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Trump Boasts of ‘Very Big Win’ in Elections, Even as Democrats Retake House

U.S. President Donald Trump is boasting of “a Very Big Win” in Tuesday’s national congressional elections, after Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate, even as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.

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Washington, DC, United States (VOA) – U.S. President Donald Trump is boasting of “a Very Big Win” in Tuesday’s national congressional elections, after Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate, even as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.

“Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well,” Trump said on Twitter early Wednesday ahead of his White House news conference on the election. “Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!”

The results make it more difficult for Trump to win approval for his legislative initiatives. House Democrats are also vowing to launch numerous investigations of Trump’s finances and his administration’s policies, which the U.S. leader said would be matched with Senate Republican probes of Democrats.

Trump called House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to congratulate her on the Democratic takeover in the House. He said Democratic lawmakers, some of whom have said the party needs new and younger leadership, should again make her the House speaker, the top position in the chamber and second in line to the presidency.

The 78-year-old Pelosi was the first woman to be House speaker, from 2007 to 2011, when Democrats last held a House majority.

“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats,” Trump said. “If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!”

Trump appeared determined to take credit for Republican victories, tweeting, “To any of the pundits or talking heads that do not give us proper credit for this great Midterm Election, just remember two words – FAKE NEWS!”

The split congressional outcome, which independent pollsters and analysts had been predicting for weeks, serves as at least a partial rebuke of Trump, who staged 11 political rallies in eight states in the last week of the campaign, repeatedly telling his most fervent Republican supporters the election was essentially a referendum on his 22-month presidency.

Pelosi, in claiming a House victory for Democrats, said the election was more than about Democrats and Republicans. Rather, she said, “It’s about restoring constitutional checks and balances to the Trump administration.”

In the House, legislative committees have strong investigatory powers. Some Democrats have suggested they will investigate whether Trump has any personal or financial conflicts of interest by demanding to see his tax returns, which he has refused to release, and look into his financial and business interests, as well as his 2016 presidential election campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

Some Democrats have called for Trump’s impeachment and are waiting to see what special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concludes about the 2016 election, and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe,

University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato said, “Big legislation with an ideological tint, left or right, won’t pass for the next two years. Democrats now have the power of subpoena so Trump and his administration can expect to be investigated rather than protected by the House.”

But by retaining control of the Senate, Republicans will preserve the ability to confirm Trump’s judicial nominations and other key appointments. The Republican-led Senate also could prevent Congress from removing Trump from office, if the Democratic-controlled House decides to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

Enthusiasm and large turnout

Though votes are still being counted in 21 congressional districts, Democrats are projected to pick up more than 30 seats in the House, more than the 23 seats they needed to claim the majority. That is consistent with many pre-election polls.

Democrats drew largely on a coalition of minority voters, young people and those in urban and suburban swing districts, many of whom were upset over Trump’s style of leadership and harsh language about immigrants and minorities.

“The demographic crisis has finally hit,” says Evan Siegfried, a Republican analyst. “And in a way that is brutal and is decimating the Republican Party.”

Though polls had suggested healthcare and the economy were main issues for voters, Trump was never far from voters’ minds.

A CNN national exit poll suggested 55 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s performance while 44 percent approve of it. Moreover, 56 percent of those surveyed believe the country is on the wrong track and only 41 percent said it was on the right track.

However, Republicans secured at least the 51 to 49 seat majority they hold now in the Senate and are expected to add a few more seats once the final results are in.

The White House said early Wednesday that Trump called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “to congratulate him on the historic Senate gains.”

Precincts across the country reported strong voter numbers for a midterm election.

The New York Times and Michael McDonald of the United States Election Project both estimated national turnout of at least 111 million, far surpassing the 83 million people who voted in the 2014 midterms.

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Politics

Pentagon IDs 3 Americans Killed in Syria Suicide Bomb Attack

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Washington, DC, United States (NewsBahn) – Pentagon IDs 3 Americans Killed in Syria Suicide Bomb Attack

The Pentagon has identified three of the four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group in Syria this week.

They are Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, from upstate New York and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.

The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor. The four were killed in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on Wednesday. The attack also wounded three U.S. troops and was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces went into the country in 2015.

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Report: Trump Told Attorney Cohen to Lie to Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to have directed his attorney to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The late Thursday account on BuzzFeed News said two anonymous federal law enforcement officials were the sources for the report about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

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Washignton, DC, United States (VOA) – U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to have directed his attorney to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The late Thursday account on BuzzFeed News said two anonymous federal law enforcement officials were the sources for the report about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

The sources say Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president told him to lie to Congress about Trump’s dealings with Russia.

BuzzFeed says the anonymous officials are also “involved in an investigation of the matter.”

According to the BuzzFeed account, Trump and two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Jr., “received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.”

