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Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan has resigned after six months in the post.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said Kevin McAleenan wanted to spend more time with his family. He said his replacement would be named next week.

Kevin McAleenan, 48, is the fourth person to serve as the head of Homeland Security during President Trump’s tenure.

He has overseen Donald Trump’s tough policies aimed at curbing immigration across the Mexican border.

However, analysts have described a turbulent relationship between the two and Kevin McAleenan has criticized the tone of the immigration debate.

Recently he was shouted off stage by student protesters at a university in Washington DC.

Announcing his resignation, President Trump said Kevin McAleenan had done “an outstanding job”.

“We have worked well together with border crossings being way down,” the president said.

“Kevin now, after many years in government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.”

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Kevin McAleenan became acting head of the department after the resignation in April of Kirstjen Nielsen.

President Trump had often accused her of not being tough enough on controlling immigration.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, Kevin McAleenan served as deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

In 2015, Kevin McAleenan received the highest civil service award from the then-president.

In 2018, he faced criticism in the media for carrying out President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy that led to the controversial separation of families at the US southern border, but he has maintained his agency’s duty is to carry out the law, not create it.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post described Kevin McAleenan as increasingly isolated within the Trump administration and overshadowed by others more vocal in their support for President Trump.

In an interview, Kevin McAleenan lamented not having control over “the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time. That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure”.

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President Donald Trump has branded a whistleblower allegation that he made a promise to a foreign leader – believed to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – as a “ridiculous story”.

Donald Trump said his talks with leaders were always “totally appropriate”.

According to reports, President Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter – who was on a Ukrainian gas company board – in return for more US military support.

Joe Biden is frontrunner to be the Democrat’s 2020 presidential candidate.

He wrote in a statement: “If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country.”

Joe Biden called on President Trump to “immediately release” a transcript of the phone call “so that the American people can judge for themselves”.

In its report on the complaint by the whistleblower, the Washington Post said the intelligence official had found President Trump’s comment to the foreign leader “so troubling” that they went to the department’s inspector general.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, quoted sources as saying President Trump had urged President Zelensky about eight times to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, but had not offered anything in return.

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Joe Biden Criticizes Donald Trump’s Attacks on Intelligence Community

On September 20, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that reports of the complaint raised “grave, urgent concerns” for US national security.

Presidents Trump and Zelensky spoke by phone on July 25. The whistleblower’s complaint is dated August 21.

Donald Trump described the complaint as “just another political hack job”.

Speaking alongside Australia’s leader Scott Morrison in the White House, the president said: “It’s a ridiculous story. It’s a partisan whistleblower. He shouldn’t even have information. I’ve had conversations with many leaders. They’re always appropriate.”

President Trump also called for Joe Biden’s finances to be scrutinized.

He told reporters: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed, someone ought to look into Joe Biden’s billions of dollars and you wouldn’t look into that because he’s a Democrat.”

On September 19, President Trump wrote on Twitter that he knew all his phone calls to foreign leaders were listened to by US agencies.

Ukraine says President Trump and President Zelensky will meet next week in New York during the UN General Assembly.

Democrats are trying to get the complaint turned over to Congress, with many details still unknown.

Earlier this month, before the whistleblower’s complaint came to light, House Democrats launched an investigation into President Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s interactions with Ukraine.

Three Democratic panel heads – Eliot Engel (foreign affairs), Adam Schiff (intelligence) and Elijah Cummings (oversight) – said Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani had attempted “to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the president’s re-election campaign and target a possible political opponent”.

They allege that President Trump and Rudy Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a surprise visit to the G7 summit in France on August 25.

He attended side-line talks in the seaside town of Biarritz where world leaders, including President Donald Trump, have gathered.

Reports suggest the US delegation was surprised by Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit, which comes at a time of high tension with Iran.

The Iranian official said on Twitter that he held “constructive” talks with his French counterpart and President Emmanuel Macron, adding he gave a joint briefing to German and British officials.

Mohammad Javad Zarif also met President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on August 23 on the eve of the summit.

Relations between Iran and the US have deteriorated since Washington withdrew from a 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in 2018.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump Pulls US Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

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

Five other nations – including France – remain committed to the deal, but Iran has started to ratchet up its nuclear activity in response to the US reinstating and tightening economic sanctions against them.

President Macron has taken an active role in trying to diffuse tensions and save the accord – but Iran’s relations with the West have strained further in recent months over a series of confrontations and oil tanker seizures in and around the Gulf.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was himself singled out for US sanctions last month, with US officials accusing him of implementing “the reckless agenda” of Iran’s leader.

