Related video: Trump addressing his supporters in Kentucky earlier this week

Before public hearings begin in the impeachment investigation into Donald Trump, recently released transcripts of testimonies from two key witnesses offer a more complete picture of the president's dealings with Ukraine and the role of his attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Lt Col Alexander Vindman testified that "no doubt" the president was asking for investigations into his political rivals, and Fiona Hill warned that Mr Giuliani was peddling conspiracy theories to Mr Trump that could make US elections in 2020 vulnerable to Russian influence.

Mr Trump told reporters at the White House he is considering Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend Moscow’s Victory Day parade and is planning to release a new transcript of an earlier call with Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in an attempt to clear his name with the House impeachment inquiry ongoing.

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As the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney failed to show up for his deposition to the inquiry despite being issued with a subpoena late on Thursday, Democratic congressman Danny Heck has dismissed the significance of the White House’s refusal to co-operate, saying the panel has already amassed “a mountain of evidence” against the president.

Steve Bannon, Mr Trump's former White House chief strategist and a key figure in his campaign, testified in the trial of Roger Stone that Mr Stone was the campaign's "access point" for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

But Mr Bannon did not say whether the president had actually ever relied on Mr Stone to deliver information from the organisation. He believes Mr Stone knew about Hillary Clinton's campaign emails that WikiLeaks planned to release.

Mr Stone is on trial for witness tampering and lying to Congress about his role in the WikiLeaks scandal, which prosecutors argue Mr Stone had arranged to deliver information on Mr Trump's political rivals in order to protect the president.

Meanwhile, the latest excerpts from A Warning, the new book by an anonymous administration insider, has revealed Mr Trump’s senior staff once considered resigning en masse in response to the president’s behaviour, which the mystery author characterises as volatile and incompetent.

The president ended his week announcing plans to take his tax case to the Supreme Court, which will decide whether take up Mr Trump's attempt to block a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney seeking his tax records.

Follow along as it happened in our liveblog.

Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.
Mick Mulvaney expected to snub subpoena as House impeachment investigator says 'mountain of evidence' amassed
 
Democratic congressman Danny Heck has dismissed the significance of the White House’s refusal to co-operate with the House impeachment inquiry, saying the panel has already amassed “a mountain of evidence” against Donald Trump.
 
"I think there's more evidence to the effect that the president shook down Ukraine, tried to cover it up, and threatened to and then withheld security assistance to Ukraine than there is evidence that the sun will come up in the East tomorrow," Heck said.

Ex-national security adviser John Bolton on Thursday became the tenth scheduled witness not to turn up to give a deposition this week, with the House team since issuing a subpoena to the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney that he is not expected to respond to. Mark Sandy, the associate director for national security programmes at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is also scheduled to appear on Friday, but probably will not do so either.
 
An official working on the inquiry said the House intelligence panel subpoenaed Mulvaney because other testimony indicated he "could shed additional light on the president's abuse of the power of his office for his personal gain," according to the AP.
 
Mick Mulvaney (Evan Vucci/AP)
 
Mulvaney said in a news conference last month that the Trump administration's decision to hold up military aid was linked to Trump's demand for the investigations. He later walked back his remarks, but Democrats said that was tantamount to a confession and have cited it as evidence in their inquiry.

Democrats say they will use the high-profile no-shows - like that of energy secretary Rick Perry - as evidence of the president's obstruction of Congress.
 
A slew of current and former officials from the State Department and White House have appeared over the last several weeks and largely corroborated the same narrative - that Trump had delegated his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to guide US-Ukraine policy and that the two men were focused on pressuring Ukraine as the administration withheld military aid from the country.
New book reveals Trump's senior staff plotted 'midnight self-massacre'
 
The latest excerpts from A Warning, the new book by an anonymous administration insider, has revealed that Trump’s senior staff once considered resigning en masse - phrased as a "midnight self-massacre" - in response to the president’s behaviour, which the author characterises as volatile and incompetent, according to The Washington Post.
 
The author, who wrote an explosive op-ed for The New York Times last year, now expresses pessimism about being able to influence the president: 
 
Unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style. He is who he is.
 
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement late on Thursday, saying: "The coward who wrote this book didn't put their name on it because it is nothing but lies."
 
Here's Jon Sharman's report.
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Trump 'regularly stumbles, slurs and gets confused'
 
Another revelation from A Warning is that there are serious concerns about the president's health. The mystery writer discloses that Trump "regularly stumbles, slurs and gets confused", something we've often seen at the podium or in Q&As when he frequently struggles to read an autocue or pronounce words. Who could forget "the oranges of the inquiry"?
 
