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Mick Mulvaney is Donald Trump’s choice of new acting White House chief of staff, but he was not always a fan of the president, a 2016 video has revealed.

A video shows Mick Mulvaney describing Donald Trump as “a terrible human being”. He made the disparaging remark in a debate shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

He said: “Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being.”

Mick Mulvaney also describes Donald Trump’s then opponent, Hillary Clinton, as “just as bad”.

The 51-year-old is a formerRepublican Congressman.The video, which was obtained by the Daily Beast was taken during a debate with Democratic challenger Fran Person in York, South Carolina.

Donald Trump Tape: John McCain and Condoleezza Rice Withdraw Support After Women Remarks

Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Mick Mulvaney is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and takes up his new role in January.

An OMB spokeswoman told the New York Times that the remarks had been made before Mick Mulvaney had met President Trump and was “old news”.

Meghan Burris said Mick Mulvaney “both likes and respects the president, and he likes working for him”.

The White House has not responded.

Meanwhile, a 2016 Facebook post shows that Mick Mulvaney described Donald Trump as “not a very good person”, NBC reported.

Mick Mulvaney was responding to the release of a tape from 2005 in which Donald Trump made inappropriate comments about women.

He wrote in a post: “I think one thing we’ve learned about Donald Trump during this campaign is that he is not a very good person.

“What he said in the audiotape is disgusting and indefensible. My guess is that he has probably said even worse.”

However, he added: “I’ve decided that I don’t particularly like Donald Trump as a person. But I am still voting for him. And I am still asking other people to do the same. And there is one simple reason for that: Hillary Clinton.”

Mick Mulvaney replaces General John Kelly, who steps down at the end of the year.

President Donald Trump threatened a government shutdown over funding for his proposed border wall in a budget row with top Democrats in the Oval Office.

During a heated exchange with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, President Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over border security.

If lawmakers cannot agree on a federal budget, funding for some departments will run out at the end of next week.

President Trump has asked to include $5 billion in the deal for border security.

However, Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said they had agreed to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security at current levels of $1.3 billion until September 30, 2019.

Donald Trump to Close Down Government If Necessary to Build Mexico Border Wall

Mexico Wall: President Trump Talks Up Solar Panel Plan

Border Wall: Donald Trump Seeks Tax on Goods Imported from Mexico

President Trump opened the Oval Office meeting calling it a “great honor” to have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi present, in their firstmeeting since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in theNovember mid-term elections.

The meeting soon turned contentious as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer argued that the Republican-controlled Congress could pass legislation before funding for some agencies was set to expire on December 21.

President Trump contended that it could only pass if it met his demands for more funding for his proposed borderwall along the US southern border.

He said: “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shutdown the government.

“And I am proud to shut down the government for bordersecurity. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

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Michael Cohen has given substantial help on how Russian nationals tried to affect the 2016 election, a legal memo has revealed.

His help is detailed in the memo from Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump team.

Image source Wikimedia

 

President Trump Reimbursed Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels Hush Money, Says Rudy Giuliani

Michael Cohen’s Documents to Be Reviewed by Special Master Barbara Jones

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress

Robert Mueller’s memo is mainly to guide sentencing for crimes President Trump’s ex-lawyer has admitted.

A second memo sets out the case against Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort for breaching a plea bargain deal.

Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort are among a number of President Trump aides being investigated in Special Counsel RobertMueller’s investigation.

Both have been co-operating with his team but Robert Mueller now accuses Paul Manafort of lying.

In a separate court filing onDecember 7, prosecutors in New York made their case for the length of Michael Cohen’s sentence when it is delivered on December 5.

They say Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer should serve a “substantial” jail term after admitting violating campaign finance laws, committing tax evasion and lying to Congress.

President Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion with Russian officials, calling the investigation a “witch hunt”.

The White House said the memos offered nothing new or damaging about the president.

President Trump tweeted: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

Michael Cohen had admitted making false statements about a Trump property deal, out of loyalty to the president.

The memo says that although this crime was serious, any sentencing should be served concurrently with the NewYork prosecutors’ recommendations on other crimes.

The memo says Michael Cohen has taken “significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct”.

The memo’s key elements are about the Russian links.


Image source Jim McGrath Twitter

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have paid their respects to former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the United States Capitol.

President Trump made a brief visit to the rotunda, where the public can visit the coffin until the funeral on December 5.

Donald Trump has in the past clashed with the Bush family but will attend the funeral service.

George H.W. Bush, who died on November 30 at the age of 94, will later be buried at his Texas home alongside his wife, Barbara.

His coffin had earlier left Texas to a 21-gun salute and was carried to Washington on board Air Force One – temporarily renamed Special Air Mission 41 in homage to the late president.

George H.W. Bush, who served as the 41st president between 1989 and 1993, had been receiving treatment for a form of Parkinson’s disease and had been admitted to hospital with a blood infection in April.

The public will be able to pay respects at the rotunda until December 5, when an invitation-only funeral service will take place at the National Cathedral.

President Trump will attend with the first lady but will not deliver a speech.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies Aged 92

According to Mark Updegrove’s book The Last Republicans, which came out in 2017, George H.W. Bush voted for Donald Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton in the election and had called him a “blowhard”.

Former President George W. Bush, worried he would be the “last Republican president”, despite Donald Trump running on the party’s ticket, the book said.

A service was held in the rotunda after George H.W. Bush’s coffin arrived on December 4, with members of the military serving as pallbearers. George W. Bush was in attendance and was clearly moved by the events.

In a eulogy, House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “Here lies a great man”, adding that “no-one better harmonized the joy of life and the duty of life”.

