Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who accuses Donald Trump of assault, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the president-elect.
She alleges Donald Trump forced himself on her in 2007.
The lawsuit, which Summer Zervos announced at a news conference, alleges Donald Trump is a “liar and misogynist” who “debased and denigrated” her.
The news came just three days before Donald Trump is sworn in as president.
Donald Trump faced a spate of misconduct allegations in the run up to the election, all of which he has denied.
At the time, he dismissed them as “false and ridiculous” and said they were “sick” and driven by fame, money or politics.
Photo Getty Images
“Since Mr. Trump has not issued a retraction, as I requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative but to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation,” Summer Zervos told journalists in LA on January 17.
The former Apprentice contestant was joined by her lawyer, Gloria Allred, a Democratic Party activist, who said the plaintiff’s allegations had passed a lie detector test.
Summer Zervos, 41, is one of several women who came forward to accuse the incoming 45th president of assault after the October release of a 2005 videotape in which he is heard making lewd comments about groping women.
The former reality show contestant said Donald Trump had assaulted her during a meeting to discuss job opportunities at a Beverly Hills hotel.
Donald Trump has not filed a lawsuit against any of the women, despite an earlier threat to sue the accusers.
Summer Zervos’ lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump defamed her by denying her account and accusing her and other women of fabricating assault claims.
She asked the president-elect to retract his words late last year, but he declined to do so.
Gloria Allred said Donald Trump “knowingly, intentionally and maliciously threw each of these women under the bus” and that repeatedly calling them “liars” in public caused distress.
Summer Zervos added that she would be willing to rescind the lawsuit if Donald Trump retracts the statements he made and acknowledges his behavior towards her.
Following her allegations, the Trump campaign released a statement from someone it identified as Summer Zervos’ first cousin.
John Barry wrote that he was “shocked and bewildered” by her allegations, insisting Summer Zervos had only previously said “glowing” things about Donald Trump.
More Democratic lawmakers have said they plan to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th US president on January 20.
The boycott comes amidst a feud between Donald Trump and the civil rights activist and congressman, John Lewis.
Up to now, more than 50 House Democrats announced they are refusing to watch the president-elect’s inauguration.
John Lewis, a revered member of the 1960s struggle, sparked controversy on January 13 when he called Donald Trump’s victory illegitimate because of Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
Donald Trump hit back on Twitter, attacking the Georgia lawmaker as “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results”, which prompted a wave of outrage from people saying if anyone embodied action, it was John Lewis.
Dozens of members of Congress have announced they will skip the inauguration ceremony.
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota tweeted following the row: “I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate.”
Maryland Representative Anthony G. Brown also tweeted: “Skipping Inauguration. @RepJohnLewis a civil rights hero. Enormous responsibility to be POTUS. I respect the office, can’t tolerate disrespect.”
Image source Flickr
The number grew to more than 40 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, but that did not stop Donald Trump from continuing to rail against the 76-year-old civil rights icon on January 17.
Donald Trump tweeted that John Lewis had falsely claimed this would be the first inauguration he has missed since joining Congress in 1987.
“WRONG (or lie)!” the president-elect tweeted, saying John Lewis had skipped George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001.
John Lewis’ office confirmed that he did miss President George W. Bush’s ceremony.
Spokeswoman Brenda Jones said: “His absence at that time was also a form of dissent.
“He did not believe the outcome of that election, including the controversies around the results in Florida and the unprecedented intervention of the US Supreme Court, reflected a free, fair and open democratic process.”
An estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people are expected to flood Washington on January 20 for the inauguration, but it is unclear whether they will be there in celebration or protest, officials said.
President Barack Obama drew an estimated 1.8 million people to Washington when he took office in 2009.
The “level of enthusiasm” and demand for hotel rooms has not reached that of previous inaugurations, according to Elliott Ferguson, president of Destination DC, the city’s convention and tourism bureau.
In fact, some hotels have reduced the minimum-night stay from four nights to two.
Other hotels are only 50% full, but higher-end hotels appeared to have more bookings, he added.
Donald Trump’s swearing-in comes at a time when the nation appears deeply divided after the contested election.
Though Donald Trump swept the Electoral College, his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million more votes.
Recent polls have also showed historically low marks for any presidential transition.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found just 40% of Americans view Donald Trump favorably compared with the 79% President Barack Obama received in 2009.
A CNN/ORC survey released on January 17 also showed Donald Trump with a 40% approval rating compared with the 84% Barack Obama had in 2009.
A Gallup poll conducted two weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration found 51% of respondents disapproved of how he is handling the presidential transition compared with 44% who approved.
Vladimir Putin has described allegations Russia holds compromising material on President-elect Donald Trump as “utter nonsense”.
