Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have withdrawn support for Donald Trump after his inappropriate remarks about women became public.
At least a dozen Republicans have said they will not be voting for the New York billionaire, since the comments emerged on October 7.
Donald Trump says he will never drop out of the race to be president and will never let his supporters down.
He has been under pressure after a tape from 2005 of him bragging about groping and kissing women was broadcast.
John McCain said Donald Trump’s comments “make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy”, while Condoleeza Rice said: “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”
Image source U.S. Marine Corps
Another senior Republican, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said in a statement: “I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”
Kelly Ayotte – who faces a competitive race for re-election – said she would not vote for Hillary Clinton but instead would “write in” Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, on her ballot paper.
Several other Republicans also said they would vote for Mike Pence.
Donald Trump himself stressed that there was “zero chance I’ll quit”, adding that he was getting “unbelievable” support.
In a tweet, the Republican candidate said: “The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly.”
Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, issued a statement on October 8 saying: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me.”
Melania Trump said her husband had “the heart and mind of a leader”.
Mike Pence said he was “offended” by Donald Trump’s video, but grateful he had expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.
“We pray for his family,” he said in a statement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan had originally invited Donald Trump to attend a campaign event in Wisconsin this weekend but rescinded his invitation, saying he was “sickened” by what he had heard. Mike Pence was due to go in his running mate’s place, but declined to attend.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump’s comments in the tape “horrific”.
In the recorded comments, which date back to 2005 when Donald Trump was appearing as a guest on a soap, he says “you can do anything” to women “when you’re a star”.
Donald Trump released a video statement apologizing for the comments.
His 2005 comments, posted by the Washington Post, overshadowed the release of transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to private events, by the WikiLeaks.
Donald Trump had married his third wife Melania a few months before the recording. She said on October 8: “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
The second TV debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will take place on Sunday evening, October 9, in St Louis.
Donald Trump recently said he would not bring up stories about Bill Clinton’s infidelities in the debate, after previously threatening to do so.
However, in his video apology, he attacked the former president directly: “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked and shamed his victims.”
Hungary has summoned US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend after Senator John McCain described PM Viktor Orban as a “neo-fascist dictator”.
The Hungarian government rejected the remarks, which it said were totally unacceptable.
Republican John McCain was speaking in the Senate on December 2 before a vote on the appointment of former TV soap opera producer Colleen Bell as ambassador to Hungary.
Colleen Bell was “totally unqualified” for such a role, he said.
John McCain had been unimpressed with Colleen Bell this year when he questioned her during her confirmation hearing about what she planned to do differently from her predecessor as ambassador to Budapest.
The former The Bold and The Beautiful producer was widely seen as giving a faltering performance.
Colleen Bell, John McCain said, was a political appointee who had contributed $800,000 to President Barack Obama’s last election campaign.
However, it was his next comments that most riled the Hungarian government and prompted Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to summon US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend.
“I am not against political appointees,” John McCain said.
“I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation [Hungary] on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, and we’re going to send the producer of The Bold and The Beautiful as our ambassador.”
Viktor Orban has in recent months adopted closer relations with Russia, opposing EU and US sanctions imposed on key officials in Moscow because of the conflict in Ukraine. He has also advocated turning Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”.
The foreign ministry state secretary in Budapest said Hungary rejected John McCain’s remarks, both about Viktor Orban and relations with the government in Moscow.
Peter Szijjarto added that voters had three times backed the ruling Fidesz party’s vision of “how they imagine the future of the country”.
Republicans and Democrats have clashed over the deal to swap five Guantanamo Bay detainees for a Taliban-held soldier, with Republicans warning it could put American lives at risk.
Senator John McCain said the detainees, who were transferred to Qatar, were some of the “highest high-risk people”.
Afghanistan also attacked the deal, saying handing prisoners to a third country was against international law.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed to US forces in Afghanistan on Saturday.
In an emotional address on Sunday, his father, Robert Bergdahl, said he was proud how far his son was willing to go to help the Afghan people, but warned that his recovery would take a long time.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan
Robert Bergdahl said he and his wife had not yet spoken to their son, who is in a good condition and currently undergoing medical care at a US military hospital in Germany.
Several Republicans have spoken out against the deal, warning that it set a worrying precedent and amounted to negotiating with terrorists.
John McCain said the Taliban released were “possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands” and may have “the ability to re-enter the fight”, in comments to CBS TV.
Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, told CNN that Washington had “now set a price” for al-Qaeda ransom threats.
Chuck Hagel: “No shots were fired – it went as well as it could have.”
Republican representative Adam Kinzinger said he would celebrate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s return but called the release of the Taliban men “shocking”.
Questions were raised over the legality of the deal, after the Obama administration did not give Congress sufficient notice about the transfer of the Taliban detainees.
However, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is currently in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations of wrongdoing, saying the military had to act quickly “to essentially save his life”.
“We didn’t negotiate with terrorists… As I said and explained before, Sergeant Bergdahl was a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back,” he told NBC TV.
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s failing health had created an “acute urgency” to act and therefore made it “necessary and appropriate” not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement.
The Afghan government, which was not informed of the deal until after the exchange had taken place, condemned it as a “breach of international law” and urged the US and Qatar to “let the men go free”.
The five detainees are thought to be the most senior Afghans held at the US detention facility in Cuba, having been captured during America’s military campaign in 2001.
In a rare public statement on Sunday, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar described the exchange as a “big victory”.
President Barack Obama said that he had received security guarantees from Qatar – which mediated the deal – “that it will put in place measures to protect our national security”.
They have been banned from leaving Qatar for at least a year.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was the only US soldier being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was serving with an infantry regiment in Paktika province, near the Pakistani border, when he went missing on June 30 2009.
