Trump reportedly considering a wide-ranging shakeup among White House

U.S. President Donald Trump is weighing an administration-wide shakeup as he looks to prepare his White House for divided government, but it is unclear who is going and who is staying.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was thought to be out as soon as this week, according to two people with knowledge of the issue, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor in place.

Trump has soured on Nielsen and White House chief of staff John Kelly, in part over frustration that his administration is not doing more to address what he has called a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the people. But the scope of the contemplated changes is far broader, as Trump gears up for a wave of Democratic oversight requests and to devote more effort to his own re-election campaign.

According to people familiar with the situation, Trump is also discussing replacing Kelly with Vice-President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers. Kelly, a retired Marine general, has been credited with bringing order and process to a chaotic West Wing, but he has fallen out of favour with the president as well as presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Ayers, a seasoned campaign operative, would restore a political-mindset to the role, but he faces stiff opposition from some corners of the West Wing, with some aides lobbying Trump directly against the move.

Other changes are afoot, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are being discussed for replacement. And in an extraordinary move Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump’s office called publicly for the firing of Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel.

For all of the talk of churn, Trump often expresses frustration with aides and then does not take action. Talk of Kelly’s exit has percolated for months and he remains in place.

Nielsen had hoped to complete one year in the job and leave in December, but it appeared unlikely she would last that long, said two sources. Both people who had knowledge of the debate spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Curbing illegal immigration is Trump’s signature issue – and one he returns to as a way to rally his most loyal supporters.

But anyone who takes over at Homeland Security is likely to run up against the same problems that Nielsen faced. The administration has already tried to clamp down at the border but those efforts have been largely thwarted or watered down due to legal challenges.

Trump also told allies that he never fully trusted Nielsen, whom he associated with President George W. Bush, a longtime foe. And he told those close to him that he felt, at times, that her loyalty was more toward her longtime mentor – Kelly – than to the president.

Zinke, who faces several ethics investigations, said in interview with The Associated Press on Monday that he has spoken in recent days with Trump, Pence and Kelly about probes into his leadership and they remain supportive. He denied any wrongdoing.

Ross addressed turnover rumours at a Yahoo! Finance summit Tuesday, saying he was in the post to give back to the country and support Trump.

“I worked very hard to get President Trump elected,” he said. “Now I’d like to work equally hard to have him succeed and be re-elected.”

Questions about Nielsen’s job security are not new. Earlier this year, she pushed back on a New York Times report that she drafted a resignation letter but did not submit it, after Trump scolded her at a Cabinet meeting.

Nielsen has led the sprawling post-9-11 federal agency since December. She had been chief of staff to Kelly when he was Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary. A DHS spokesman would not comment on whether she was leaving.

“The secretary is honoured to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the president’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” spokesman Tyler Houlton said.

Nielsen advocated for strong cybersecurity defence, and often said she believed the next terror major attack would occur online – not by planes or bombs. She was tasked with helping states secure elections following interference by Russians during the 2016 election.

She pushed Trump’s immigration policies, including funding for his border wall and defended the administration’s practice of separating children from parents, telling a Senate committee that removing children from parents facing criminal charges happens “in the United States every day.” But she was also instrumental in stopping the separations.

Just last week, the administration announced that migrants would be denied asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border if they crossed illegally, creating regulations that circumvent immigration laws stating anyone can claim asylum no matter how they arrive to the country. The decision would affect about 70,000 people annually and was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nielsen also moved to abandon longstanding regulations that dictate how long children are allowed to be held in immigration detention, and requested bed space from the U.S. military for some 12,000 people in an effort to detain all families who cross the border. Right now there is space for about 3,000 families and they are at capacity.

She got into heated discussions with Trump and White House aides several times over immigration policy, as she sought to explain the complicated legal challenges behind immigration law and pushed for a more diplomatic approach.

