Donald Trump has angrily denied reports he made a promise to a mystery foreign leader during a phone call from the Oval Office that so troubled one US intelligence official they felt compelled to file a whistleblower complaint about it, predictably dismissing the story and asking: “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate?”
The precise nature of the pledge is currently unknown, according to The Washington Post, but, despite the matter being deemed of “urgent concern”, the president’s acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has so far refused to pass it on to House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, even after a subpoena was issued.
With a new Fox News poll finding him lagging behind the 2020 Democratic front-runners, Mr Trump returns from California where he visited his US-Mexico border wall on Wednesday, hailing the construction project with characteristic bluster as a “world-class security system”.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump asked a federal court to block an effort by New York prosecutors to obtain his tax returns as part of a criminal investigation, opening another front in the president’s efforts to keep his financial information private.
The president’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr, who recently subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm for eight years of his state and federal returns as part of an investigation into payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Mr Trump.
They called the subpoena a “bad faith effort to harass” Mr Trump and said Mr Vance, a Democrat, had overstepped his constitutional authority.
“Virtually ‘all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office,” Mr Trump’s lawyers wrote.
“Yet a county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to do just that,” they added.
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The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, asks US District Judge Victor Marrero to declare the subpoena unenforceable until Mr Trump leaves office.
The president’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said the lawsuit is intended “to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case.”
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A spokesman for Mr Vance said his office had received the lawsuit “and will respond as appropriate in court.” Mr Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, declined to comment.
Additional reporting by AP. Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load