The Russian president questioned what reason Russian intelligence would have had to spy on Donald Trump before he entered politics.
Vladimir Putin said those making the allegations were “worse than prostitutes”.
Memos published last week alleged Donald Trump’s election team colluded with Russia which also had salacious videos of his private life.
The allegations claim Russia has damaging information about Donald Trump’s business interests, and that Trump had been filmed with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
Donald Trump has dismissed the memos, said to have been prepared by a former British spy, as “fake news”.
Image NBC News
Speaking in Moscow, Vladimir Putin also said the published documents were “clearly fakes”, published by those trying to “undermine the legitimacy of the elected president”.
“When Trump came to Moscow, he was not a political figure, we were not even aware of his political ambitions,” he said.
“Does somebody think that our secret services are chasing every American billionaire? Of course not. It is utter nonsense.”
Vladimir Putin added that he did not see why Donald Trump would rush to meet prostitutes in Moscow, given he was organizing beauty pageants and meeting “the most beautiful women in the world”.
“I find it hard to imagine he ran to a hotel to meet our girls of <<low social responsibility>>… though they are of course also the best in the world. But I doubt Trump took that bait.”
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the UK ex-spy said to have prepared the memos is “some runaway crook from the MI6”.
US intelligence agencies considered the claims relevant enough to brief both Donald Trump and President Barack Obama.
Donald Trump accused US intelligence of leaking the content from a classified briefing – a claim denied by National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
Vladimir Putin also said reports that Russian hackers had interfered in the US election were “fake news”, though he told people to keep in mind that “the hackers didn’t make anything up – whoever they were – they just uncovered material”.
The hacking scandal dominated the US election campaign, with US spy agencies concluding Russia was behind the hacking and release of Democratic Party emails intended to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Russia has consistently denied it.
Signaling optimism that the US-Russia relationship will improve under the new administration, Sergei Lavrov said he was encouraged by some pragmatic comments from the Trump team so far.
Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was ready to co-operate with the new administration on key issues including nuclear weapons and Syria. US representatives have been invited to Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan next week but are yet to respond, he added.
“I am convinced we will be able to restart a dialogue on strategic stability with Washington that was destroyed along with everything else by the Obama administration,” Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Reuters.
US-Russia relations have worsened significantly in recent years over the war in Ukraine, the Syrian conflict and cyber-hacking.
Donald Trump has said German Chancellor Angela Merkel made “one very catastrophic mistake” by admitting more than 1 million refugees.
The president-elect said Angela Merkel was by far Europe’s most important leader, and that the EU had become a vehicle for Germany.
Donald Trump was giving details of his foreign policy goals in an interview with British and German newspapers, Times and Bild.
He told the publications his priority was to create fairer trade deals for the US and have strong borders.
Donald Trump said the United States had to address its trade deficit with the rest of the world, particularly with China.
The emphasis for his administration should be smart trade, rather than free trade, the president-elect said.
The interview was conducted for the Times by UK’s lawmaker Michael Gove, who played a key role in the Vote Leave campaign that led to Brexit, and who also has a column in the newspaper.
An image of Michael Gove and Donald Trump giving a thumbs-up at New York’s Trump Tower, where they met, was shared on Twitter.
Image source Flickr
Asked about a possible deal with Russia, Donald Trump said nuclear weapons should be part of it and “reduced very substantially”, in return for lifting US sanctions.
Turning to the Middle East, Donald Trump condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq as possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of the country, and said safe zones should have been created within Syria and paid for by the United States’ Gulf allies.
In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said he was close to finalizing a replacement for President Barack Obama’s healthcare program, the Affordable Care Act.
Donald Trump gave few details, other than saying there would be healthcare for everybody and that costs would be lower.
The president-elect said he was waiting for his nominee for health secretary, Tom Price, to be confirmed, before unveiling the plan.
Donald Trump also spoke about the UK and Brexit, saying he thought the UK was “so smart in getting out” of the EU.
“Countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” he said.
“I think you’re doing great, I think it’s going great.”
Donald Trump predicted that more countries would follow the same path.
“I think people want . . . their own identity, so if you ask me … I believe others will leave.”
During the interview, Donald Trump said he thought Angela Merkel was the “by far the most important European leader”.
“If you look at the European Union, it’s Germany – it’s basically a vehicle for Germany,” he said.
“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals.”
Donald Trump linked the migrant issue with the UK referendum vote to leave the EU.
“I do believe this, if they [EU countries] hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it . . . entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.
“It probably could have worked out but this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Donald Trump repeated his vow to be tough on immigration into the US.
“People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country. In this country we are going to go very strong borders from the day I get in,” he said.
The president-elect also stressed that he would “start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs. Merkel” on taking office, but would “see how long that lasts”.