“I am not qualified to diagnose the president’s mental acuity," writes the book's author. "All I can tell you is that normal people who spend any time with Donald Trump are uncomfortable by what they witness."
 
Here's more from Peter Stubley.
 
Rudy Giuliani led 'campaign of slander' to oust ambassador, George Kent told inquiry
 
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who is spearheading the impeachment inquiry, has been releasing transcripts of the marathon behind-closed-door interviews his team have been conducting so far all week and last night saw the publication of their conversation with State Department official George Kent.
 
Deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs - as well as a natty dresser - Kent told congressmen and women on Capitol Hill that Rudy Guiliani had led "a campaign of lies and misinformation" to oust US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch prior to her being recalled from Kiev in May. 
 
"I believe that Mr Giuliani, as a US citizen, has First Amendment rights to say whatever he wants, but he's a private citizen," Kent said. "His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period."
 
President Trump "wanted nothing less than President [Volodymyr] Zelensky to go to the microphone and say: investigations, Biden, and Clinton," the 27-year foreign service veteran also asserts in the transcript, citing Yovanovitch's acting successor, Bill Taylor.
 
Here's Andrew Buncombe's report.
 
Trump lashes out at New York attorney general for 'deliberately mischaracterising' lawsuit against him
 
The president last night issued an angry, all-caps statement on Twitter attacking New York's attorney general Letitia James, accusing her of “deliberately mischaracterising” a settlement in a lawsuit involving his charity for “political purposes”.
 
"I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State. No wonder why we are all leaving!" Trump frothed. "Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses. The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes."
 
What prompted the beef was the news that the president has been ordered to pay $2m (£1.6m) to several nonprofit organisations after using the foundation that bears his name as his personal "chequebook".

A judge sided with a New York-led lawsuit that alleged Trump and his three eldest children - Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric Trump - had made "persistent" violations of federal and state campaign finance laws and abused the tax exempt status of the Donald J Trump Foundation by using it as "little more than a chequebook" to serve the president and his business and political interests, according to the suit.
 
Here's Alex Woodward with some background.
 
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President 'put on Hispanic accent' to mock migrants arriving at US-Mexico border
 
A further revelation from A Warning alleges that Trump put on a Hispanic accent in the Oval Office to deride asylum seekers arriving at the US southern border from Central America. 
 
“We get these women coming in with like seven children,” the president said, according to the forthcoming book. “They are saying, ‘Oh, please help! My husband left me!’ They are useless. They don’t do anything for our country. At least if they came in with a husband we could put him in the fields to pick corn or something.”
 
Wow. That's about as racist as it gets.
 
Here's Zamira Rahim's report.
 
Whistleblower's lawyer sends cease and desist letter to White House over persistent attacks
 
Andrew Bakaj, one of the attorneys representing the CIA whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, has sent a cease and desist letter to his White House counterpart Pat Cipollone demanding an end to Trump's persistent attacks on his client.
 
"I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates', behavior," Bakaj wrote to Cipollone, adding that the president is "engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger."
 
Trump has repeatedly demanded the individual who complained about his 25 July call with President Zelensky come forward and denounced them on Twitter, encouraging the idea among his support base that the complaint is part of deep state conspiracy or "witch hunt" against him.
 
His son Don Jr and former aide Sebastian Gorka were meanwhile among those to have answered Kentucky senator Rand Paul's call to name the suspected informant on Twitter earlier this week, while Paul himself blocked a Senate resolution reaffirming Congress's commitment to safeguarding whisteblowers on Wednesday.
Sean Hannity rants on Twitter after his name twice crops up in impeachment inquiry transcripts

Fox News host Sean Hannity has demanded that government employees “stop lying" about him after it was revealed he had been mentioned by two separate officials in their depositions to the impeachment inquiry.

Hannity's name has cropped up twice in the investigation so far in relation to his considerable influence over Trump, as recorded in the transcripts of the testimonies by Marie Yovanovitch and George Kent, prompting the right-wing anchor (don't say that phrase too fast) to demand on Twitter: "I STRONGLY ADVISE ALL OF YOU TO STOP LYING ABOUT ME."
 
He certainly sounds anxious.
 
Here's Vincent Wood with more.
 
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Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle given torrid time on morning chat show The View
 
The aforementioned Don Jr and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle - formerly of Fox - appeared on ABC chat show The View on Thursday and were given a torrid time by the panel, with co-host Megan McCain (whose late father Trump Sr regulalrly insulted, even after death) telling her guest: "You and your family have hurt a lot of people."
 
