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Politics Impeachment Fight at Home Hangs Over Trump's NATO Trip

18:50  01 december  2019
18:50  01 december  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

Trump off to London for NATO summit, under pressure to steer clear of British election

  Trump off to London for NATO summit, under pressure to steer clear of British election Trump off to London for NATO summit, under pressure to steer clear of British electionAs a presidential candidate in 2016 and then as president since early 2017, Trump has shown no restraint in showing support for Britain's exit from the European Union and critiquing the politicians involved in the country's long-running Brexit debate.

Facing an impeachment inquiry at home , President Trump is heading to London for a different political challenge: a meeting of the But his White House struck a more conciliatory tone ahead of the Dec. 3-4 meeting to mark NATO ’ s 70th anniversary, taking credit for increased military spending by member

Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the efforts a "witch hunt". There is strong support from House Democrats for impeachment , but the proceedings would be unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. Others contend that the Ukrainian president has US politicians over the barrel.

a man standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera© loren elliott/Reuters

Facing an impeachment inquiry at home, President Trump is heading to London for a different political challenge: a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mr. Trump, who as a candidate labeled the alliance obsolete, has upended past gatherings with his complaints that members must spend more on defense. But his White House struck a more conciliatory tone ahead of the Dec. 3-4 meeting to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary, taking credit for increased military spending by member countries and declaring that the “trans-Atlantic relationship is in a very, very healthy place.”

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This gathering comes at a particularly difficult moment for Mr. Trump, facing the next phase of the impeachment investigation into his dealings with Ukraine. On Wednesday, while the president is meeting with foreign leaders, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing with legal experts on what constitutes an impeachable offense.

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While he won’t be able to avoid the issue abroad, particularly with accompanying reporters likely to ask impeachment-related questions if they can, his advisers see the meeting as an opportunity to show him as a leader delivering on the foreign-policy pledges he made during his campaign and in office.

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US President Donald Trump has lashed out at congressional Democrats after they vowed to summons the White House to produce documents this week. Committees are demanding documents relating to the administration' s dealings with Ukraine, which is now at the heart of an impeachment inquiry.

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Mr. Trump emphasized that goal on Twitter Saturday night, saying: “I will be representing our Country in London at NATO, while the Democrats are holding the most ridiculous Impeachment hearings in history.”

Former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said that the trip would show the president at work and that “an underreported dynamic of President Trump’s 2016 victory was his promise to drive the America First agenda on the world stage, which includes making our NATO allies pay their fair share. It’s important for President Trump to continually take the world stage as a reminder of his strong leadership.”

On Mr. Trump’s agenda for the trip: bilateral meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as meetings with the leaders of Denmark and Italy. A meeting with host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—a close ally who is staring down parliamentary elections on Dec. 12—wasn’t on the agenda as of Friday, but the White House said Saturday that the two leaders spoke that day and “look forward to meeting with one another” at NATO.

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After President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, Pocan to post a watch face with Trump ’ s picture on his Twitter feed with the message: “ Trump firing Comey reminds me of the doomsday clock, but maybe we should start an impeachment one.”

“Even though Trump is open in terms of how much he likes him and how they have a common bond. " NATO is facing internal challenges, challenges that are coming from the president of the United States," Price explained. NHS staff to lead protest against Trump during his trip to the UK.

Mr. Johnson gave a radio interview Friday saying it would be best if Mr. Trump, who has waded into British domestic politics in the past, stayed out of the U.K. race. Mr. Johnson, the Conservative Party leader, sought the election to help break the deadlock over plans for the U.K. to leave the European Union.

A senior administration official told reporters Friday that Mr. Trump liked Mr. Johnson personally but added that the president was “absolutely cognizant” that he shouldn’t influence other countries’ elections. Mr. Johnson is also dealing with the aftermath of a stabbing attack in London Friday that left two people dead. Authorities have identified the suspect as a convicted terrorist released from prison last year. Mr. Trump has been briefed on the incident.

The White House said that Mr. Trump offered condolences for the attack during the Saturday call with Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Trump and wife Melania Trump will also attend a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

The administration official touted Mr. Trump’s efforts to push other countries to increase military spending. Mr. Trump has long groused that other members have failed to meet the target of defense budgets equal to at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product.

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The White House said Friday that nine members now meet the 2 percent mark—up from four in 2016—and it expects the number to rise to 18 countries by 2024. Mr. Trump, who has met twice with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg at the White House this year, has claimed credit for the uptick.

Some experts saw the shift in tone from the White House as good news for the alliance.

“My best guess is that the worst is behind us and Trump seems to have eased off a bit on his hostility,” said Charles Kupchan, a professor at Georgetown University who was a senior National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Obama administrations.

Other topics the U.S. expects to focus on at the summit  include the rising global influence of China and 5G network security. The official also stressed that Mr. Trump has a strong relationship with Mr. Macron, who injected anxiety into the gathering with recent comments that NATO was suffering from “brain death” due to a poor relationship with the U.S. and complained about Mr. Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria.

The official characterized the commentary as part of the politics that goes on within the organization and said the two leaders “have a great deal of respect for each other,” though suggested they have “different priorities for the alliance.”

Shadowing Mr. Trump will be the next phase of the impeachment investigation into his dealings with Ukraine. In the House, the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry have begun compiling a report that could be sent as early as this week to the House Judiciary Committee, which has its hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Mr. Trump’s domestic controversies have frequently intruded on his foreign travels, as they did earlier this year when congressional testimony from his former attorney Michael Cohen partly overshadowed the president’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Mr. Trump has also abandoned the custom that the president leaves domestic concerns at home, criticizing former Vice President Joe Biden during a trip to Japan in May.

Write to Catherine Lucey at catherine.lucey@wsj.com

Trump: I was asking Zelensky to help America, not me .
It’s all about “US,” the president tweeted.As the impeachment inquiries against President Donald Trump rocket forward, Trump tried Wednesday night to reframe the context of the phone call that sparked House Democrats' impeachment investigation. Rather than asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on his domestic political rivals, Trump claimed that he had asked Zelensky to somehow help the nation as a whole.

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