It’s unclear who would replace her. The job requires Senate confirmation and there is no deputy secretary. Under Secretary for Management Claire Grady would be the acting head if Nielsen left.

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Trump, after visit, slams France's Macron as relations sour

WASHINGTON/PARIS (REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump attacked his French counterpart on Tuesday (Nov 13) in a series of tweets that underscored how much the once-friendly ties between the two leaders have soured, just two days after returning from Paris.

In five posts sent on the same day that French officials marked the anniversary of the 2015 terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, Trump blasted the key US ally over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry and Macron’s approval ratings.

Trump returned to Washington from a weekend in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I where strained relations between the American President and European allies was on full display.

On Tuesday, Trump cited Macron’s “low approval rating” and unfair trade practices, and defended his absence from a commemoration event on Saturday saying the US Secret Service had vetoed driving to the venue due to poor weather.

Trump pointed to Macron’s recent comments about Europe’s need to protect itself, writing that “it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!” “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets, ending with “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”

Asked about Trump’s tweets, a key adviser to Macron said the French President had briefed Trump and his chief of staff during the Paris trip to reassure them that “that France is not about to make a choice between a European defence system and a multilateral approaches”.

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Trump discussed Khashoggi response with Turkey's Erdogan: White House official

PARIS (REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan, discussed how to respond to the killing last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a White House official said on Sunday (Nov 11).

The conversation took place during a Saturday (Nov 10) dinner with heads of state and government gathered in Paris to mark the World War One Armistice centenary.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate by a team sent from Riyadh. Saudi authorities have acknowledged that the killing was premeditated, but his body has not been found.

Erdogan disclosed on Saturday that audio recordings of the killing had been given to the US, French, German and British governments, adding that the operation had been ordered at the”highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Trump expects to form a “stronger opinion” by this coming week on Khashoggi’s killing and Washington’s response, he said last Wednesday – adding that he was working with Congress, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to establish who bore responsibility.

In a phone call with the crown prince on Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “emphasised that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same,” the State Department said in a statement.

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ACLU files lawsuit to stop Trump's new asylum restrictions

President barred asylum claims from those entering between official entry points on the US-Mexico border.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it was taking legal action to challenge President Donald Trump’s proclamation, which bans those crossing between official points of entry on the US southern border from receiving asylum.

    The order, which lasts for an initial 90 days, was issued by Trump on Friday after the administration issued the new regulations on Thursday. 

    “Neither the president nor his cabinet can override the clear commands of our law, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do,” the ACLU said in a tweet, adding: “We’ll see him in court.”

    The Trump administration says it is trying to restrict claims of asylum to official ports of entry, which are better resourced. However, the move is the latest by the Trump administration to restrict the ability to claim asylum or migrate to the US.

    Earlier this year, the then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy, which included the separation of children from parents and criminal prosecutions for those caught crossing the border between official ports of entry. Trump was forced to end his administration’s practice of separating families after public outcry. 

    Sessions also made it hard for those fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse to claim asylum. 

    Earlier this month, Trump sent troops to the border and has publicly mulled plans to establish tent cities where asylum seekers can be housed while their claims are processed.

    Caravan in Mexico

    The president’s chest beating over migration during the recent midterm election focused on a caravan of mainly Honduran migrants and asylum seekers heading towards the US border.

    Those who are part of the caravan are fleeing violence, including political persecution, and poverty and want to apply for asylum at an official border crossing.

    The journey through Mexico is wrought with the threat of cartel violence and human trafficking. Travelling in large groups offers the migrants a relative degree of safety.

    After resting in Mexico City this week, some caravan participants set out for Tijuana on Friday, while others plan to leave early on Saturday. 

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    Trump slaps down journalist for 'stupid' question

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump instructed journalists on Friday (Nov 9) to show more respect in the “sacred” White House and moments later angrily refused to answer a reporter’s question because it was “stupid.”