Talking about international security, Donald Trump argued that he had said “a long time ago that NATO had problems”.
“One: that it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago, and number two: that the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”
He said that only five countries were paying what they should into the NATO budget.
“Five. It’s not much… With that being said, NATO is very important to me.”
Donald Trump was also asked if he would continue to use Twitter after his inauguration, and said he would keep up his habit of publishing streams of messages on the social network.
“It’s working – and the tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly,” he said.
“I can go bing bing bing . . . and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out. This morning on television Fox: <<Donald Trump, we have breaking news>>.”
CIA Director John Brennan has warned President-elect Donald Trump to avoid off-the-cuff remarks once he takes office.
The outgoing CIA chief said spontaneity was not in the interests of national security.
Donald Trump is known for regularly making broad pronouncements on issues of national importance on his Twitter feed.
John Brennan also said that Donald Trump did not fully appreciate Russia’s capabilities or intentions.
He said: “I think Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions that it’s taken in the past number of years is a road that he, I think, needs to be very, very careful about moving down.”
Image source Wikimedia
John Brennan’s remarks, in an interview for Fox News Sunday, come a week after the release of a US intelligence report which said Russian President Vladimir Putin had likely attempted to influence the election.
Donald Trump is considered to have underplayed for months the conclusions of the intelligence community that Moscow hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The president-elect only accepted them at a news conference on January 11.
Meanwhile both the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s team have denied reports in the Sunday Times that the two sides were planning a summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.
Reykjavik was the venue for a summit in 1986 – near the end of the Cold War – between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the then US and Soviet leaders.
John Brennan said “talking and tweeting” was not an option for Donald Trump, who takes office on January 20.
“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests and so therefore when he speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States could be profound,” he said.
“It’s more than just about Mr. Trump. It’s about the United States of America.”
John Brennan also took Donald Trump to task for accusing the intelligence services of leaking an unverified dossier which suggests Russian security officials have compromising material on him, which could make him vulnerable to blackmail.
“What I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” the CIA chief said, referring to a tweet by Donald Trump on January 11.
“There is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”
However, Donald Trump responded with tweets quoting veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, who told Fox News Sunday that the dossier should never have been presented at an intelligence briefing and that the intelligence services should apologize for their mistake.
The media should also apologize, Donald Trump added.
Donald Trump has described the claims as “fake news” and “phoney stuff”.
Russia also denies the existence of the dossier and says allegations that it ran a hacking campaign to influence the elections are “reminiscent of a witch-hunt”.
Congressman and civil rights campaigner John Lewis has been defended by politicians, entertainers and many others after he became embroiled in a row with President-elect Donald Trump.
The president-elect tweeted that John Lewis was “all talk” and should focus on his constituents, after he said Donald Trump was not a legitimate president.
However, John Lewis’ supporters reacted with anger, saying he was a hero and icon.
John Lewis was a leading figure in the 1960s civil rights movement.
He is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King.
The row came as civil rights activists led by Rev. Al Sharpton began a week of protests ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
Several thousand protesters braved near-freezing temperatures to march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, chanting: “No justice, no peace.”
In a separate development on January 14, African American Broadway star Jennifer Holliday pulled out of performing at the inauguration after pressure from followers, many of them from the LGBT community.
Jennifer Holliday, who has sung for both Republican and Democrat presidents, apologized for her “lapse of judgement” and said she did not realize her participation would be seen as expressing support for Donald Trump.
Democrat John Lewis said on January 13 he would not attend the inauguration on the grounds that he did not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president.
He told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.
“And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Donald Trump tweeted on January 14: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
Donald Trump has turned his fire on Hillary Clinton, after an investigation was launched into the action taken by the FBI during the election campaign.
The FBI and the DoJ face questions over their handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation 11 days before the election shook up the race.
Donald Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton was “guilty as hell”.
He continues to fire out tweets on a range of subjects just a week before his inauguration.
In the latest batch his anger over alleged compromising material held on him by Russia shows no sign of abating, again calling it “fake news” and “phony allegations” put together by “my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued”.
Donald Trump then turned to January 12 announcement that a US government watchdog was to investigate the actions taken by the FBI and the justice department during the election campaign.
After he won the election, Donald Trump had toned down his rhetoric against his opponent, refusing to follow up on his election mantra that she should be “locked up” for criminal behavior.
On January 13, the president-elect tweeted: “What are Hillary Clinton’s people complaining about with respect to the FBI. Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run – guilty as hell.
“They were VERY nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states – no enthusiasm!”
On January 12, the DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look into “certain actions” by the FBI and DoJ.
Although Hillary Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing days before the US voted, her team blamed James Comey’s announcement as a key factor in her defeat.