Paul Ryan said George H.W. Bush was a “great leader and a good man, a gentle soul of firm resolve”.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said: “Through the Cold War and the Soviet Union’s collapse, he kept us on course. When the rule of law needed defending in the Persian Gulf, he kept us on course.”

Vice-President Mike Pence said there was a “kindness about the man that was evident to everyone who met him”.

George H.W. Bush was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II, a head of the CIA and vice-president to Ronald Reagan before being elected president in 1988.

Also making the final journey with President George H.W. Bush was his loyal labrador service dog, Sully.


Image source Pixabay

President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have agreed to suspend new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, the White House announces.

At a post-G20 summit meeting in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, President Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1.

China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, industrial and energy products, the US says.

Meanwhile, China says the two sides agreed to open up their markets.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Xi since a trade war erupted earlier this year.

The dispute broke out after President Trump complained China was doing nothing to cut its large surplus in bilateral trade.

US to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Handbags, Rice and Textiles

President Trump Threatens $100 Billion More in China Tariffs

China Imposes New Tariffs of Up to 25% on 128 US Imports

At the summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, the G20 leaders agreed a joint declaration that notes divisions over trade but does not criticize protectionism.

Presidents Trump and Xi held a “highly successful meeting”, the White House said in a statement.

The White House says the US tariffs on Chinese goods will remain unchanged for 90 days, but warns: “If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent.”

The US says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”.

According to the White House, both sides also pledged to “immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft”.

President Trump said earlier this year he wanted to stop the “unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China”.

According to the US, China has also signaled it will allow a tie-up between two major semiconductor manufacturers which Chinese regulators have been blocking.

The White House statement said China was “open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal”.

The US also says China agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the US.

Both sides have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods. The US has hit $250 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110 billion of US products.

President Trump had also said that if talks in Argentina were unsuccessful, he would carry out a threat to hit the remaining $267 billion of annual Chinese exports to the US with tariffs of between 10 and 25%.

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Image source Wikipedia

Michael Cohen has admitted he lied about a Trump property deal in Russia during the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. Michael Cohen said he did so out of loyalty to Donald Trump.

The president said his former right-hand man was “lying” to prosecutors in the hope of receiving a reduced sentence.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether Donald Trump colluded with it.

In August, Michael Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 election by handling hush money for Donald Trump’s alleged lovers.

Appearing unexpectedly before a federal judge in Manhattan on November 30, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress.

The president’s former lawyer said at the hearing that he had submitted a false written statement about a Trump Organization plan to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital.

He said in court: “I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to individual 1.”

Michael Cohen has previously identified “individual 1” as Donald Trump.

He was interviewed in October 2017 behind closed doors by lawmakers conducting their own investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to sway the US election two years ago.

According to the criminal complaint, Michael Cohen told the Senate and House intelligence committees that talks over the Moscow project had lasted from September 2015 until January 2016, while Donald Trump was running for the White House.

However, the document says that “as Cohen well knew”, negotiations over the Moscow project continued until June 2016.

Michael Cohen also told lawmakers he had had limited contact with Donald Trump about the project, when in fact it had been “more extensive”.

Prosecutors said Michael Cohen had tried to give a false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Republican presidential campaign properly began in 2016.

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Russia Denies Claims Its Intelligence Has Donald Trump Compromising Info

In a press scrum outside court, Michael Cohen said nothing to reporters.

His lawyer said: “Mr. Cohen has co-operated. Mr. Cohen will continue to co-operate.”

As he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr

President Trump told reporters of Michael Cohen as he left the White House for a G20 summit in Buenos Aires: “He’s a weak person and not a very smart person.

“He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up this story.”

The president told reporters of the Moscow real estate project, which never came to fruition: “When I’m running for president, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business.”

He added: “He’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it.”

Soon after those remarks, President Trump abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, citing the current Ukraine crisis.

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President Donald Trump has decided to cancel a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the naval clash between Ukraine and Russia in Kerch Strait.

On November 25, Russian border guards fired on three Ukrainian ships and seized their crews off the Crimean Peninsula.

President Trump said he would not meet President Putin at a G20 summit in the coming days, “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned”.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed the crisis “entirely” on Russia.

Angela Merkel said she would raise the issue with Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting, which is due to be held in Argentina between November 30 and December 1.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has urged NATO to send ships to the area. He has implemented martial law across Ukraine’s border regions for 30 days in response to the crisis.

Image NBC News

Ukraine Approves Martial Law after Sea Clashes with Russia

Donald Trump Warsaw Speech: “Russia Has to Stop Destabilizing Ukraine”

Ukraine Bans All Russian Planes from Using Its Airspace

On November 29, President Poroshenko announced that Russians living in Ukraine would soon face restrictions on bank withdrawals, changing foreign currency and travelling abroad.

The incident happened on November 25, when two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug were sailing from Odessa to the port of Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov – which is shared between Russia and Ukraine.

The ships were stopped from entering the Kerch Strait and confronted by FSB border guards. After a lengthy standoff, during which the Ukrainian tug was rammed, the vessels began turning back towards Odessa, the Ukrainian government says.

The Russians opened fire, wounding at least three sailors, and seized the Ukrainian flotilla.

The Kerch Strait separates Russia from Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014.

However, Ukraine says Russia is deliberately blockading Mariupol and another Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov, Berdyansk.

The 24 captured Ukrainian sailors have now been given two months in pre-trial detention by a court in Crimea.

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According to a government report, unchecked climate change will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and damage human health and quality of life.

The 4th National Climate Assessment says: “Future risks from climate change depend… on decisions made today.”

The NCA 2018 report says climate change is “presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth”.

The warning is at odds with the Trump administration’s fossil fuels agenda.

The world’s leading scientists agree that climate change is human-induced and warn that natural fluctuations in temperature are being exacerbated by human activity.