Asked by another host, Joy Behar, about some of the president's most controversial moments - calling Mexican's "rapists", the Access Hollywood tape - Don Jr countered: We've all done things that we regret, I mean, if we're talking about bringing the discourse down, Joy, you've worn blackface.”
 
As Behar scrambled to deny that accusation, he turned to Whoopi Goldberg and continued: "You’ve said that Roman Polanski, it wasn't ‘rape’ rape when he raped a child. So let's talk about serious things."
 
Goldberg, clearly irritated, was forced to throw to a commercial break.
 
Vincent Wood has the whole story.
 
Don Jr tells wrestler Chris Jericho he receives most death threats in America behind his father
 
Don Jr, shilling his new book Triggered ahead of the conservative Christmas rush, has also been on wrestler Chris Jericho's podcast Talk is Jericho and has had plenty to say for himself.
 
My redoubtable colleague Greg Evans has been listening in, for his sins, and tells me Don Jr...
 
- Reflects he was at the "tip of the spear of the greatest political upset in history"
- Claims he is the number two target for political opponents after his father and gets the second highest number of death threats
- Claims that the administration asking the Russians to look into Hillary Clinton's emails was a joke
- Says he hates the #MeToo movement and "snowflake" culture and that supporters regularly say he is right about "these things"
- Claims that Trump supporters were beaten up after his father's recent rally in Minneapolis
- Claims that his followers can't like his social media posts and are effectively being "shadowbanned"
- Says Elizabeth Warren was "trolled" into taking a DNA test to prove her claim to Native American heritage
- Describes 47,000 people showing up to a MAGA rally as being like "Wrestlemania on crack"
- Says that John F Kennedy would today be written off as "alt-right scum"
Michael Bloomberg set to join 2020 Democratic field
 
The billionaire former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is plotting to join the Democratic race to challenge Trump in 2020 and is expected to file his candidacy in Alabama on Friday ahead of the state's early deadline for applications to join the primary.
 
Here's Andrew Buncombe's report.
 
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Jeff Sessions launches run for Alabama Senate
 
Trump's former attorney general Jeff Sessions has announced that he will run for his old Senate seat in Alabama and made clear his first priority is putting to rest tensions with the president in a rather odd campaign video.
 
Here's our report.
Roger Stone witness denies being 'back-channel' to WikiLeaks
 
The trial of Republican "dirty trickster" Roger Stone, accused of lying to Congress, wtiness tampering and obstructing justice, is ongoing in DC and yesterday saw radio host Randy Credico deny being Stone's connection to WikiLeaks, from whom the latter is accused of seeking to obtain hacked emails he believed to be damaging to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillarly Clinton. 
 
On Thursday, prosecutors revealed a trove of Stone’s expletive-filled messages threatening Credico to stay silent during an investigation into Russian interference in 2016 campaigning.
 
Alex Woodward has the latest.
 
Baby Trump to follow president to Alabama
 
Trump is due to attend a college football game between the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this weekend, risking further boos by venturing out in public after incidents at the World Series in DC and a UFC bout in Madison Square Garden.
 
He'll be joined by a familiar antagonist.
 
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Diamond and Silk leave Fox and Friends audience baffled by Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren analogy
 
Trump's number one fans Diamond and Silk were on Fox and Friends yesterday and made the extraordinary cliam that salt and sugar are the same.
 
Louis Staples assesses this curious statement for Indy100.
Senator John Kennedy refuses to apologise for Pelosi insult
 
Louisiana senator John Kennedy attacked House speaker Nancy Pelosi when he made a guest appearance at Trump's rally on Monroe on Wednesday, attacking the veteran Democrat as "dumb" over the impeachment inquiry.
 
The remark sparked outcry but he has since refused to back down when called upon to explain himself.
 
He also said this though, which suggests he's in the pocket of Big Chicken.
Trump wanted 'get rid of' federal judges, book claims
 
In a further extract from A Warning, which we've been documenting this morning after The Washington Post got its hands on an early copy, Trump is recorded asking his aides: “Can we just get rid of the judges?”
 
Rarely, if ever, is the answer to that question a cheery "yes".
 
Peter Stubley has the story.
 
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President heading to Atlanta to launch 'Black Voices for Trump' outreach initiative
 
During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump stood in front of largely white crowds and asked black voters to consider, "What the hell do you have to lose?" Four years later, the president has a new message for black voters: "Look what I've delivered."
 
Trump and his campaign will be launching a new "Black Voices for Trump" outreach initiative in Atlanta, Georgia, today dedicated to "recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump," according to the campaign. Much of that effort will focus on highlighting ways that African Americans have benefited from the Trump economy, say his advisers.
 
"Imagine the kind of results with four more years of winning," said senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson.
 