Michael Horowitz said his review would look at a news conference in July 2016 when James Comey said he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton.
A letter to Congress on October 28, in which James Comey said there were more emails to look at, will also be subject to this new inquiry.
Michael Horowitz said his investigation had come in response to “numerous” requests from the public and from members of Congress.
Hillary Clinton said she had set up a home email server for reasons of convenience, but admitted it was a mistake.
In clearing her in July, the FBI said Hillary Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in handling classified materials. However, there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, it said.
Then in October they briefly reopened the investigation after finding new related emails but nothing was found on them and the case was closed for a second time.
In another of his tweets, the president-elect repeated that: “My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!”
In his press conference on January 11, Donald Trump said he wanted a report into hacking of all types, including defense and industry.
The president-elect also admitted for the first time “I think it was Russia” when asked about hacking of the election campaign, but said many others had also hacked the US.
US intelligence agencies this month released an unclassified version of a report alleging that the Russian government had a “clear preference” for Donald Trump to win the US election.
The report says Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the outcome.
US intelligence agencies are also weighing claims that Moscow is holding compromising information about Donald Trump.
Unsubstantiated allegations suggest Donald Trump’s election team colluded with Russia and that there were salacious videos of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.
In his series of tweets on January 13, Donald Trump called the claims “made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives”.
VP Joe Biden has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor.
President Barack Obama praised Joe Biden for his “faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and your lifetime of service”.
The award comes as both men prepare to leave office when Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.
The vice-president has said he plans to stay active in Democratic Party politics.
A visibly emotional Joe Biden stood by as President Obama heaped praise on what he called the “best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people”.
According to the New York Times, the medal was awarded with distinction.
Image source NBC News
That additional honor has been reserved in recent administrations for just a handful of recipients, including Pope John Paul II.
Barack Obama joked that the internet would have one last chance to mock the pair’s “bromance”.
Joe Biden said he was “part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things”.
The vice-president said that he had had no idea the award was coming.
“I had no inkling. I thought we were coming over to Michelle for you, Jill and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.
“Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill but I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.
“Mr. President, I’m indebted to you. I’m indebted to your friendship. I’m indebted to your family.”
Barack Obama said that Joe Biden’s career was “nowhere close to finished” both at home or abroad.
The vice-president has said he plans to work on policy issues at institutes at the University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania, and continue his efforts tackling cancer, which claimed his son Beau in 2015.
Joe Biden gave an hour-long interview with media outlets on January 12 in which he strongly criticized Donald Trump for his condemnation of the US intelligence services.
“It is really very damaging in my view to our standing in the world for a president to take one of the crown jewels of our national defense and denigrate it,” he said.
“It plays into, particularly now, the Russian narrative that America doesn’t know what it’s doing.”
However, Joe Biden was full of praise for his successor, Mike Pence, saying he had sent him memos on how to handle certain situations.
Walter Shaub, the director of the US Office of Government Ethics, has sharply criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to hand his global business empire to his sons before his inauguration on January 20.
Donald Trump’s plan does not match the “standards” of US presidents over the last 40 years, Walter Shaub said.
A Trump lawyer said earlier the new trust would face “severe restrictions” on new deals.
However, Walter Shaub said the plan would not remove conflicts of interest.
Image source YouTube
Referring to a process whereby Donald Trump would sell off his corporate assets and put the profits into a blind trust run by an independent trustee, Walter Shaub said: “Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture.”
At a news conference on January 11, lawyer Sherri Dillon said that management of the Trump Organization would be transferred to a trust controlled by Donald Trump’s sons Don and Eric and CFO Allen Weisselberg.
The Trump Organization is an umbrella company for Donald Trump’s hundreds of investments in real estate, brands and other businesses.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Donald Trump’s pick as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said it is a “fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind US election hacks.
The former CEO of Exxon Mobil told the hearing committee the intelligence report on Russian tampering “clearly is troubling”.
Rex Tillerson’s comments came after Senator Marco Rubio pressed him to admit Vladimir Putin’s role in the cyber-breach.
His reported good ties with Vladimir Putin have alarmed some in the United States.
Rex Tillerson, 64, faced tough questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11.
In a heated exchange, Marco Rubio grilled him on whether intelligence reports about Russia’s involvement in hacks on the US election were accurate and if Vladimir Putin had directed the attacks.
Rex Tillerson said he had no inside information on the detailed intelligence about Russia’s hacking, but he had read the declassified US report released last week on the issue.
The Florida senator suggested that Vladimir Putin was responsible for war crimes because of Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and bombing of Aleppo.
However, the Texan multimillionaire told Marco Rubio he would not describe Vladimir Putin as a war criminal.
Image source Flickr
Rex Tillerson said: “I would not use that term.”