The report – compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments – outlines the prospective impacts of climate change across every sector of American society.

Image source Wikipedia

US Issues First Written Notification on Paris Climate Change Agreement Pullout

G20 Final Agreement Acknowledges Donald Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Climate Change Deal

Barack Obama: Paris Climate Deal Is World’s Best Chance

The assessment says: “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states.”

It also notes that the effects of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country, including more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events.

However, the report says that projections of future catastrophe could change if society works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “to adapt to the changes that will occur”.

Last month, President Donald Trump accused climate change scientists of having a “political agenda”, telling Fox News he was unconvinced that humans were responsible for the earth’s rising temperatures.

After taking office, President Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, which commits another 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.

At the time, President Trump said he wanted to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage US businesses and workers.

The CIA did not conclude that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump has revealed.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

However, officials told media such an operation would have needed the crown prince’s approval and Saudi Arabia maintains it was a “rogue operation”.

Asked about the CIA’s reported evaluation by reporters in Florida, President Trump said: “They didn’t conclude.”

The president’s comments on November 21 came as the Saudi crown prince began a regional tour of the Middle East, starting with the United Arab Emirates – his first official trip abroad since Jamal Khashoggi was killed.

Prince Mohammed is also expected to participate in a G20 meeting of world leaders in Buenos Aires at the end of the month that will be attended by leaders from the US, Turkey and a number of European countries.

Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead

Jamal Khashoggi Case: CIA Claims Saudi Crown Prince Approved Murder

Jamal Khashoggi Death: Saudi Arabia Identifies Journalist’s Killer

Jamal Khashoggi Case: Turkey Shared Murder Tapes With Key Foreign Nations

Meanwhile, France has announced that it is imposing sanctions on 18 Saudi nationals – the same individuals targeted with sanctions by the US, UK and Germany – allegedly linked to the Khashoggi murder.

Their list of individuals does not include Prince Mohammed, a spokesperson for the French ministry of foreign affairs said.

President Trump told reporters in Florida: “They have feelings certain ways. I have the report, they have not concluded, I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude the crown prince did it.”

He added: “But whether he did or whether he didn’t, he denies it vehemently. His father denies it, the king, vehemently.”

However, earlier this week, President Trump released a statement suggesting that Prince Mohammed “could very well” have known about the incident.

The president’s statement said: “[It] could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

He has repeatedly stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia to the US following the killing, calling Saudi Arabia a “steadfast partner” that has agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in the US.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that President Trump had confidence in the CIA following conversations with Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the Khashoggi murder.

Sources quoted in the US media at the time stressed that there was no single piece of evidence linking the crown prince directly to the murder, but officials believe the killing would have required his endorsement.

Separately, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Thursday that Director Haspel told Turkish officials last month that the CIA had a recording in which the crown prince gave instructions to “silence” Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible.

When asked about the claims by reporters, President Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about it. You’ll have to ask them.”

Saudi Arabia says claims that the crown prince may have ordered the Khashoggi killing are false and maintains that he knew nothing about it.

As a prominent journalist, Jamal Khashoggi covered major stories including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden for various Saudi news organizations.

For decades, Jamal Khashoggi was close to the Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government.

However, he fell out of favor and went into self-imposed exile in the US last year. From there, Jamal Khashoggi wrote a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he criticized the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In his first column for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi said he feared being arrested in an apparent crackdown on dissent overseen by the prince since.

In his last column, Jamal Khashoggi criticized Saudi involvement in the Yemen conflict.

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Photo Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has toured Camp Fire’s damage, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

Named after Camp Creek Road, its place of origin, the fire started on November 8, 2018, in Butte County, and killed at least 71 people.

More than 1,000 people are reported to be missing, although officials say that figure could fluctuate.

Speaking in the town of Paradise, President Trump described the scene as “sad to see” and revisited his disputed claim poor forest management was to blame.

He said: “We do have to do management maintenance and we’ll be working also with environmental groups, I think everyone’s seen the light.”

According to experts, the main causes of the wildfires are the weather, climate change and population shifts.

On top of the Camp Fire, firefighters are also tackling several other blazes, including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles which has claimed at least three lives.

Meanwhile, scores of people have become sick after outbreaks of the norovirus at shelters and the air quality in northern California has been rated the world’s worst.

Heavy rain is forecast next week that could douse the flames but also bring mudslides and floods on hillsides stripped of vegetation.

Arriving in California, President Trump was greeted by Governor Jerry Brown and his successor Gavin Newsom, both of whom are Democrats and have sparred with the president over the wildfires.

Governor Brown wrote on Twitter: “Now is a time to pull together for the people of California.”

In Paradise, President Trump praised the efforts of local law enforcement, politicians and the teams searching for survivors on the ground.

Some locals held up pro-Trump signs, although one called him a “moron”.

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Thomas Fire: California Governor Jerry Brown Brands Wildfires as New Normal

On November 16, the death toll rose to 71 after more bodies were found in Paradise, which has been all but destroyed by the fire.

Military troops are assisting forensics teams and cadaver dogs as they continue to search for human remains eight days on after the Camp Fire first broke out.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea put the number of people unaccounted for at 1,011, a sharp leap from the 631 reported just 24 hours earlier.

However, the sheriff described the list as “dynamic”,

He said: “The information I am providing you is raw data and we find there is the likely possibility that the list contains duplicate names.”

According to authorities, some of those on the list may be fine but unaware they have been reported missing, or unable to call.

The Camp Fire is now about 50% contained but fire officials say they may not have it fully under control until the end of the month.

Historically, California’s “wildfire season” started in summer and ran into early autumn – but experts have warned that the risk is now year-round.

