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Trump, Clinton turn presidential debate into personal war



Hillary and Trump

St. Louis, Oct 10 : Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shook hands after ending the nastiest US presidential debate, with CNN indicating the Republican lost with only 34 per cent votes to Clinton’s 57.

As the Democrat tried to pin down Trump over his video remarks about groping women, Trump launched a blistering attack against Clinton and her husband during the bitter Sunday night debate in Washington University.

Unlike the first debate, there was no sign of cordiality between the two as they entered the arena with former President and the Democrat’s husband Bill Clinton and the Republican’s wife Melania Trump already seated with their extended families.

The first question was from a teacher in the audience who asked if the two candidates were modelling appropriate behaviour for American children.

Clinton promised to work “with every American” and to be “the president for all Americans”. A cautious Trump said she agreed “with everything she said”.

The explosion came soon after CNN’s Anderson Cooper questioned Trump about the 2005 video leaked by the Washington Post. “You bragged you sexually assualted women — do you understand that?”

Trump tried his best to defend his lewd comments. “No that’s not what I said. This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it.”

He then turned to terrorism and “bad things happening” in the world.

The video leaked on Friday sparked a dramatic rebuke of the billionaire, with dozens of Republican leaders saying he should step aside and let his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, lead the GOP ticket.

Clinton said Trump “was not fit to be president and commander in chief”.

“We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10… It’s not only women, it’s not only this video… This is who Donald Trump is.”

Trump then accused Bill Clinton of doing much worse than just talking about sexual assault and targeted Hillary Clinton of harassing a rape victim.

This was hours after Trump made a surprise appearance with women who have in the past accused Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual advances. The women later joined the audience.

Trump went on to call Hillary Clinton a “devil” and “liar” with “hate in her heart”. But Clinton stayed calm.

Trump also threatened to use the power of the American government to investigate Clinton and jail her over the private email server saga.

“If I win, I am going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Trump thundered.

Clinton was less dominant than in the first debate and less effective in parrying Trump’s attacks in an encounter far more frosty than their first clash.

Clinton hammered Trump for his treatment of the parents of a Muslim solider killed in Iraq, his disparagement of a judge with Mexican heritage and for his mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter.

The Republican accused her of starting the birther claim and asked her to apologise to President Barack Obama. He also mentioned WikiLeaks’ disclosures of internal emails from Democrats.

Trump appeared hassled by the fact that his rival was getting more time to respond and that the moderators were not bringing up issues related to Clinton.

At one point, Trump insisted that Clinton answer the question about healthcare. He insisted that the Affordable Care Act was too expensive and vowed to repeal it.

Asked by a young woman in the audience about Muslims in the US being targeted, Trump said: “She (Clinton) won’t say the name, and Obama won’t say the name, but the name is there: ‘Radical Islamic terror’.”

On his proposal to ban entry of Muslims into the US, the Republican said: “I don’t want to have hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about their values, their love for our country.”

Clinton called out Trump for denying his support for the war in Iraq. Trump interrupted and said he was always against the war in Iraq.

Replying to a voter’s question, whether the candidates will be a devoted president to all people, Trump spoke about African-Americans, the inner cities and Latinos.

He cited a remark Clinton made, saying that half Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables”. Clinton apologised for the remark.

Trump suggested he would align himself with some of America’s enemies, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to fight the Islamic State.

“I don’t like Assad at all but Assad is killing IS. Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

When Cooper pressed Trump about his early hours Twitter rant against former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the billionaire deflected and began talking about Clinton and Libya.

He brought up the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya, saying Clinton ignored multiple requests for more security from the US ambassador who was killed.

Asked by an undecided voter to find something she admired about Trump, Clinton mentioned his family, who she said had inherited their father’s drive.

Trump admitted to some grudging respect for Clinton’s resilience.

“I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter.”

The debate ended with a handshake that was missing at the outset. In contrast, Bill Clinton and Melania shook hands before the debate started.

According to a CNN/ORC poll, 57 per cent of debate watchers thought Clinton won compared to 34 who thought Trump came out on top.


Trump administration imposes sanctions against 19 Russians over interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”



Putin Trump

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration took a tougher tone on Russia Thursday, signing on to a statement sharply criticizing Moscow for allegedly orchestrating a chemical weapons attack against an ex-Russian spy in the U.K., and issuing long-awaited sanctions against Russian “cyber actors” for interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The new sanctions — against five entities and 19 individuals — come amid criticism that President Donald Trump had failed to firmly confront and aggressively counter alleged Russian attacks on allied soil and continued efforts to destabilize U.S. politics.