“Those are very, very serious charges to make and I’d want to have much more information before reaching that conclusion,” he added.
Marco Rubio – who was one of Donald Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination – said he had “serious concerns” about Rex Tillerson as America’s top diplomat.
While Rex Tillerson was grilled by senators in Washington DC, up in New York Donald Trump was rejecting claims that Russian intelligence agencies have compromising information about the president-elect.
In his first news conference in nearly six months on January 11, at Trump Tower, Donald Trump dismissed the allegations against him as “fake news” and “phony stuff” crafted by “sick people”.
Russia has called the allegations “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.
In his Senate statement, Rex Tillerson warned that Americans should be “clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia”.
“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war,” he said.
“Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia,” he added.
It is Rex Tillerson’s connections to Russia that have drawn the most flak in recent months.
Rex Tillerson has forged multi-billion-dollar deals with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, spoken out against international sanctions imposed on Moscow and in 2013 was awarded an Order of Friendship by the Kremlin.
In his farewell speech in Chicago, President Barack Obama has called on Americans to defend their democracy.
He told thousands of supporters: “By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was eight years ago.”
However, Barack Obama warned “democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted”.
The incumbent president implored Americans of all backgrounds to consider things from each other’s point of view, saying “we have to pay attention and listen”.
Barack Obama, who is America’s first black president, was first elected in 2008 on a message of hope and change.
His successor, Donald Trump, has vowed to undo some of Barack Obama’s signature policies.
Photo White House
Donald Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, January 20.
Raucous chants of “four more years” from the crowd were brushed aside by the president.
“I can’t do that,” Barack Obama said with a smile. US presidents are limited to two terms by the constitution.
“No, no, no, no no,” he said, when the crowd booed the prospect of Donald Trump replacing him.
Striking an upbeat tone, Barack Obama said that the peaceful transfer of power between presidents was a “hallmark” of American democracy.
However, Barack Obama outlined three threats to American democracy – economic inequality, racial divisions and the retreat of different segments of society into “bubbles”, where opinions are not based on “some common baseline of facts”.
“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life,” he said to laughter and applause.
In his closing remarks, Barack Obama said he had one final request for Americans as president: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”
Returning to Chicago, where he first declared victory in 2008, Barack Obama delivered a mostly positive message to Americans after a divisive election campaign which saw Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Barack Obama said that young Americans – including those who worked on his campaigns, and who believe “in a fair, just, inclusive America” – left him feeling “even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started”.
In choosing Chicago, Barack Obama had earlier said he wanted to return to “where it all started” for him and First Lady Michelle Obama, instead of delivering the speech from the White House.
Barack Obama said that it was in Chicago as a young man, “still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for purpose in my life”, that he “witnessed the power of faith and dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss”.
“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it,” he said.
“After eight years as your president I still believe that.”
Some 18,000 people attended the farewell address at McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America and the venue for Barack Obama’s speech after he defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
The tickets were given out free, but were selling online for more than $1,000 each hours ahead of the speech.
As he leaves the Oval Office, President Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 57% of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, a similar level to Bill Clinton when he left office.
A number of Democrats have called for Donald Trump’s naming of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a top adviser to be reviewed over concerns of nepotism and conflict of interest.
The group wants the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to scrutinize “legal issues” related to the appointment of Jared Kushner.
His lawyer says the post does not breach anti-nepotism laws.
Jared Kushner, 36, is married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
The millionaire will step down as boss of his family’s real estate business and publisher of the New York Observer newspaper in order to comply with ethics laws, his lawyer Jamie Gorelick said.
Jared Kushner will also divest “substantial assets”, she said.
Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th US president on January 20.
Several of his cabinet picks have business interests that will be scrutinized at confirmation hearings taking place this week.
Donald Trump’s selection for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is the first to face Senate confirmation hearings on January 10. He was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of alleged racist remarks.
Unlike cabinet positions, advisers are considered part of White House staff and do not require approval from Congress.
Jared Kushner is a vastly wealthy property developer and publisher who played an influential role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and has been included in key meetings with foreign leaders during the transition period.
Image source Wikimedia
An Orthodox Jew whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, Jared Kushner was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and went on to study sociology at Harvard.
His father, also a property mogul, was jailed for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering in 2005 by Chris Christie – then the US attorney for New Jersey.
Jared Kushner is said to have played a key role in the ousting of Chris Christie, by then New Jersey governor, from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team last year.
In his new role, Jared Kushner will initially focus on trade policy and the Middle East, according to officials from the transition team.
On January 8, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon met UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
The nepotism rule, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967, prevents public officials from promoting a relative “to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control”.
It is thought to have been prompted by JFK’s appointment of brother Robert to the post of attorney general in 1960.