That prediction is met with scepticism from critics, however, given Trump's consistently dismal approval rating with black voters, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the job he's doing.
 
Trump has spent much of the last four years engaged in racially charged attacks, going after minority members of Congress, claiming "no human being" would want to live in rat "infested," majority-minority Baltimore and claiming that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the deadly Charlottesville protest against white supremacists.
 
"I think black Americans are not the audience for these outreach efforts," said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. He said the appeal appears to be more about motivating Trump's existing voter base. While Trump might be able to maintain the low level of black support he received in 2016, or perhaps expand it by one or two points, he sees little evidence the president can change many minds. "I think this is not going to move the needle at all," Johnson said.
 
In 2016, six per cent of black voters supported Trump, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of people who participated in its polls and were confirmed to have voted. There is no indication his support is growing. Polling shows that African Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president's performance, with his approval hovering around one in 10 over the course of his presidency, according to Gallup.
 
Indeed, in 2018, 92 per cent of black women and 87 per cent of black men supported Democrats in midterm congressional races, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters nationwide.
 
Yet Trump's campaign dismissed the numbers, insisting the campaign has seen favorable movement and arguing the president can increase his margins with black voters by bringing new people into the fold. "The polls have never been favorable for Trump, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day," Pierson said.
 
The campaign has launched similar coalitions for women and Latinos.
 
Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor and a longtime supporter of the president who will be part of the new coalition and attend Friday's event, said that in 2015 and 2016, supporters trying to sell Trump to black voters could only point forward to share things they anticipated from Trump. Democrats, meanwhile, were warning that a Trump victory would be devastating for African Americans. Scott said someone once approached him at a gas station and said, not in jest, that if Trump won, "we'd all be going back to Africa."
 
"Now that it's 2020, we're able to point backwards and to some very definitive accomplishments that the president has done," Scott said. "He delivered on promises he didn't even make."
 
The campaign points to a list of achievements, including passage of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, which Trump signed into law last year, along with his ongoing support for opportunity zones in urban areas and new investments in historically black colleges. Advisers also point to a series of economic gains, including the fact that black unemployment hit a record low last year, with fewer blacks living in poverty. But Trump and his campaign also have a tendency to exaggerate the gains, giving Trump credit for trends that were years in the making, seizing on momentary upticks, cherry-picking favorable statistics and ignoring more troubling ones, such as black home ownership and net worth.
 
Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Karen Bass, a California Democrat, said on Thursday that contrary to Trump's claims, in the three years of his presidency, African Americans have lost a lot. "He has never had support from African Americans, but what we know about the president is that he will lie and say that he has," said Bass, who noted that Trump rarely appears before black audiences. "He has to identify a handful of African Americans and take them with him wherever he goes," she said.
 
If he were any other Republican incumbent who inherited declining unemployment numbers and was able to sustain them, Trump would have a legitimate case to make to black voters, said Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. But "because of some of his racial pronouncements... I think a significant percentage of African Americans are completely turned off."
 
A September AP-NORC poll found that only roughly three in 10 Americans say the things Trump has done as president have been good for African Americans. And just four per cent of African Americans said they think Trump's actions have had a positive impact on African Americans in general, while 81 per cent said they think they've been bad.
 
Yet even if he can't win over black voters, some suspect that's not the point. As long as the campaign can keep on-the-fence voters from casting their ballots for the eventual Democratic nominee, the campaign will be helping Trump inch closer to a second victory.
 
Some analysts have pointed to a precipitous drop in black turnout in 2016 as one of the reasons Trump beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who was far less popular - especially among black men - than former president Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.
 
According to the US Census Bureau, about 60 per cent of non-Hispanic blacks voted in 2016, versus about 67 per cent in 2012. And that drop was seen in cities with significant African American populations in critical swing states that helped Trump eke out a victory.
 
"I do think the main objective is to discourage turnout," said Johnson. "I absolutely think this is about creating doubt in black voters' minds about the Democratic nominee" so people feel like "there's almost no one worth voting for."
 
And he said that fears were growing it might work. "There is a pretty tangible fear among black Americans that Trump is going to win again because black turnout won't be enough to mute the white turnout," he said. "There's a sense that in 2020 he's going to win again."
 
AP
Trump reportedly offered grieving family of Harry Dunn a cheque
 
The bereaved family of British teenager Harry Dunn, killed in a road accident in Northamptonshire by the wife of an American diplomat who subsequently fled the country, were reportedly a cheque by President Trump when they visited the White House on 15 October.
 
Charlotte Charles, the deceased's mother, reportedly told Trump that money "is not going to bring Harry back".
 

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