    The latest clash between the president and the press corps assigned to cover him followed a meltdown on Wednesday when Trump lashed out at a star CNN reporter as a “terrible person” and had him barred from the White House.

    In Friday’s incident, Abby Phillip, also from CNN, asked Trump whether he wanted his new attorney-general to hold back an explosive probe into allegations that the president’s 2016 election campaign colluded with Russian agents.

    The topic has been one of the main headlines in Washington since Wednesday when Trump abruptly fired Jeff Sessions as attorney-general and named Matthew Whitaker, who has strongly criticised the Russia probe, to replace him.

    Critics have accused Trump of placing an ally who will try to muzzle special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    Trump, speaking just before leaving for an international gathering in Paris to commemorate World War I, refused to answer Phillip.

    “What a stupid question that is, what a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions,” he said, shaking a finger at the journalist, then walking away.

    Moments earlier he had defended his decision to bar CNN reporter Jim Acosta following their exchange at Wednesday’s press conference, saying that Acosta “is a very unprofessional guy.”

    Asked how long Acosta will be denied the credential allowing him to work inside the White House, Trump said he had not decided and seemed to indicate that the extremely unusual sanction could be applied to more journalists.

    “It could be others also,” he said.

    Trump went on to refer to another reporter, April Ryan, who works for American Urban Radio Networks and CNN, as “a loser” and “very nasty.”

    The president said that the bad blood between him and the media was the fault of journalists showing insufficient deference.

    “When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place to me. It’s a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect,” he said.

    Related Stories: 

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    Opinion | Tipping the Scales of Justice

    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

    Patrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for The New York Times. View more of his work, visit his website or follow him on Twitter. @PatChappatte

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    Trump suggests he won't turn over tax returns even if Democrats demand them

    WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) – President Donald Trump and newly empowered congressional Democrats appeared to be on a collision course over the release of the President’s tax returns, as a top Democrat signalled he would demand the information under federal law and Mr Trump insisted he would attempt to block any release.

    Representative Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, slated to become the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, plans to insist Mr Trump voluntarily release his tax returns, he said in an interview.

    If Mr Trump doesn’t, then Mr Neal will file a legal request with the Treasury Secretary that would require the returns be disclosed to a small group of people on Capitol Hill. He predicted the matter would end up in federal court.

    At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr Trump said his tax returns were already under audit and therefore he would not release them.

    He said he might consider releasing them at a later date, something he has said since at least 2016.

    “Nobody turns over a (tax) return when it’s under audit,” Mr Trump said during a news conference when asked about the returns.

    Later, though, he acknowledged the audit would not prevent the release of his tax returns.

    “I didn’t say it prevented me, I said lawyers will tell you not to do it,” he said. Then he asked the reporter to change the subject.

    Democrats have said they want to scrutinise Mr Trump’s tax returns to see if he has any conflicts of interest.

    The inquiry could potentially tie to a broader investigation into any connection between Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian involvement in the 2016 election – a charge the President has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

    Mr Neal said there was longstanding precedent of presidents and presidential candidates releasing their tax returns. He acknowledged, though, that the Treasury Department might not quickly provide the information, setting up a legal battle.

    “I assume that there would be some sort of a court case, but we’d have to wait and see,” he said.

    He said he would defer to staff on the Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress to determine what information might be requested and who would have access to it. He said the information could be closely held within Congress, as they’d want to abide by any legal parameters that protect privacy.

    It’s unclear what powers Mr Trump might use to block the release of these filings, as the White House is not supposed to be part of the decision-making process that was set forth in the 1924 law that gives lawmakers the ability to demand the release of any tax return.

    If Democrats demand the returns and Mr Trump refuses to release them, it could set off a series of legal challenges, with federal judges being asked to adjudicate the limits of the President’s power.

    If Mr Neal formally requests Mr Trump’s tax returns, the request would go to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Federal law stipulates that Mr Mnuchin “shall” turn over the tax returns, and doesn’t appear to give him much flexibility.