The law would stop a president from giving a cabinet job to a relative – but it is unclear whether it applies to positions in the White House team.
Those that say it does not point to President Bill Clinton’s appointment of First Lady Hillary Clinton as chair of his health care reforms package in 1993.
In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, argue that a “strong case” can be made that the 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute applies to staff working in the White House, a position rejected by Donald Trump’s team.
They also raise questions about how, even with significant divestment, Jared Kushner could completely avoid conflicts of interest in his White House role.
Concerns have been raised about his relationships with foreign investors.
The New York Times reported on January 7 that Jared Kushner met the head of an insurance group with links to the Chinese government over development plans for his skyscraper, 666 Fifth Avenue, just days after Donald Trump won the presidential election. His spokeswoman, quoted by the paper, said the timing of the meeting was a coincidence and he had already decided to sell his stake in the building.
As his appointment as special adviser was announced, Jared Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said he was committed to complying with federal ethics laws and had consulted with the Office of Government Ethics about what steps to take.
She added that he would not be paid for the advisory role.
Jared Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, will step down from executive roles at the Trump Organization as well as her own fashion brands.
However, she will not be taking an official role in her father’s government – for now at least – and instead will focus on raising her children.
Reports said last week that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and their children would be moving into a $5.5 million home in Washington DC’s wealthy Kalorama neighborhood – at least for some time.
The Obama family is due to be moving to the same area after leaving the White House.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced in November that his wife, Melania, would be staying in New York – at least initially – after his inauguration to allow their youngest son, Barron, to finish the school year.
Five prominent Russians have been blacklisted by the Obama administration, just 11 days before the president leaves office.
Chief federal investigator Alexander Bastrykin and two men wanted in the UK for the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko are among them.
The US sanctions come amid worsening ties, including claims Russia ran a cyber campaign to influence the November 8 election.
President-elect Donald Trump is seeking to restore closer relations with Russia.
According to officials, the sanctions are not related to the hacking but come under a 2012 law designed to punish human rights violators.
Under the act named after Russian tax fraud whistleblower Sergey Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009, people on the list have their US assets blocked and are banned from travelling to the United States.
It originally targeted officials implicated in Sergey Magnitsky’s death, but has since been broadened to cover other human rights cases.
Image source Moscow Times
The five persons to be blacklisted are: Alexander Bastrykin, a close aide to President Vladimir Putin and head of the federal investigative agency, who has led campaigns against domestic dissidents and foreign NGOs working in Russia. US officials say he was complicit in the Magnitsky case; Gennady Plaksin, former head of the Universal Savings Bank, and Stanislav Gordiyevsky, former investigative agency official. Both are said to be involved in covering up Magnitsky’s death; Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, the main suspects in the poisoning of former KGB agent and London exile Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
Alexander Litvinenko died after drinking tea laced with a rare radioactive substance at a hotel in London.
Both Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun deny any involvement in the killing, and efforts to extradite the men to the UK have failed.
Last month, Washington expelled 35 Russian diplomats following allegations by US intelligence services that Russia had ordered the hacking of Democratic Party emails to damage Donald Trump’s Democrat rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.
Russia denies the allegations and on January 9 described them as a witch-hunt, but has so far not responded to the expulsions.
After the 35 were thrown out, Russia declined to respond in kind, with President Vladimir Putin saying his country would not stoop to “irresponsible diplomacy”.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, is said to have accepted the findings of the report but has declined to single out Russia as the source of the hacking.
President-elect Donald Trump has reacted to Meryl Streep’s criticism during her acceptance speech at this year’s Golden Globes.
Meryl Streep received a lifetime achievement award at the 74th Golden Globes ceremony.
Donald Trump has responded on Twitter: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes.
“She is a Hillary flunky who lost big.”
Meryl Streep had referred to Donald Trump during her Globes acceptance speech without naming him.
The three-time Oscar-winning actress told the Golden Globes audience in Beverly Hills on January 8: “It kind of broke my heart.
“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life. Because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”
Image source Getty Images
Meryl Streep said she had been stunned by the president-elect mocking a disabled reporter during a campaign appearance.
Donald Trump tweeted: “For the 100th time, I never <<mocked>> a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him <<groveling>> when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”
The president-elect, who is due to be inaugurated on January 20, performed an impression of Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition, at a rally in South Carolina during the presidential campaign trail in November 2016.
Meryl Streep also referred to immigration, saying: “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Donald Trump is considered by many to have a hard-line stance on immigration policy.
Barack Obama has revealed he advised his successor Donald Trump not to attempt to run the White House “the way you would manage a family business”.
In an interview with ABC News, the outgoing president said that Donald Trump must “respect” US institutions.
Barack Obama said: “After you have been sworn in, you are now in charge of the largest organization on Earth.”