Reports about the circumstances of his visit on Sunday are conflicting. French officials told reporters the foreign minister was invited in agreement with the US delegation, but White House officials have suggested they were taken by surprise.

They were also conflicting comments by President Macron and President Trump during the weekend as to whether G7 leaders had agreed a joint approach to easing tensions with Tehran.

On August 25, President Trump appeared to dismiss French mediation efforts.

He said: “We’ll do our own outreach, but, you know, I can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk.”

Leaders from the G7 – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – have been attending the group’s 45th summit all weekend.

A range of topics, including the nuclear deal and Brexit, have been on the talks agenda.

President Donald Trump has accused Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party of “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”.

The remark drew sharp criticism that President Trump had used an anti-Semitic trope accusing Jews of dual loyalty.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the president was trying to “weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism” for political gain.

The remark followed attacks by President Trump on two Muslim Democratic congresswomen.

He has repeatedly accused Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib of anti-Semitism.

Under pressure from President Trump, Israel last week blocked Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country. The two women, who are vocal critics of the Israeli government, had been due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel later agreed to let Rashida Tlaib make a “humanitarian” visit to her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, but she declined, saying she could not comply with the “oppressive conditions” being imposed.

Speaking to reporters on August 20, President Trump said: “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

President Donald Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

On August 21, the president denied his comments were racist and told reporters: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

Earlier in the day, President Trump quoted a conservative commentator’s praise on Twitter who said “the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel”.

“They love him like he is the second coming of God,” President Trump’s tweet continued.

The remark was denounced by a number of Jewish American groups, which said it played on an anti-Semitic canard that accuses Jews of being more devoted to Israel or their faith than to their own countries.

The same notion of dual loyalty has landed Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota congresswoman, in hot water.

Ilhan Omar has apologized after claiming that Israel had “hypnotized” the world. She was also rebuked by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives comments targeting lobbying firms that support Israel.

Ahead of the vote, which condemned “hateful expressions of intolerance”, Ilhan Omar pushed back by questioning what she termed “the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country”.

The comment sparked fresh complaints of anti-Semitism.

Recent polls show that roughly 75% of Jewish Americans identify as Democrats.

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Two short-range ballistic missiles have been fired off North Korea’s east coast, according to South Korea’s military, the second such launch in a week.

They were launched from the Wonsan area on July 31.

Last week’s launch was the first such action since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in June.

North Korea called last week’s launch a “solemn warning” to Seoul over its planned military exercises with Washington.

Pyongyang has previously expressed anger that the annual drills will go ahead next month- an event it sees as preparation for war.

The missiles were launched at 05:06AM and 05:27 AM local time from the Kalma area near the port of Wonsan.

The missiles flew 155 miles and reached a height of 20 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The South Korean defense minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the missiles were identified as a different type from previous models.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe confirmed that there was no impact on Japan’s security following the launch.

North Korea Tests Two New Missiles as Warning to South Korea’s Military

Donald Trump Becomes First US Sitting President to Cross into North Korea After Symbolic Meeting with Kim Jong-un at DMZ

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

Six days ago, North Korea fired two short range missiles, one of which travelled about 425 miles and the other 268 miles.

That launch was the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held an impromptu meeting in June at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, where they agreed to restarted denuclearization talks.

North Korea has recently again voiced anger over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event which the allies have refused to cancel but have scaled back significantly.

One analyst said more missile tests could be expected.

North Korea called the drills a “violation of the spirit” of the joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their first face-to-face talks in Singapore last year.

Pyongyang had warned the exercises could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

On July 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped these talks could start “very soon”, but that there were no further summits planned.

Last year, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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President Donald Trump threatened a Time magazine photographer with prison for apparently taking a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The president rebuked the photographer in the Oval Office after he was warned by an aide not to take a photo, according to Time‘s transcript.

The interview continued, but grew heated after the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump came up.

“You can go to prison instead,” Donald Trump is quoted as saying.

The interview took place at the White House on June 17, two days before President Trump traveled to Florida to formally launch his 2020 re-election campaign.

At several points during the interview, President Trump asked to speak off-the-record, including in the moments after showing the Time reporters a letter he said was from Kim Jong-un.

“Here’s a letter, OK, now I’m going to show you this letter,” said the president.

“So this was written by Kim Jong-un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.”

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As the conversation turned to his potential Democratic challengers in next year’s election, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the journalists: “You can’t take a picture of that, sorry.”

“What was that?!” President Trump exclaims.

The interview continues as the reporters ask about who President Trump sees as his toughest political opponent for 2020.

“Uh, I don’t know. Look, I think I’ve done so much. Could you bring the list of things, please, give me four of them,” President Trump tells an aide, who quickly presents one, saying it was made “for today”.