 

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Commemorations took place around the world on November 11 to mark the centenary of the Armistice that ended WWI.

President Donald Trump and Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, were among those who attended a service beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

About 70 world leaders gathered in Paris on November 11 for remembrance events.

French President Emmanuel Macron led the main event of the centenary – a somber commemoration at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to France’s fallen under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Image source kremlin.ru

WWI centenary: World leaders and royals attend UK and Belgium events

Bosnia marks centenary of WWI spark in Sarajevo

Armenian genocide: Turkey offers condolences for WWI mass killings

President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a peace conference – the Paris Peace Forum – with leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On November 10, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel visited the town of Compiègne in northern France. They signed a book of remembrance in a railway carriage identical to the one in which the 1918 Armistice was sealed.

President Donald Trump caused controversy by canceling a trip to a cemetery for the war dead because of bad weather.

A group of around 50 activist organizations held a demonstration in Paris in protest against President Trump’s visit.


Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has hailed a “big victory” in midterm elections after Democrats seized the House of Representatives but Republicans consolidated their grip on the Senate.

The Democratic majority in the House will be in a position to block President Trump’s legislative program.

However, control of the Senate ensures President Trump can still make key appointments.

The vote was seen as a referendum on Donald Trump, even though the president is not up for re-election till 2020.

The result confirms a historical trend for the party that is not in the White House to make gains in the mid-terms.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi promised that her party would serve as a counterweight to the White House.

Nancy Pelosi – who is set to become speaker, a position she held from 2007 to 2011 – told supporters: “Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration.”

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Paul Ryan Will Not Run for Re-Election in 2018

Meanwhile the Florida Senate race is heading for a recount after Republican Rick Scott got 50.21% and incumbent Bill Nelson 49.79% of the vote. A margin of less than half a percentage point automatically triggers a recount.

The Democrats gained more than the 23 seats they needed for a majority in the 435-seat House of Representatives.

They could now launch investigations into President Trump’s administration and business affairs, from tax returns to potential conflicts of interest.

They could also more effectively block his legislative plans, notably his signature promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

In the Senate, Democrats were facing an uphill battle because they were defending 26 races, while just nine Republican seats were up for grabs.

The Republicans are on course to increase their representation from 51 to 54 in the 100-seat Senate upper chamber.

President Trump has threatened to retaliate for any Democratic investigations with his own probes in the Senate into alleged “leaks of classified information”.

He tweeted: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”


Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has urged voters to back the Republican Party on the eve of the midterm elections.

He said during a blitz of three final rallies: “Everything we have achieved is at stake tomorrow.”

The November 6 vote is being seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.

The president’s ability to govern in the final two years of his term will hinge upon the outcome.

Americans are going to the polls to vote on all 435 seats in the House, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and dozens of state governors.

With the control of Congress up for grabs, President Trump has ratcheted up rhetoric on divisive issues in a bid to energize his base.

Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama campaigned for the Democratic Party.

He tweeted: Tomorrow’s elections might be the most important of our lifetimes. The health care of millions is on the ballot. Making sure working families get a fair shake is on the ballot. The character of our country is on the ballot.”

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Paul Ryan Will Not Run for Re-Election in 2018

The midterm elections will decide which party will control the two houses of Congress.

If Republicans maintain their hold on the Senate and the House of Representatives, they could build on their agenda and that of President Trump.

If the Democrats wrest control of one or both chambers, they could stymie or even reverse President Trump’s plans.

Pollsters suggest Democrats may win the 23 seats they need to take over the House of Representatives, and possibly 15 or so extra seats.

However, the Democrats are expected to fall short of the two seats they need to win control of the Senate.

Governors are also being chosen in 36 out of 50 states.

After months of campaigning, speculation, and billions of dollars spent on adverts, leaflets and bumper stickers, voters will have their final say on November 6.

Democratic candidates for the House of Representative have raised $649 million from individual donors, more than doubling the $312 million tally for the Republicans.

Democrats are hoping to achieve a “midterm wave” – a sweeping victory that changes the shape of the political map in the US.

Many people have already voted.

The US Elections Project, a University of Florida-based information source, said that some 34.3 million people have cast early ballots but the real number is probably higher. In 2014, were just 27.5 million.

In Texas, early voting has exceeded the entire turnout in 2014.

Thunderstorms are forecast for November 6 along the eastern coast, as well as snowstorms in the Midwest, which could affect turnout.

The first polls close at 18:00 EST.

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President Donald Trump wants to reinstate all US sanctions on Iran removed under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The White House said it was “the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed” on Tehran. The sanctions target both Iran and states that trade with it.

However, temporary waivers will be granted to eight countries to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the move “disgraced” US prestige and liberal democracy.

He tweeted on November 3: “The challenge between the US and Iran has lasted for 40 years so far and the US has made various efforts against us: military, economic and media warfare.”

“This new US president has disgraced the remnant of America’s prestige,” he said, adding that “America today is far weaker”, suggesting that US military power was beginning to “wane and deteriorate”.

The sanctions will be reintroduce on Monday, November 5.

President Donald Trump Pulls US Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron Discuss New Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Meanwhile, EU states that backed the nuclear deal have said they will protect EU companies doing “legitimate” business with Iran.

President Trump withdrew from the agreement in May, describing it as “defective at its core” because it had not stopped Iran developing a ballistic missile program and intervening in neighboring countries.

The president tweeted after the announcement: “Sanctions are coming,” referencing the TV series Game of Thrones and its motto “Winter is coming”.

The US has been gradually re-imposing sanctions, but analysts say this move is the most important because it targets the core sectors of Iran’s economy.

The agreement saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The US sanctions will cover shipping, shipbuilding, finance and energy.