The president warned that there was a difference between governing and campaigning.
“There are world capitals and financial markets and people all around the world who take really seriously what he [Donald Trump] says,” he said.
Image source AP
Barack Obama also talked about the US intelligence agency’s report into alleged cyber-attacks by Russia and the attempt to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign.
He said that he had “underestimated” the impact of such attacks.
Barack Obama said: “I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation… and so forth to have an impact on our open societies.”
He added that a conversation had taken place with Donald Trump in which he had discussed the importance of having faith in the intelligence community.
“There are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working,” the president said.
Last week Donald Trump said he was a “big fan” of intelligence agencies, after months of casting doubt on the Russian link to the security breach. But he later raised questions over how the Democratic Party had responded to the cyber-attacks.
Donald Trump will be inaugurated on Friday, January 20.
President-elect Donald Trump says Democrats have shown “gross negligence” by allowing their servers to be hacked in the run-up to the November 8 presidential election.
Donald Trump made the comments after an intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “sought to help Donald Trump win”.
He has stopped short of accusing Russia of interfering, saying only that the election outcome was not affected.
The Kremlin has not commented, but Russia has previously denied the claims.
Following the report’s findings, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that voting machines and other election databases would be classified as “critical infrastructure” and given more protection from cyber-attacks.
Emphasizing that the election outcome was not affected, Donald Trump added on January 7: “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”
Image source Flickr
In an interview with ABC, President Barack Obama said that he was concerned that there had been “Republicans or pundits or cable commentators who seem to have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than fellow Americans because those fellow Americans are Democrats.
“That cannot be.”
Asked whether Donald Trump was among them, President Obama said: “We have to remind ourselves we’re on the same team. Vladimir Putin’s not on our team.”
The unclassified report says that Russia developed a “clear preference” for Donald Trump.
Russia’s goals, the document added, were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Hillary Clinton, harming her electability and potential presidency.
However, the report gives no detailed evidence of Vladimir Putin’s alleged role.
The report says the Russian president liked Donald Trump because he had vowed to work with Russia and the Russian leader had had “many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder”.
In contrast, Vladimir Putin had blamed Hillary Clinton for inciting anti-government protests in 2011 and early 2012 “and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him”.
According to an intelligence report, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election.
The unclassified report says Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the election.
Moscow has not commented, but Russia has previously denied the claims.
After being briefed on the findings, Donald Trump stopped short of accusing Russia of interfering, saying only that the election outcome was not affected.
The president-elect later went on to blame “gross negligence” by the DNC for “allowing” the hacking to take place.
Following the report’s findings, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that voting machines and other election databases would be classified as “critical infrastructure” and given more protection from cyber-attack.
The 25-page report says that Russia developed a “clear preference” for Donald Trump.
Russia’s goals, the document added, were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Hillary Clinton, harming her electability and potential presidency.
Image NBC News
The report said: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”
The unclassified version contained no detailed evidence of Vladimir Putin’s alleged role, but it said Russia’s actions included: hacking into the email accounts of the DNC and top Democrats; using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 persona to release the information acquired from the hackings; using state-funded propaganda and paying social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments.
The identities of the Russian agents allegedly directly responsible for the hack are known to US authorities but have not been released publicly, reports say, citing intelligence sources.
The report, a cut-down version of the classified document presented to President Barack Obama on January 5, was released shortly after intelligence chiefs briefed Donald Trump on their findings.
Since winning the election on November 8, Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned US intelligence claims of Russian hacking.
In a statement after the briefing, Donald Trump declined to single out Russia, but said he had “tremendous respect for the work and service done” by those in the US intelligence community.
He said: “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.
“Whether it is our government, organizations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyber-attacks. I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office.”
The meeting at Trump Tower involved National Intelligence Director Gen. James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey.
Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on January 20, described their talks as “constructive”.
Vice-President Joe Biden has told Donald Trump to “grow up” and criticized his attacks on the intelligence community.
On January 6, Donald Trump will be briefed on allegations that Russia meddled in the US presidential election – claims he has cast doubt on.
Joe Biden said it was “absolutely mindless” for Donald Trump not to have faith in intelligence agencies.
Russia denies hacking alleged to have helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
On January 5, the president-elect questioned how intelligence agencies were confident about the alleged Russian hacking “if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers” belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
In an interview with the PBS, Donald Trump: “For a president not to have confidence in, not to be prepared to listen to, the myriad intelligence agencies, from defense intelligence to the CIA, is absolutely mindless.
“The idea that you may know more than the intelligence community knows – it’s like saying I know more about physics than my professor. I didn’t read the book, I just know I know more.”
When asked what he thought of Donald Trump’s regular attacks on Twitter, Joe Biden said: “Grow up Donald, grow up, time to be an adult, you’re president. Time to do something. Show us what you have.”
