Tuesday 20 August 2019

Trump furious as Democrats launch bid for full disclosure

Executive hug: Donald Trump meets former jailbird Alice Johnson, who benefited from changes aimed at helping former prisoners. Photo: Reuters
Executive hug: Donald Trump meets former jailbird Alice Johnson, who benefited from changes aimed at helping former prisoners. Photo: Reuters

Rachael Alexander

US President Donald Trump has vented his anger over House of Representatives judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler's subpoena for the release of the full Mueller report just hours before a deadline set by Congress for its disclosure.

Mr Trump wrote that "NOTHING WILL EVER SATISFY" those who want the report to be made available in full to the public, suggesting it should not be released.

House Democrats are preparing to introduce further legal processes to require the findings and their underlying evidence to be made public, putting them and Mr Trump and his attorney general William Barr on a collision course.

While Mr Barr has made public a summary of the report, Robert Mueller's full findings remain unknown and Democrats have demanded to know if the report found evidence of wrongdoing beyond the claims of collusion with the Russian state.

In his tweet, Mr Trump said: "In 1998, Rep Jerry Nadler strongly opposed the release of the Starr Report on Bill Clinton." It was apparently posted in response to a discussion on TV show 'Fox and Friends', which the president is known to watch every morning.

Meanwhile Mr Trump's threat to shut down the southern border raised fears of dire economic consequences in the United States.

Politicians, business leaders and economists warned such a move would block badly needed incoming shipments of fruits and vegetables, TVs, medical devices and other products and cut off people who commute to their jobs or school or come across the border to go shopping.

"Let's hope the threat is nothing but a bad April Fools' joke," said economist Dan Griswold at the Mercatus Centre at George Mason University in Virginia. He said Trump's threat would be the "height of folly", noting that an average of 15,000 trucks and $1.6bn (€1.43bn) in goods cross the border every day.

"If trade were interrupted, US producers would suffer crippling disruptions of their supply chains, American families would see prices spike for food and cars, and US exporters would be cut off from their third-largest market," he said.

Mr Trump brought up the possibility over the weekend because of a surge of Central Americans migrants who are seeking asylum. Administration officials have said the influx has the immigration system at breaking point.

Elected leaders from border communities stretching from San Diego in California to cities across Texas warned havoc would ensue on both sides of the international boundary if the ports were closed. They were joined by the US Chamber of Commerce, which said such a step would inflict "severe economic harm".

In California's Imperial Valley, across from Mexicali, Mexico, farmers rely on Mexican workers to harvest fields of lettuce, carrots, onions and other winter vegetables. Shopping mall parking lots in the region are filled with cars with Mexican plates.

More than 60pc of all Mexican winter produce consumed in the US crosses at Nogales, Arizona. The season is especially heavy right now, with the import of Mexican-grown watermelons, grapes and squash, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

He said 11,000 to 12,000 commercial trucks cross the border at Nogales daily, laden with about 50 million pounds (22.6m kilos) of produce such as aubergines, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers and berries. He said a closing of the border would lead to immediate layoffs and result in shortages and price increases at grocery stores and restaurants.

"If this happens - and I certainly hope it doesn't - I'd hate to go into a grocery store four or five days later and see what it looks like," Mr Jungmeyer said.

Laredo mayor Pete Saenz, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, said a closure would be catastrophic.

"Closing the border would cause an immediate depression in border state communities and, depending on the duration, a recession in the rest of the country," he said.

"Our business would end," said Marta Salas, an employee at an El Paso shop near the border that sells plastic flowers that are used on the Mexican side by families holding quinceañeras, the traditional coming-of-age celebrations.

Ms Salas said her whole family, including relatives who attend the University of Texas at El Paso, would be affected if the border were closed.

"There are Americans who live there. I have nephews who come to UTEP, to grade school, to high school every day," Ms Salas said.

Irish Independent

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