More than 700 individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft will be put on the sanctions list, including major banks, oil exporters and shipping companies.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said that the Brussels-based Swift network for making international payments was expected to cut off links with targeted Iranian institutions.

Being disconnected from Swift would almost completely isolate Iran from the international financial system.

They are the second lot of sanctions re-imposed by President Trump since May.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set out 12 demands that Iran must meet if sanctions are to be lifted – including ending support for militants and completely ballistic missile development.

Mike Pompeo did not name the eight countries that been granted waivers to continue importing Iranian oil.

The secretary said the eight had “demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and co-operation on many other fronts”. Two would eventually stop imports and the other six greatly reduce them, he added.

US allies such as Italy, India, Japan and South Korea are among the eight, the Associated Press reports. Turkey also obtained a waiver, Reuters says.

All have been have been top importers of Iranian oil.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told state TV that Iran had “the knowledge and the capability to manage the country’s economic affairs”.

Cesar Sayoc has been arrested in Florida in connection with a mail-bombing campaign aimed at critics of President Donald Trump.

The 56-year-old faces five charges including mailing explosives and threatening ex-presidents.

President Trump said the acts were “despicable and have no place in our country”.

Fourteen items have been sent in recent days to figures including former President Barack Obama, ex-Secretary Hillary Clinton, billionaire George Soros and Robert de Niro.

Two were found in Florida and NYC on October 26.

The incidents come less than two weeks before the mid-term elections, with politics highly polarized.

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George Soros: Explosive Device Found at Billionaire’s Bedford Residence

Media reports say Cesar Sayoc was arrested at a vehicle parts shop in the city of Plantation, Florida.

FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed that the suspect was detained after his fingerprint was allegedly found on one of the packages.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Cesar Sayoc faced up to 58 years in jail.

Law enforcement agencies said Cesar Sayoc lives in Aventura, Florida. He reportedly has ties to New York and is a registered Republican.

In 2002, the man was arrested for making a bomb threat in Miami-Dade County, and received one year of probation for the charge.

Cesar Sayoc has a criminal record dating back to 1991 in Broward County, according to clerk records. He was arrested, aged 29, on a theft charge. He has also faced charges of fraud and battery.

Court records show Cesarr Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012 while he was living with his mother. A handwritten note in his bankruptcy report reads: “Lives w/mom. Has no furniture.”

According to officials, DNA evidence was used to track him down.

Following his arrest, US TV broadcast live images of a white van, said to belong to Cesar Sayoc, being loaded on to a trailer in Plantation and towed away for examination.

The van’s windows were covered in images. One piece of artwork depicted President Trump standing on a tank and another showed Hillary Clinton with a bulls eye superimposed on her face.


Image source www.alaraby.co.uk

Speaking to reporters after a phone call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump has suggested “rogue killers” could be behind the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

He said the Saudi king had firmly denied knowing what had happened to Jamal Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flying to Saudi Arabia immediately.

Turkish police have, for the first time, been inside the Saudi consulate where Jamal Khashoggi was last seen.

They entered the building around an hour after a group of Saudi officials.

Turkish officials believe Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate by Saudi agents nearly two weeks ago but Riyadh has always strongly denied this.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed media reports suggest Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of an interrogation that went wrong and that the original intention had been to abduct him.

Arabic channel Al-Jazeera quotes Turkey’s attorney-general’s office as saying it has found evidence to back claims that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the mission.

Jamal Khashoggi: Secretary Mike Pompeo Meets King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh

Jamal Khashoggi Disappearance: Turkish Officials Have Evidence Proving Saudi Murder

Jamal Khashoggi: Missing Washington Post Journalist Killed at Saudi Consulate in Istanbul?

The issue has strained Saudi Arabia’s ties with its closest Western allies.

President Trump addressed snatched questions from reporters over helicopter engine noise at the White House, describing King Salman’s denial as “very, very strong”.

“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” he added.

“Who knows?”

President Trump provided no evidence to back his comment.

Last week, the president threatened Saudi Arabia with “severe punishment” if it emerged that Jamal Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but ruled out halting big military contracts with Riyadh.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be followed by a stop in Turkey.

Diplomatic pressure is growing on the Saudis to give a fuller explanation.

On October 15, King Salman ordered an investigation into the case.

“The king has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the information from the joint team in Istanbul,” a Saudi official quoted by Reuters said.

The official said the prosecutor had been instructed to work quickly.

Last week, Turkey accepted a Saudi proposal to form a joint working group to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Investigators entered the consulate in Istanbul on October 15 – first a Saudi team followed roughly an hour later by Turkish forensic police.

Turkish diplomatic sources had said the consulate would be searched by a joint Turkish-Saudi team.

A group of cleaners was seen entering earlier.

Saudi Arabia agreed last week to allow Turkish officials to conduct a search but insisted it would only be a superficial “visual” inspection.

Turkey rejected that offer. The Sabah daily newspaper said investigators had wanted to search the building with luminol, a chemical which shows up any traces of blood. It is not clear whether that happened.

King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on October 14, officials said, and stressed the importance of the two countries working together on the case.

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Image source Flickr

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have marked the 17th commemoration of the 9/11 attacks by visiting a memorial in Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump delivered a speech commemorating the airplane passengers who are thought to have charged the cockpit to stop the attackers.

Ceremonies are also being held at NYC’s 9/11 Memorial plaza on the World Trade Center site.

2,996 people were killed in the deadliest foreign attack ever on US soil.

President Trump said in Shanksville on September 11: “America’s future is not written by our enemies. America’s future is written by our heroes.

“As long as this monument stands, as long as this memorial endures, brave patriots will rise up in America’s hours of need and they, too, will fight back.”

He spoke at the newly inaugurated Tower of Voices memorial, a 93ft tall structure with 40 wind chimes.