The VP went on to call Donald Trump “a good man”.
Joe Biden said he had read a US intelligence agencies report outlining Russian involvement, the details of which are starting to emerge in media.
According to the Washington Post and NBC News citing intelligence sources, agencies had intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election showing senior Russian government officials celebrating Donald Trump’s win over rival Hillary Clinton.
US authorities had also identified Russian actors who delivered stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website.
NBC News says the alleged Russian hacking targeted not just the DNC but also the White House, joint chiefs of staff, the department of state and large US corporations.
An unclassified version will be made public next week.
Joe Biden said the report clearly details “that the Russians did, as a matter of policy, attempt to affect and… discredit the US electoral process”.
He said the hacking was part of a systematic campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta was among those hacked on the DNC server.
On January 5, the Director of National Intelligence, Gen James Clapper, told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hack, and said the motive would be revealed next week.
President Barack Obama last week ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US over the alleged hacking. Russia has said it will not reciprocate.
Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected allegations that the Russian government hacked into the computers of John Podesta or the servers of the DNC.
On January 4, the president-elect repeated a suggestion that “a 14-year-old” may have been responsible for the breach.
On January 5, he said he was a “big fan” of intelligence agencies, after months of casting doubt on the Russian link, but later went on to raise questions over how the Democratic Party responded to the security breach.
Last week, Donald Trump said he would announce information about hacking “on Tuesday or Wednesday”, but no announcement came.
Former Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, who organized Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico, has been named as President Enrique Pena Nieto’s new foreign minister.
Luis Videgaray was sacked as finance minister in 2016 over the role he played in organizing the visit of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Donald Trump had angered Mexicans, calling Mexican immigrants to the US “rapists”.
Luis Videgaray will now lead talks with the Trump administration, including on the wall the president-elect has promised to build between the US and Mexico.
Announcing the appointment, President Enrique Pena Nieto said that “the instruction to minister Videgaray is to accelerate the dialogue and contacts so that, from the first day of the new [US] administration, we can establish the basis of a constructive working relationship”.
Image source Wikipedia
Luis Videgaray was seen as the main organizer of the meeting between Donald Trump and President Enrique Pena Nieto in August, which was criticized by Mexicans both in the national press and on social media.
Many Mexicans saw the invitation by Enrique Pena Nieto as a sign that the Mexican president was bowing to Donald Trump even though the latter had said during his campaign that he wanted to build a border wall between the US and Mexico which he insisted Mexico would pay for.
Enrique Pena Nieto said the meeting was to convey Mexico’s interests to Donald Trump.
When Donald Trump appeared at a campaign rally in the US just hours later again promising that Mexico would pay for his planned wall “100%”, President Pena Nieto said that “we could have done things in a better way”.
Luis Videgaray stepped down from his post as finance minister just days after the visit and a spokesperson for the ministry said at the time that Videgaray would not take on another public office.
However, on January 4, President Enrique Pena Nieto named him as his new foreign minister, saying that Luis Videgaray would “promote Mexico’s interests without diminishing our sovereignty and the dignity of Mexicans”.
Luis Videgaray is replacing Claudia Ruiz Massieu who reportedly was opposed to President Enrique Pena Nieto hosting Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has in the past praised Luis Videgaray as “brilliant”.
Donald Trump has backed Julian Assange in casting doubt on intelligence alleging Russian hacking the US election.
The WikiLeaks founder said Russia was not the source for the site’s mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party.
The president-elect has now backed that view in a tweet, writting: “Assange… said Russians did not give him the info!”
Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to accept the conclusions of the US intelligence community.
Several US agencies including the FBI and the CIA believe Russia directed hacks against the Democratic Party and the campaign of its presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The information, released through WikiLeaks and other outlets, was intended to help Donald Trump win the election, say the FBI and CIA.
Image source RT
On January 3, Donald Trump said an intelligence briefing he was due to receive on the issue had been delayed.
“Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” he wrote.
However, intelligence officials insisted there had been no delay in the briefing schedule.
In an interview with Fox News, Julian Assange repeated his claim that Russia was not behind the leak.
He also said a 14-year-old boy could have carried out one of the hacks, on the email account of Hillary Clinton’s aide, John Podesta.
In 2010, several leading Republican figures were calling for Julian Assange to be imprisoned after his website published thousands of embarrassing diplomatic cables leaked by former Army Pte. Chelsea Manning.
Donald Trump tweeted twice on January 4 in support of what Julian Assange said on Fox News.
However, the president-elect has previously been critical of the WikiLeaks organization.
When asked by a Fox News reporter in 2010 to comment on leaks, Donald Trump responded: “I think it’s disgraceful, I think there should be like death penalty or something.”