Russia negotiations

At the same time Cohen was providing the Trumps with news about the negotiations with Russia, Trump was engaged in his successful presidential election and denying that he had any business deals with Russia.

“The allegation that the president of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business deals with Russia is among the most serious to date” Representative Adam Schiff of California said via Twitter. “We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”

Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas posted on Twitter that if the BuzzFeed story is true, then Trump “must resign or be impeached.”

BuzzFeed says it learned about Trump’s effort to have Cohen lie to Congress “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

Giuliani on collusion

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, has acknowledged that some officials with Trump’s 2016 campaign may have colluded with Russia to help him win, but says that Trump himself did not.

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor, told CNN late Wednesday.

“I said the president of the United States,” he added. “There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack” the opposition Democratic National Committee.

On Thursday, Giuliani sought to clarify his remarks, saying, “I represent only President Trump not the Trump campaign. There was no collusion by President Trump in any way, shape or form. Likewise, I have no knowledge of any collusion by any of the thousands of people who worked on the campaign.”

Giuliani’s comments during the CNN interview about Trump campaign involvement with Moscow were sharply at odds with what Trump himself has tweeted at least 13 times, that his successful campaign for the White House did not collude with Russia.

Most recently, last month, Trump said on Twitter:

Russia has rejected the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow’s agents meddled in the election to help Trump win, although President Vladimir Putin acknowledged at last July’s Helsinki summit with Trump that he wanted the then-real estate mogul to defeat his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors have been investigating Trump campaign links to Russia for 20 months and also whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

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Russia Detains Model Claiming Trump Secrets

Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who once claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, witnesses told AFP.

Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen name, NastyaRybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a “sex training course,” other passengers on the flight told AFP.

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Moscow, Russian Federation (NewsBahn) – Russia on Thursday detained a Belarusian model who once claimed she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office, witnesses told AFP.

Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen name, NastyaRybka, was held for questioning at a Moscow airport after she was deported from Thailand as part of a group convicted of participating in a “sex training course,” other passengers on the flight told AFP.

Russian authorities detained her and several others, including Alex Kirillov, a self-styled Russian seduction guru, witnesses said.

Plainclothes officials led away four members of the group,includingVashukevichand Kirillov, a woman who gave her name as Kristina told AFP after emerging at Sheremetyevo airport.

Describing herself as Kirillov’s wife, Kristina said she heard the group shouting and asking for an explanation of “why they were being detained.”

A law enforcement source told the TASS state news agency that Vashukevich,Kirillov and two others had been detained at the airport for questioning regarding recruitment for prostitution,a crime punishable by up to six years in jail.

Deripaska link

In a case that veered between salacious and bizarre,Vashukevichsaid she had traveled to Thailand after becoming embroiled in a political scandal with Russianaluminiumtycoon OlegDeripaska,a onetime associate of Trump’s disgraced former campaign director, Paul Manafort.

She then set tongues wagging by promising to reveal “missing puzzle pieces” regarding claims the Kremlin aided Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory.But the material neversurfacedand critics dismissed the claims as a publicity stunt.

Vashukevichwas held with several others in apoliceraid last February in the seaside resort of Pattaya, Thailand. In a risque seminar there,led by Kirillov, some participants wore shirts that said “sex animator” — though one person at the time described it as more of a romance-and-relationship course.

Vashukevichpleaded guilty alongside seven others to multiple charges, including solicitation and illegal assembly, at a Pattaya court on Tuesday, which ordered that the group be deported.

Kirillov, who has served as a quasi-spokesman for the mostly Russian group, told reporters as they arrived at that court Tuesday that he believed they had been set up.

“I think somebody ordered [ourarrest] …for money,” he said.

Vashukevichlookedsomber as she entered the courthouse and did not respond to questions from reporters.

Blacklisted in Thailand

On Thursday afternoon,Vashukevichand the majority of the convicted were put on an Aeroflot flight for Moscow. Thailand’s immigration chief, SurachateHakparn, said the last of the group would leave the country later in the evening.

They were also blacklisted from returning to Thailand.

It was unclear what would happen to them upon arrival in Moscow, but as a Belarusian citizen,Vashukevichwas expected to transit to Belarus.

Vashukevich, who has more than 120,000 followers on Instagram and penned a book about seducing oligarchs, already faces legal problems in Russia.

Deripaskawon an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against her and Kirillov in July after a video apparently filmed by the model showed the tycoon vacationing with an influential Russian deputy prime minister at the time.

“I don’t think she wants to get out [of the plane] in Moscow,” a Russian friend in Thailand who helped with the case told AFP on Thursday.

Both Washington and Moscow publicly shrugged offVashukevich’sstory, which the U.S. State Department described as “bizarre.”

Kremlin-connectedDeripaskaand Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, did business together in the mid-2000s.Manafort has since been convicted in the U.S. of financial crimes related to political work he did in Ukraine before the 2016 election, as well as witness tampering.

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