On September 11, 2001, hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

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9/11: Secret Congressional Report to Clear Saudi Arabia of Any Responsibility

Another plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It is believed hijackers were planning to aim that aircraft at the Congress or White House in Washington DC before it went down, killing all 40 people aboard.

Cockpit voice recordings of the hijackers and mobile phone calls from those aboard to loved ones indicate passengers tried to fight their way into the cockpit to regain control before the plotters nosedived the plane.

President Trump praised the passengers’ “incredible valor” and said their revolt was “the moment America fought back”.

He said: “A band of brave patriots turned the tide on our nation’s enemies and joined the immortal rank of American heroes.”

Donald Trump is the third sitting president to attend the crash site, 70 miles south-east of Pittsburgh.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, was among those who noted this is the first year that Americans born after the attacks will be old enough to enlist in the US military.

During remarks at the Pentagon, VP Mike Pence told audience members they “must learn the lessons of 9/11 and remain ever vigilant”.

The ceremony in New York was attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as former mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani.

Relatives of victims read out the names of the dead, and moments of silence were observed at 08:46 and 09:03 to mark the times when passenger jets struck the two skyscrapers.

In the years since the attacks, cancer cases in lower Manhattan – especially among first responders who dug through the toxic rubble – have increased.

The 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund has paid out $4 billion to fund medical expenses for survivors of the terror attacks.

According to the World Trade Center Health Program, nearly 10,000 of them have had some form of cancer.

Tens of thousands of people inhaled fumes in the days after the attack, and the number of patients coming forward with tumors has increased in recent years, according to the fund.


Image source Twitter

Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos, whose remarks in a London pub sparked the inquiry into possible collusion with Russia, has been sentenced to 14 days in jail.

The 31-year-old told the court in Washington DC he was a “patriotic American” who made a mistake by lying.

Last year, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Moscow.

He was the first former Trump aide arrested in the probe into an alleged Russia plot to sway the 2016 US vote.

President Donald Trump reacted by taking an apparent swipe at the cost of the investigation into George Papadopoulos.

In September 7 sentencing, George Papadopoulos was also handed 12 months of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and a fine of $9,500.

Donald Trump’s former aide said in court that his “entire life has been turned upside down” and he hoped “for a second chance to redeem myself”.

George Papadopoulos concluded by saying “this investigation has global implications, and the truth matters”.

He was a London-based petroleum analyst before he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 as a volunteer foreign policy adviser.

George Papadopoulos soon made contact with a mysterious Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud.

Professor Mifsud told George Papadopoulos the Russians had “dirt” on Donald Trump’s Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.

In the following months, thousands of emails linked to the Clinton campaign were published by WikiLeaks.

Donald Trump Plays Down George Papadopoulos’ Role in His Campaign

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Paul Manafort: FBI Wiretapped Donald Trump’s Campaign Chairman

George Papadopoulos told Donald Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, and other members of the campaign’s national security team that he could set up a meeting with President Vladimir Putin ahead of the 2016 election.

A pre-sentencing statement last week read: “While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions, who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.”

George Papadopoulos told CNN in an interview aired on September 7 that Donald Trump “gave me a sort of a nod” and “wasn’t committed either way” about the idea of a meeting with the Russian leader.

However, he said then-senator and now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions “was actually enthusiastic”. Last November, Jeff Sessions testified to Congress that he had “pushed back” against George Papadopoulos’ offer.

American authorities were alerted in mid-2016 after George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat during a drinking session in a London pub about his meetings with Professor Mifsud.

The envoy told US investigators, shortly after the emails hacked from the Democratic Party were leaked.

When the FBI interviewed George Papadopoulos in January 2017, he falsely claimed he had met two individuals with Russian ties before he joined the president’s team in March 2016.

He had actually met them after joining Donald Trump’s campaign.

One individual was a Russian woman who George Papadopoulos believed had connections to the Russian government.

In July 2018, the DoJ charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials.

Prosecutors said George Papadopoulos’s lack of cooperation with investigators meant they were unable to effectively question or detain Joseph Mifsud. The professor has since left the United States.

No connection between Joseph Misfud and the hacked emails has been proven.

The DNC, which is suing Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over the alleged election interference in the 2016, filed a court document on September 7, saying Joseph Mifsud “was missing and may be deceased”, without any further explanation, according to Bloomberg News.

It referred to him as a key figure to have evaded the Mueller inquiry.

George Papadopoulos said: “I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption.”

He said he lied not to impede investigation but “to preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master”.

Judge Randolph Moss said he took the “genuine remorse” into consideration for the sentencing.

The only other person to be sentenced in the investigation – lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan – received 30 days in prison. His judge referred to his regret as “muted”.

Outside court on September, George Papadopoulos’ lawyer, Thomas Breen, said his client was a “fool” and had acted “stupidly” in lying to the FBI.

However, the attorney said “the president of the United States hindered this investigation more than Papadopoulos ever could”.

The lawyer said President Trump had hampered the inquiry by calling it a “witch hunt” and “fake news”.


Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming the body treats the US unfairly.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, President Trump said: “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO.”

The WTO was established to provide rules for global trade and resolve disputes between countries.

Donald Trump says the organization too often rules against the US, although he concedes it has won some recent judgments.

The president claimed on Fox News earlier this year that the WTO was set up “to benefit everybody but us”, adding: “We lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO.”

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US wins WTO ruling against China over luxury cars

However, some analysis shows the US wins about 90% when it is the complainant and loses about the same percentage when it is complained against.

President Trump’s warning about a possible US pull-out from the WTO highlights the conflict between his protectionist trade policies and the open trade system that the WTO oversees.