    It also doesn’t appear to give the White House the power to intervene.

    Treasury Department officials have been noncommittal about what would happen if Mr Neal submits the request, and an agency spokesperson on Wednesday said, “Secretary Mnuchin will review any request with Treasury’s General Counsel for legality.”

    Mr Trump’s main reason for saying he wouldn’t allow the tax returns to be released is because “people don’t understand tax returns”.

    Mr Neal dismissed that justification.”How do you do them if nobody understands them?” Mr Neal said, adding, “tax staff over at Joint Tax (Committee), they’re pretty capable people.”

    “I think it’s pretty obvious these are going to be complex documents,” Mr Neal said.

    Mr Trump also said that if Democrats began using their new majority to investigate him, he would direct Senate Republicans to launch investigations targeting Democrats.

    The investigations, he said, would destroy any prospect of bipartisan cooperation next year.

    “All you are going to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is going to end up and we won’t have done a thing,” Mr Trump said.

    In first calling on Mr Trump to disclose the records voluntarily, Mr Neal could be setting up a scenario where Mr Trump can disclose a limited amount of records and avoid having Congress comb through all of his past tax returns.

    In Tuesday night’s midterm election, Democrats won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. They will control the chamber beginning in January when new members are sworn in.

    Some leading Democrats have suggested they will use a 1924 law that allows the the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain the tax returns of any American from the Treasury Secretary.

    They have said they might do this because during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump became one of the only presidential candidates in recent history who refused to release his tax returns.

    The law Democrats would use to demand the tax returns was created during the Teapot Dome scandal in the Harding administration, when lawmakers were investigating conflicts of interest during the White House at that time.

    The law says the Treasury Secretary “shall furnish” any “return or return information” requested by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.

    If Mr Trump ordered Mr Mnuchin not to release his tax returns, Democrats could file a lawsuit and the issue could ultimately end up before the Supreme Court.

    Mr George Yin, the former executive director of the Joint Committee on Taxation, said in an interview on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe there is any legal basis for the White House to assert executive privilege in attempting to block the release of tax returns.

    “I can’t think of any grounds for executive privilege,” said Mr Yin, who is now a professor of law and taxation at the University of Virginia. “All of this seems to me to have nothing to do with his official duties as President.”

    But he said there would be an onus on Democrats to explain precisely why they are seeking the information, in order to prove there is a legitimate legislative purpose for any inquiry.

    Ms Janice Mays, who spent more than 40 years on the House Ways and Means Committee, including as chief counsel, said if Mr Trump sought to block the release of his tax returns, Democrats could file a lawsuit, likely in US District Court. Ms Mays is now a managing director of tax policy services at PwC.

    What the White House would want, Ms Mays said, “is to buy two years of time” while the issue was bogged down by lawyers.

    And then the White House would hope “Republicans take the House (of Representatives in the 2020 election) and nobody is demanding (the tax returns) at that point.”

    In the interview, Mr Neal said Democrats did not win control of the House by promising to obtain Mr Trump’s tax returns, and that it would not be the singular focus of his first year as chairman.

    He said Americans were more interested in issues like healthcare and Social Security, things he planned to focus on next year.

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    CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s White House access revoked after spat with Trump

    CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has been denied entrance into the White House for “placing hands on a young woman” trying to take away his microphone while asking U.S. President a question, the same day Trump said he was “rude” and a “terrible person.”

    Acosta posted a video on his Twitter account of a U.S. secret service agent taking away his credentials to enter the White House.

    “The US Secret Service just asked for my credential to enter the WH,” Acosta wrote. “As I told the officer, I don’t blame him. He is just doing his job.”

    In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Acosta’s refusal to give up a microphone to a young staffer who tried to take it away Wednesday at a press conference with Trump is the reason his access has been denied.

    “[The White House will] never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” Sanders said. “As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”

    The incident in question happened during a tense exchange between Acosta and Trump.