According to the transcript, Donald Trump becomes more prickly when Time challenges an assertion by him.

The reporter reminds the president that some of his aides had “testified under oath, under threat of prison time” that the president had tried to influence the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

President Trump snaps back: “Excuse me… Well, you can go to prison instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially.

“I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it – So don’t play that game with me.”

The journalist from Time responds: “I’m sorry, Mr. President. Were you threatening me with prison time?”

Donald Trump replies: “Well, I told you the following. I told you, you can look at this off the record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. OK?

“So I hope you don’t have a picture of it.

“I know you were very quick to pull it out – even you were surprised to see that.

“You can’t do that stuff. So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in Time magazine.”

Donald Trump has long had an interest in Time magazine, and has previously had fake issues printed with himself on the cover and framed at his golf resorts.

He was named person of the year in 2016.

In 2017, he claimed to have turned down an offer to be the magazine’s person of the year again, which Time‘s editorial staff said was untrue.

However, in 2018, Time‘s annual person of the year award was dedicated to persecuted journalists.

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China stocks tumbled on May 6 after President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on Chinese goods, putting a trade deal in doubt.

President Trump announced on Twitter that the US would more than double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on May 3 and would introduce fresh tariffs.

Recent comments had suggested both sides were nearing a trade deal.

A Chinese delegation was due to travel to Washington this week for talks aimed at ending the trade war.

However, according to recent reports, China is now considering cancelling those talks, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, that were scheduled to resume on May 8.

Some reports said the Chinese were due to send a 100-person delegation to the negotiations.

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

The Chinese government has yet to officially comment on President Trump’s tweets.

In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 3.7%, while the Shanghai Composite plunged 5.3%.

US stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street.

On May 3, President Trump tweeted: “For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday. 325 Billions Dollars….”

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” he continued.

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a trade deal.

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described talks held in Beijing as “productive”.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, having accused China of unfair trade practices.

Beijing hit back with duties on $110 billion of American goods, blaming the US for starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.

President Trump’s latest move will raise duties on more than 5,000 products made by Chinese producers, ranging from chemicals to textiles and consumer goods.

He originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

However, both US and international companies have said they are being harmed by the trade war.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.

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According to recent reports, North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or a satellite.

Satellite images suggest an increased activity around a site known as Sanumdong, where North Korea assembled most of its ballistic missiles and rockets.

It comes after reports earlier this week that North Korea’s main rocket launch site at Sohae had been rebuilt.

Last year, North Korea started to dismantle Sohae began but stopped as US talks stalled.

On March 8, President Donald Trump said he would be disappointed if North Korea was to resume weapons testing.

He said: “I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens.

“I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”

According to analysts, it is more likely at this stage that North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite rather than test a missile.

However, the US said earlier this week that this would still be inconsistent with the commitments Kim Jong-un has made to President Trump.

Large vehicles have been seen moving around Sanumdong, activity which has in the past indicated that Pyongyang was at least preparing to move some kind of missile or rocket to a launch area.

The satellite images were published by the public radio network NPR.

A much anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi last week ended without a deal over differences in how much North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program before it was granted some sanction relief.

The Sohae launch facility at the Tongchang-ri site has been used for satellite launches and engine testing but never for ballistic missile launches.

This week’s satellite images, coming from several US think tanks and testimony from the South Korean intelligence service, appear to show rapid progress has been made in rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said North Korea could yet face more sanctions if there is no progress on denuclearization.

A historic first meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 in Singapore produced a vaguely worded agreement on “denuclearization” but little progress.

Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement in principle over border security to fund the government and avoid another partial shutdown.

The deal was struck in a closed-door meeting in Washington on February 11 after several hours of talks.

However, the agreement contains only a fraction of the money President Donald Trump wants for his promised border wall and does not mention a concrete barrier.

The deal still needs to be approved by Congress and signed by the president.

Speaking on February 12, President Trump said of the deal: “I can’t say I’m happy, I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

The president told reporters he would have a meeting about the agreement later today.

The Democrats – who now control the House of Representatives – have refused to approve the $5.7 billion for President Trump’s wall on the border with Mexico, one of his key campaign pledges.

Lawmakers expressed optimism that a bill would be approved by February 15 when funding runs out for some federal agencies.

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The longest shutdown in US history lasted 35 days and cost the country’s economy an estimated $11 billion.

Details have yet to be released but aides familiar with the negotiations say it includes $1.375 billion in funding for 55 miles of new fencing at the border, a small part of the more than 2,000 miles promised by President Trump.