Washington has recently blocked the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s Geneva-based dispute settlement body, which could potentially paralyze its ability to issue judgments.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has also accused the WTO of interfering with US sovereignty.

It comes as President Trump set an August 31 deadline for Canada to sign a new agreement with the US and Mexico. He has threatened to tax Canada’s automotive sector or cut it out entirely.

Donald Trump has been sounding off about unfair trade since even before he became president.

On August 30, he said that the 1994 agreement to establish the WTO “was the single worst trade deal ever made”.

The US has been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade battle on several fronts in recent months.

The one creating the most interest is with China, as the world’s two largest economies wrangle for global influence.

President Trump has introduced tariffs on a number of goods imported into the US.

A third round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could come as soon as a public-comment period concludes next week, according to a Bloomberg report citing various sources.

Asked to confirm this during the Bloomberg interview, President Trump said that it was “not totally wrong”.

China has responded to US tariffs by imposing retaliatory taxes on the same value of US products and has filed complaints against the tariffs at the WTO.

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Image source Flickr

Donald Trump has warned that his policies will be “violently” overturned if the Democrats win November’s mid-term elections.

The president told Evangelical leaders that the vote was a “referendum” on freedom of speech and religion, and that these were threatened by “violent people”.

President Trump appealed to conservative Christian groups for help, saying they were one vote away from “losing everything”.

Mid-term elections are widely seen as a test of President Trump’s popularity.

The president has been battling negative publicity after his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chief Paul Manafort were convicted earlier this month.

Charlottesville Violence: Steve Bannon Attacks White Nationalists as “Clowns”

An audio recording of Donald Trump’s closed-door meeting with Evangelical leaders at the White House was leaked to US media.

During the meeting, President Trump said the mid-term elections were not just a referendum on him but also “on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment [guaranteeing basic freedoms]”.

He said: “It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa – these are violent people.”

Antifa – short for anti-fascist – is a conglomeration of left wing autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist militant groups in the United States. The far-left groups fight against far-right ideology and regularly clash with far-right demonstrators.

President Trump has previously criticized left-wing groups, infamously saying that there had been violence on “many sides” after a white nationalist killed a left-wing demonstrator at a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville last year.

Urging the Evangelical leaders to use their influence to swing voters, President Trump told them they had “tremendous power”.

He said: “In this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we’re talking about.”

“Little thing: Merry Christmas, right? You couldn’t say <<Merry Christmas>>,” he added, according to media reports.

President Trump himself is not up for re-election, but his ability to govern in the final two years of his term will hinge upon the November 6 outcome.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 out of 50 state governors, along with many state and local offices, are up for election.

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Photo AP

President Donald Trump asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call off a planned trip to North Korea.

The president tweeted that insufficient progress was being made in dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

President Trump also suggested China was not doing enough to put pressure on North Korea – due to trade tensions with the US.

After his summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June, Donald Trump said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat.

However, since then there have been several reports that it is failing to dismantle nuclear facilities.

The UN’s nuclear agency (IAEA) has also said North Korea is continuing with its nuclear program.

Mike Pompeo was due to head to Pyongyang next week with his newly appointed special envoy for North Korea – Stephen Biegun, a retiring Ford executive.

It would have been the secretary of state’s fourth trip, though he was not expected to meet Kim Jong-un.

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President Trump took a swipe at China in the second of three tweets on the issue.

He tweeted: “…Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)…”

China and the US are embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war after President Trump complained about the size of the US trade deficit with China and what Washington sees as other unfair trade practices.

However, only two days ago President Trump said China had been a “big help on North Korea”.

Mike Pompeo might still make another trip though.

President Trump tweeted: “…Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”

After the optimism of Singapore, the latest development might seem like quite a change.

However, there have been ups and downs in the Trump-North Korea relationship since then.

After a visit by Mike Pompeo in July, North Korea condemned his “gangster-like demands”, only for another trip to be announced, albeit now cancelled.

The summit itself was called off in May – President Trump citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility” – only for it to take place after all.

The US has made clear that it wants to see an end to North Korea’s nuclear activities before it will consider lifting economic sanctions.

The summit was seen as possible turning point after a ratcheting up of tensions.

North Korea had carried out a sixth nuclear bomb test in September and boasted of its ability to launch a missile at the US.

President Donald Trump has tweeted that it is “great” that many Harley-Davidson owners plan to boycott the company as a row over tariffs escalates.

Two months ago, Harley-Davidson said it would move some production out of the US to avoid retaliatory tariffs from the EU.

President Trump has already attacked the move, threatening Harley with higher taxes.

He tweeted: “Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.”

Harley-Davidson refused to comment on President Trump’s latest criticism, but pointed to an interview CEO Matthew Levatich did with CNBC last month.

Image source Wikipedia

President Trump Criticizes Harley-Davidson for Planning to Shift Production to Avoid EU Tariffs

In the interview, Matthew Levatich said the company’s preference “in all cases is to supply the world from the United States”.

He said, however, that Harley-Davidson had invested in international manufacturing over the past 20 years because “trade and tariff situations in certain markets” made it “prohibitive” without this investment.

Matthew Levatich said: “We’re only doing that because these are important growth markets for the company that, without those investments, we wouldn’t have access to those customers, at any kind of reasonable price.”

Harley-Davidson warned last month that its profit margins this year were likely to halve as trade tariffs bit.

The company expects added costs of $45 million-$50 million this year, due to the EU tariffs, as well as higher aluminum and steel prices.

It said in June it would shift some motorcycle production away from the US to avoid the “substantial” burden of EU tariffs.

It has assembly plants in Australia, Brazil, India and Thailand as well as in the US, but it has not said which plant would take up the extra production.

President Trump has said tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which came into force this spring, are necessary to protect the US steel and aluminum industries – he maintains these are vital for national security.