    Acosta was repeatedly trying to ask Trump about his referral to a migrant caravan headed to the U.S. from Central America as an “invasion.”

    During the question, Trump interrupted and said, “Here we go again.”

    As the exchange heated up, Trump said, “I think you should let me run the country, and you run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”

    Acosta tried to ask another question but Trump repeatedly said “that’s enough.”

    That’s when the staffer attempted to take Acosta’s microphone away, and Acosta said “excuse me, ma’am,” while he continued to try to ask his question.

    That’s when Trump said, “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person, you shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

    Trump said the way Acosta treats Sanders is “horrible.”

    Acosta later wrote on Twitter that Sanders explanation for why his access has been revoked is “a lie.”

    Commenting on his revoked pass on CNN, Acosta said he does think the U.S. government is “trying to shut us down.”

    “I never though in this country I wouldn’t be able to cover [the U.S.] just because I was trying to ask a question,” he said.

    CNN has issued a statement after the incident with Trump but before Acosta’s access was revoked that said Trump has “gone too far.”

    “This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” CNN wrote. “A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”

    — With files from Rebecca Joseph and Katie Dangerfield

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    US Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired following criticism from Trump over Russia probe

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions a day after congressional elections, and vowed to fight if the U.S. House of Representatives’ new Democratic majority launches probes into his administration.

    Sessions, an early supporter of Trump who ran afoul with him by recusing himself from a investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, said in a letter to the president he had submitted his resignation “at your request.”

    Never in modern history has a president attacked a Cabinet member as frequently and harshly in public as Trump did Sessions, 71, who had been one of the first members of Congress to back his presidential campaign in 2015.

    Trump announced Sessions’ departure on Twitter. Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, will be acting attorney general, Trump said on Twitter.

    During a combative news conference in which he tangled with reporters, Trump trumpeted his role in Republican gains in Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections, and warned he would adopt a “warlike posture” if Democrats investigated him.

    Democrats will now head House committees that can probe the president’s tax returns, which he has refused to turn over, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 campaign and Russia, a matter being investigated by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    Mueller is overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reports to Sessions.

    Trump said he could fire Mueller if he wanted but was hesitant to take that step. “I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it, because politically I don’t like stopping it,” he said.

    Moscow denies meddling and Trump, calling the Mueller probe a witch hunt, denies any collusion.

    Trump was buoyed on Wednesday by victories that added to the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, telling reporters at the White House that the gains outweighed the Democrats’ takeover of the House. He added that he was willing to work with Democrats on key priorities but felt any House investigations of his administration would hurt prospects for bipartisanship.

    “They can play that game, but we can play it better,” Trump said of the possibility of Democratic investigations. “All you’re going to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is going to go up and we won’t have done a thing.”

    The divided power in Congress combined with Trump’s expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock in Washington.

    There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure, protections against prescription drug price increases and in the push to rebalance trade with China.

    “It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation,” Trump said.

    He said Nancy Pelosi, who could be the next speaker of the House, had expressed to him in a phone call a desire to work together. With Democrats mulling whether to stick with Pelosi, who was speaker when the party last controlled the House, or go in a new direction, Trump wrote in a tweet earlier that she deserves to be chosen for the position.

    Pelosi, at a news conference on Capitol Hill, said Democrats would be willing to work with Trump where possible, but added, “We have a constitutional responsibility to have oversight.”

    “I don’t think we’ll have any scattershot freelancing in terms of this. We will have a responsibility to honor our oversight responsibilities and that’s the path we will go down. We again (will) try to unify our country,” she said.

    The Democrats fell short of a tidal wave of voter support that would have won them control of both chambers of Congress. But in the 435-member House, the party was headed for a gain of around 30 seats, beyond the 23 they needed to claim their first majority in eight years.

    A Senate majority would have allowed Democrats to apply even firmer brakes on Trump’s policy agenda and given them the ability to block any future Supreme Court nominees.

