex Woodward's report.
 
Ex-Trump adviser and ‘lifelong paedophile’ pleads guilty to sex crimes
 
George Nader, a former aide to Trump who specialised in foreign policy towards the Middle East, has pled guilty to multiple sex crimes involving minors after being found in possession of child pornography and accused of bringing an underage boy to the US for “commercial sex”.
 
Chris Riotta has this report.
 
Trump adviser Stephen Miller feared Obama's Dreamers would make US less American
 
Trump's top immigration adviser Stephen Miller told an editor of the far-right website Breitbart that the arrival of Dreamers - children brought to the US illegally to obtain relief from deportation - would make the US less American.

Emails sent to advocacy group the Southern Poverty Law Center and reviewed by The Independent show Miller fretting over the possibility that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrrivals (Daca) programme would lead a higher percentage of foreign-born workers.

"[The] Daca amnesty remains in effect, which provides illegal youth (one of the single strongest pull factors for entering and remaining illegally) with both work permits and generous free cash tax credits," Miller wrote to Breitbart editor Katie McHugh in 2015, while he was serving as the communications director for then-senator Jeff Sessions. 
 
Andrew Feinberg has more.
 
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Tom Steyer accused of owning only one tie
 
The billionaire Democratic presidential candidate will have been delighted to learn he was a trending search term on Google last night following his debate performance...
 
...but dismayed to hear the reason: people were wondering why he always wears the same tie.
 
As my colleague Conrad Duncan points out, even a rudimentary Google Images search will show you this isn't true but Steyer certainly seems oddly partial to red tartan.
 
The tie even has its own parody account for crying out loud.
Did Elizabeth Warren really snub Bernie Sanders' handshake?
 
This video of the Massachusetts senator appearing to dodge her old friend's handshake at the end of the debate last night is doing the rounds following their recent falling out...
 
...but was it really a calculated snub?
 
Indy100 attempts to answer that question.
 
Nancy Pelosi names Democratic impeachment managers

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has just announced that the impeachment managers handling the case for the prosecution against the president in the Senate will be:

- Adam Schiff
- Jerrold Nadler
- Zoe Lofgren
- Hakeem Jeffries
- Jason Crow
- Val Demings
- Sylvia Garcia
 
This was the key moment:
 
 
"Time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain," the speaker said, justifying the decision to withhold the articles since the House voted on them on 18 December.

The House will later hold its vote on resolutions confirming the managers, apportioning funding and sending the articles of impeachment through to the Senate, after which Pelosi will hold a signing ceremony at 5pm EST (10pm GMT) before the impeachment managers take part in the engrossment ceremony, marching across the Capitol to deliver those articles to the upper chamber.

The articles will then be read aloud in the Senate tomorrow.
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Trump labels impeachment 'Con Job'
 
Here we go again indeed.
 
Here's White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham's statement, which is every bit as unbalanced as you'd expect:
 
"The only thing Speaker Pelosi has achieved with this sham, illegitimate impeachment process, is to prove she is focused on politics instead of the American people. The Speaker lied when she claimed this was urgent and vital to national security because when the articles passed, she held them for an entire month in an egregious effort to garner political support.
 
"She failed and the naming of these managers does not change a single thing. President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated. In the meantime, after President Trump signs the historic China Trade Deal greatly benefiting the people of this country, he will continue working and winning for all Americans, while the Democrats will continue only working against the president."
Adam Schiff: 'We've always felt a certain urgency about this impeachment as the president was trying to get foreign help in cheating in the next election'
 
A few highlights from the Q&A session just now, with the likes of Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler explaining where they stand on impeachment in light of last night's Parnas bombshell
 
Also here's a handy introduction to the impeachment managers from Pelosi herself:

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