The sanctions, while new from the Treasury Department, overlap with previous steps taken by the U.S., including naming all 13 Russians previously indicted by Robert Mueller for 2016 election meddling. The president has previously sought to delegitimize Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and called claims that his campaign colluded with Russia “phony.”

On a call with reporters Thursday a senior national security official called the sanctions “just one of a series of ongoing actions we’re taking to counter Russian aggression.”

“There will be more to come,” said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity and offering no further specifics.

Speaking to the disinformation campaign that Russia employed during the 2016 U.S. election, another senior national security official advised that propaganda disinformation campaigns “lose their effect if the American people are aware of foreign actors attempting to manipulate them.”

That awareness could be bolstered by the president, who has been reluctant to speak out at length about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. An official demurred when asked if Trump would speak out as part of these stepped up efforts.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”

The president begrudgingly signed a bill last year that imposed sanctions on Russia, pressured by his Republican Party not to move on his own toward a warmer relationship with Moscow in light of Russian actions during the 2016 elections. Trump called the bill “seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

The sanctions announcement came shortly after the release of a joint statement from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France on Thursday morning in which the U.S. said it shared British assessments “that there is no plausible alternative explanation” to the military-grade nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, adding that “Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility.”

The White House’s tough response on the chemical attack comes after an initially tepid one from the briefing room lectern on Monday. Asked if the Trump administration shared the U.K.’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “the fullest condemnation” of the “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible” act — falling short of saying Russia was definitely behind it.

Just hours before his surprise firing-via-Twitter, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke with the administration on the issue, telling reporters traveling with him on an overseas trip that the poisoning attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”

The administration’s response evolved by midweek, however, culminating in a forceful and direct statement from Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations Security Council in New York in which she said “the United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent.” She also voiced the “absolute solidarity” of the U.S. with Britain after the U.K.’s decision to expel 23 Russia diplomats in response to the chemical attack.

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Trump sacks Tillerson as secretary of state

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.




US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

A senior White House official told the BBC about the timing of the announcement: “The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.”

Mr Tillerson was on an official tour of Africa last week when he was apparently caught unawares by Mr Trump’s announcement that he would hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The top US diplomat’s team said he was feeling unwell on Saturday and later in the weekend the state department said he would cut short his tour by a day.

On Monday, Mr Tillerson appeared to depart from White House talking points when he backed British authorities in blaming the Kremlin for the poisoning of a former Russian spy near his home in southern England.

The secretary of state said the nerve agent attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response”.

But earlier in the day the White House declined to point the finger at Russia.

Reports have swirled of a schism in the Trump administration between the commander-in-chief and his top diplomat, as the US faces a host of vexatious foreign policy conundrums, from North Korea to Iran.

Last October Mr Tillerson was forced to convene a news conference to deny reports that he was considering quitting, though he did not comment on a report that he had called his boss a moron after a meeting last July at the Pentagon.

Last autumn, Mr Trump publicly undercut the former Texas oilman by tweeting that he was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Mr Tillerson was reported to be astonished at how little Mr Trump grasped the basics of foreign policy.

The New York Times quoted sources as saying Mr Trump was irritated by Mr Tillerson’s body language during meetings.

Mr Tillerson was said to roll his eyes or slouch when he disagreed with the decisions of his boss.

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Trump’s lawyer used home equity funds to pay porn star




Washington, March 10 : Donald Trump’s personal lawyer used funds from his own home equity line to make a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on the US President’s behalf, he told CNN.

“The funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank,” Cohen said in an interview on Friday.

The lawyer also confirmed that he used his Trump Organization email account to communicate details of a payment transfer to Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with the President before his time in office.

Earlier on Friday, Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, provided an email to CNN in which Cohen confirmed the transfer to Daniels’ former attorney, Keith Davidson.

In the email, both Cohen’s personal email account and email account were used.

The deposit was confirmed to Cohen by a First Republic Bank employee.

Cohen responded later on Friday, saying that he regularly used his business email account for personal matters.

“I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails. I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate,” he said.

Avenatti, speaking on MSNBC, said Cohen’s use of his business email to conduct this transaction could be an indication that he was acting in an official capacity as a legal counsel to Trump when he transferred the money to Clifford.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that “arbitration was won in the President’s favour” regarding the case, reports CNN.

The statement was an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists and that it directly involves Trump.

It was the first time the White House had admitted the President was involved in any way with Clifford.

Clifford filed suit against Trump on Tuesday, alleging that he never signed a hush agreement regarding the alleged affair and therefore the agreement is void.

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