    House Democrats could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico and pass a second major tax-cut package. Legislators could also demand more transparency from Trump as he negotiates new trade deals with Japan and the European Union.

    “Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans; it’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Pelosi told supporters at a victory party Tuesday night.

    Trump also mocked Republican candidates who had refused to back his policies and ultimately lost their races, such as U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

    “They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad but I feel just fine about it,” he said.

    U.S. stocks jumped on Wednesday as investors, who often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty, bought back into a market that had its worst month in seven years in October.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained more than 2 percent by late afternoon while the broad-based S&P 500 index was up nearly 2 percent. The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of currencies, was slightly weaker.

    A Democrat-controlled House could hamper Trump’s attempts to further his pro-business agenda, fueling uncertainty about his administration. His corporate tax cuts and the deregulation that have played a large hand in the U.S. stock market’s rally since the 2016 election, however, are likely to remain untouched.

    “With the Democrats taking over the House, we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. As for the market impact, a split Congress has historically been bullish for equities and we expect to see the same pattern again,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank.

    Democrats will use their new majority to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward Trump’s foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

    Foreign policy has been an area that Trump has approached in a very personal way, sometimes antagonizing allies such as Canada while making what critics see as unduly warm overtures to traditional U.S. rivals or foes.

    Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats could work with Republicans to produce a long-awaited bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and airports.

    “Of course, we want to work in a bipartisan fashion. I think we can get an infrastructure bill,” he said.

    Trump had hardened his rhetoric in recent weeks on issues that appealed to his conservative core supporters. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed through Mexico to the U.S. border and condemnations of liberal American “mobs” he says oppose him.

    Every seat in the House was up for grabs on Tuesday and opinion polls had pointed to the Democratic gains. The party with the presidency often loses House seats in midterm elections.

    The Republicans had an advantage in Senate races because elections were held for only 35 seats in the 100-member chamber and many of them were in states that often lean Republican.

    Republicans built on their slim Senate majority by several seats and ousted at least three incumbent Democrats: Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

    In Florida, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson was trailing his Republican rival, Governor Rick Scott, by a slim margin, with the possibility of a recount looming. Republican Martha McSally was leading Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona with some votes still to be counted.

    The Republican gains are sure to bolster the party’s efforts to get conservative federal judges through confirmation proceedings. In the 36 gubernatorial contests, Democrats won in several states that supported Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio.

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    Trump clashes with 'rude, terrible' CNN reporter Jim Acosta

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – A visibly angry President Donald Trump branded CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta a “rude, terrible person” and an “enemy of the people” in a testy exchange on national television on Wednesday (Nov 7) the day after America’s midterm elections.

    Trump laid into the CNN star – the latest in a long history of testy exchanges between the pair – after Acosta refused Trump’s orders to sit down and give up the microphone during a press conference.

    Trump appeared ready to walk out as Acosta clung to the microphone and persisted with questions about the president’s views on a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US border.

    When asked if he had “demonised immigrants” during the midterms campaign, Trump replied: “No, I want them to come into the country. But they have to come in legally.”

    Acosta persisted, saying: “They are hundreds of miles away. That is not an invasion.”

    At that point, the president snapped.

    “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be higher,” Trump said.

    As the reporter continued, Trump declared: “That’s enough, put down the mic” and walked away from his own podium, as if leaving.

    An aide attempted to grab the microphone from Acosta, who nevertheless trued to shout out one last question.

    Waving his finger, Trump berated him.

    “I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” he said.

    When NBC reporter Peter Alexander took the mic for the next question, he defended Acosta as a “diligent reporter” – earning Trump’s ire.

    “I’m not a fan of yours either. To be honest. You aren’t the best,” he said.

    Looking back at Acosta, who again rose up in his own defence, Trump added: “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

    In a statement, CNN called out Trump.

     “This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American,” the network said, voicing its support for Acosta and “journalists everywhere”. 

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