The tariffs have drawn retaliation from the EU, Canada, Mexico, India and others while driving up the cost of metals for manufacturers in the US.

The US has also threatened to hit billions of Chinese imports with import taxes, some of which are already in effect. It is also considering tariffs on foreign cars and vehicle parts.

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President Donald Trump has invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit the US, in a move that drew startled laughter from US intelligence chief Dan Coats.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said when he was told about the invitation during a live interview: “That’s gonna be special!”

President Trump’s presidency has been clouded by allegations that Russian hackers meddled in the 2016 US presidential election in his favor. However, the Kremlin denies the allegations.

At the Helsinki summit, President Putin offered access to 12 Russians indicted in absentia by the US authorities over the alleged interference, on condition the Russian authorities could question 12 Americans over a different case. President Trump first praised the suggestion as “incredible” but later rejected it.

Since his return from Finland, President Trump or the White House have had to correct or clarify other comments regarding Russia, creating confusion and prompting the Democrats to demand details of his private talks with President Putin.

Vladimir Putin, in power in Russia since 2000, last visited the US in 2015, when he met President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Image NBC News

President Trump Criticized after Summit with Vladimir Putin

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On July 19, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that discussions about a visit by Vladimir Putin to Washington DC this autumn were already under way.

Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said Russia had always been open to the idea of a visit but it was “up to the Kremlin to decide how many summits are needed, and when”.

The announcement appeared to come as a surprise to US intelligence chief Dan Coats, who was told about it during a live interview at the Aspen Security Forum in the state of Colorado.

Dan Coats added that he did not yet know what President Trump and President Putin had discussed during their meeting, at which only the pair and their interpreters were present.

At the post-summit news conference in Helsinki, President Putin was asked whether he would extradite 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted in the US for hacking Democratic Party computers.

No extradition treaty exists between the US and Russia, but Vladimir Putin said he would meet the US government “halfway”.

President Putin said that US investigators could question the 12 suspects inside Russia if, in turn, Russian investigators were allowed to question US citizens with regard to a case against financier Bill Browder.

Bill Browder was instrumental in the US imposing sanctions in 2012 on top Russian officials accused of corruption in the Magnitsky affair.

One of the Americans on Russia’s list is a former US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul.

The idea of allowing Russia to quiz US citizens sparked outrage and the Senate voted 98-0 against it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was “not going to happen”.

Michael McFaul tweeted his gratitude to the Senate: “98-0. Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you all for your support.”

At the news conference in Helsinki, President Trump said: “He [Vladimir Putin] offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigations with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.”

Now, however, President Trump says he “disagrees” with President Putin’s proposal.

He has also clarified remarks at the news conference in which he said he saw no reason for Russia to have meddled in the 2016 US election – despite US intelligence concluding just that.

Speaking to CBS News on July 18, President Trump said he held Vladimir Putin personally responsible for interfering in the election, and that he was “very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling”.

Vladimir Putin has also described the summit as “successful” but warned “there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russian-US relations”.

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President Donald Trump has been widely criticized in the US after defending Russia over claims of interference in the 2016 elections.

At a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, President Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies, saying Russia had no reason to meddle.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, said President Trump must see that “Russia is not our ally”.

The president’s own intelligence chief publicly broke with him.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement that Russia is responsible for “ongoing, pervasive attempts” to undermine US democracy.

Vladimir Putin denied the claim.

On July 16, the two leaders held nearly two hours of one-on-one talks without their advisers in Helsinki.

Image NBC News

Maria Butina: Russian Charged with Spying in US

Trump-Putin Summit: Donald Trump Defends Russia over Claims of Election Interference

At a news conference after the summit, President Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to allegations of meddling in the election.

He replied: “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

President Trump also blamed poor relations with Russia on past US administrations rather than Russian actions.

US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorized campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.

President Trump later backtracked, tweeting that he had “great confidence in my intelligence people”.

He tweeted: “As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018

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President Donald Trump has asked NATO allies to agree to double the current target of their annual GDP to military spending and to commit to 4%.

The White House confirmed President Trump had made the remarks during the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.

The meeting also saw Donald Trump single out Germany for criticism over its defense spending.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the main focus should be on all members reaching the current target of 2% of GDP.

He declined to answer a specific question about President Trump’s remarks, but told reporters: “I think we should first get to 2%, focus on that now… the good thing is that we are moving to that.”

For decades after the end of the Cold War, he said, NATO countries had cut defense budgets as tensions fell – and now needed to increase them at a time when tensions were rising.

Image source Reuters

Donald Trump: “All NATO Allies Must Pay Their Fair Share of Defense Spending”

Donald Trump on Angela Merkel, Brexit and NATO

Previous US presidents have urged Europe to take more responsibility for their defense and reduce the burden on US taxpayers of maintaining forces in Europe long after the end of the Cold War – but none as bluntly as President Trump.

Confirming President Trump’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

The NATO summit in Brussels comes less than a week before President Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among US allies over his proximity to the Russian president.

President Trump’s main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defense budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defense by 2024.

Of NATO’s 29 members, just six meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the UK, Romania and Poland.

At a news conference after the first meetings of leaders at the summit, Jens Stoltenberg insisted that more united NATO than divided it.

“We have had discussions, we do have disagreements, but most importantly we have decisions that are pushing this alliance forward and making us stronger.

“In the history of NATO we have had many disagreements and we have been able to overcome them again and again, because at the end of the day we all agree that North America and Europe are safer together.”

All 29 NATO members released a declaration which reaffirmed a commitment to increase military spending.

The communiqué also condemned “Russian aggression”, including the annexation of Crimea, the use of a nerve agent in southern England and “election interference”.