The wall would be built in the Rio Grande Valley, in Texas, using existing designs, such as metal slats, instead of the concrete wall that Donald Trump had demanded.

According to recent reports, there was also an agreement to reduce the number of beds in detention centers to 40,250 from the current 49,057.

The talks had reached an impasse earlier with Republicans strongly rejecting Democrats’ demands for a limit to the number of undocumented migrants already in the US who could be detained by immigration authorities.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby said on February 11: “We got an agreement on all of it.

“Our staffs are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together. We believe that if this becomes law, it’ll keep open the government.”

However, by yesterday, some of President Trump’s conservative allies had already denounced the deal, with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity calling it a “garbage compromise”.

House Freedom Caucus leader Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina said the agreement failed “to address the critical priorities outlined by Border Patrol Chiefs”.

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President Donald Trump has refused to respond to a request from Congress to provide a report determining who killed the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In October 2018, senators wrote a letter demanding the murder be investigated and that the White House give more information.

A Trump administration official said the president was within his rights to decline to act.

Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.

The journalist was a strong critic of the Saudi government. His body was reportedly dismembered and has still not been found.

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Jamal Khashoggi Death: CIA Did Not Conclude Saudi Crown Prince Ordered Murder, Says President Trump

Jamal Khashoggi Death: Saudi Arabia Identifies Journalist’s Killer

US intelligence officials have reportedly said such an operation would have needed the approval of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, Saudi officials insist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by a “rogue” team of Saudi agents not acting on the prince’s orders.

An administration statement said President Trump “maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate”.

However, Democratic senators told the New York Times President Trump was in breach of the so-called Magnitsky Act, which requires a response within 120 days to requests from Senate committee leaders. That deadline passed on February 8.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has written to Senate leaders describing actions taken against individuals.

However, the documents do not indicate who was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death, as demanded by the senators.

The US has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials, including Saud al-Qahtani, a former adviser to the crown prince who, it alleged, was “part of the planning and execution of the operation” that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

However, President Trump has faced criticism from senators for failing to condemn the Saudi crown prince directly.

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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit at the al-Asad airbase in Iraq.

The first family traveled there “late on Christmas night” to thank troops for “their service, their success and their sacrifice”, the White House said.

President Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq, Reuters reports.

The trip came days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit over divisions about strategy in the region.

The US still has some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the ISIS.

President Trump, the First Lady and National Security Adviser John Bolton traveled on Air Force One to al-Asad airbase, west of the capital Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant.

The president spent about three hours at the base in what is his first visit to the region.

During the visit President Trump got a standing ovation from troops as he entered a dining hall and walked around greeting them, posing for selfies with them and signing autographs.

He tweeted: “.@FLOTUS Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!”

The president had planned to spend Christmas at his private golf club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington because of the current partial government shutdown.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” he told American servicemen and women at the base.

“We’re respected again as a nation.”

President Trump said the US could use Iraq as a forward base if “we wanted to do something in Syria”, Reuters news agency reports.

He defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria during the visit, saying: “A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking.

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“I made it clear from the beginning that our mission in Syria was to strip Isis [another name for IS] of its military strongholds.

“Eight years ago, we went there for three months and we never left. Now, we’re doing it right and we’re going to finish it off.”

President Trump said there would be no delays in the withdrawal and added that the US “cannot continue to be the policeman of the world”.

He also said that security considerations had prevented him from visiting US troops in the region several weeks ago.

President Trump announced the decision to pull US troops out of Syria last week.

A newly discovered amphibian that buries its head in the sand has been named after President Donald Trump, apparently in response to his comments about climate change.

The Dermophis donaldtrumpi, which was discovered in Panama, was named by the head of a company that had bid $25,000 at auction for the privilege.

EnviroBuild said it wanted to raise awareness about climate change.

The company’s co-founder Aidan Bell in a statement: “[Dermophis donaldtrumpi] is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and is therefore in danger of becoming extinct as adirect result of its namesake’s climate policies.”

The small, blind, amphibian is a type of caecilian that primarily lives underground, and Aidan Bell drew an unflattering comparison between its behavior and President Trump’s.

He wrote: “Burrowing [his] head underground helps Donald Trump when avoiding scientific consensus on anthropomorphic climate change.”

The amphibian is not the first creature to be named after Donald Trump.

Neopalpa Donaldtrumpi: California Moth Becomes First Creature Named after Donald Trump

In 2017, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, was discovered by biologist Vazrick Nazari in a collection of moths from the Museum of Entomology, at the University of California. Vazrick Nazari said the moth’s unique head coloring reminded him of President Trump.

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.

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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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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

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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

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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

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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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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

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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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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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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.