US President Barack Obama has defended the use of drones in a “just war” of self-defense against deadly militants and a campaign that had made America safer.
In a wide-ranging speech on a programme shrouded in secrecy, Barack Obama said there must be “near certainty” that no civilians would die in such strikes.
In a renewed push to shut Guantanamo Bay, the president said he had lifted a moratorium on prisoner transfers to Yemen.
Barack Obama also defended the use of drones to kill four US citizens.
“We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first,” he said in Thursday’s address at the National Defense University in Washington DC.
“So this is a just war – a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.”
He added: “And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion. To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”
Declaring America at a “crossroads” in its efforts to combat militancy, Barack Obama also said his administration would be willing to accept increased oversight of drone strikes outside war zones like Afghanistan.
Human rights groups have long condemned the use of unmanned drones to carry out killings.
Barack Obama warned that a “perpetual” US war on terror, whether through drone strikes, special forces operations or troop deployments, would be “self-defeating”.
In a Republican rebuttal later, Senator John McCain argued the US remained at war with al-Qaeda.
“Al-Qaeda will be with us for a long time,” John McCain said.
Barack Obama has defended the use of drones in a “just war” of self-defense against deadly militants and a campaign that had made America safer
As the president addressed efforts to close the detention centre at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he was interrupted by a protester shouting about the current hunger strike at the prison.
“I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about,” he said.
Barack Obama told his audience: “Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”
The Democratic president made shutting the prison a top priority at the beginning of his first term, but his effort foundered amid strong bipartisan opposition in Congress.
Calling on Congress not to block his efforts to transfer the facility’s inmates to American high-security jails, he added: “No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States.”
Barack Obama said he was appointing envoys from the defense and state departments to negotiate transfers of detainees to other countries, and said he would lift a moratorium on transfers to Yemen.
After the speech, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss told reporters Barack Obama was wrong to lift the Yemen moratorium because Yemeni authorities could not be trusted to “handle them”.
“We’ve got 166 of the meanest nastiest killers in the world located at Guantanamo Bay today,” he said.
“If we were to transfer them to Yemen, it would be just like turning them loose. We should try those individuals at Guantanamo in the courtrooms and then make a decision about what to do with them.”
Meanwhile, Yemen welcomed the move, a spokesman at the country’s Washington embassy said.
Barack Obama’s speech coincides with the signing of new “presidential policy guidance” on when drone strikes can be used, the White House said.
The policy document curtails the circumstances in which drones can be used in places that are not overt war zones, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
In an outline of the new policy released to the news media, the administration said it preferred to capture terrorist suspects, with drone strikes used only amid a “continuing, imminent threat” to the US.
Beyond that, the administration listed criteria for the approval of a drone strike:
“Near certainty” the target was present and that civilians would not be injured or killed
Capture would not be feasible
Authorities of the country in question could not or would not address the threat
No other reasonable alternatives were available
On Wednesday, the US disclosed that four Americans had been killed in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan since 2011, marking the first formal public acknowledgement of the US citizen deaths in drone strikes.
In a letter to the Senate judiciary committee, US Attorney General Eric Holder defended the targeted killing in 2011 of Anwar al-Awlaki, whom he described as a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in the US state of New Mexico, was killed in a missile strike from an unmanned plane in Yemen in September 2011 along with Samir Khan, a naturalized US citizen who produced an online al-Qaeda magazine.
Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, born in Colorado, was killed in Yemen a month later.
Eric Holder also confirmed Jude Kenan Mohammad, a North Carolina resident, had been killed in a drone strike. He is thought to have died in a strike in November 2011 in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region.
Eric Holder said only Awlaki had been “specifically targeted and killed”, and that the other men “were not specifically targeted by the United States”.
Anderson Cooper admitted on Friday that CNN had come across the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ personal journal and used parts of it in its reporting without disclosing the source.
On Wednesday on his show Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host told Senator John McCain that “a source familiar with Ambassador Stevens’ thinking told us that in the months before his death he talked about being worried about the never-ending security threats that he was facing in Benghazi, and specifically about the rise in Islamist extremism and growing al Qaeda presence”.
Anderson Cooper added that “the source also mentioned [Stevens] being on an al Qaeda hit list”.
Two days later, Anderson Cooper acknowledged that CNN had obtained Christopher Stevens’ journal, and that some of the information regarding the late ambassador’s thought process in the months leading to the deadly September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was drawn from his entries.
Anderson Cooper admitted that CNN had come across the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens' personal journal and used parts of it in its reporting without disclosing the source
“On Wednesday of this week, we reported that a source familiar with Ambassador Stevens’ thinking said in the months before his death, Ambassador Stevens talked about being worried about what he called the never-ending security threats in Benghazi,” Anderson Cooper told his viewers Friday night.
“We also reported that the ambassador specifically mentioned the rise in Islamic extremism, the growing al Qaeda presence in Libya and said he was on an al Qaeda hit list.
“The information for that report, like all of CNN’s reporting, was carefully vetted. Some of that information was found in a personal journal of Ambassador Stevens in his handwriting.
“We came upon the journal through our reporting and notified the family. At their request, we returned that journal to them. We reported what we found newsworthy in the ambassador’s writings. A reporter followed up on what we found newsworthy, as I said, in the ambassador’s writings,” Anderson Cooper concluded.
Shortly after 1: 00 a.m. on Saturday, CNN published a story without a by-line on its website explaining how the journal came into its possession, and how the information it contains was used in the network’s reporting.
According to the article, CNN found Christopher Stevens’ journal four days after the ambassador was killed by Libyans protesting an anti-Muslim film produced by an American filmmaker.