In Brief

Donald Trump sued by two states over business links

Attorney generals of Maryland and DC accuse US President of 'unprecedented constitutional violations'

Donald Trump claims' millions voted illegally' for Hilary Clinton' but offers no evidence

28 November

Donald Trump has claimed he won the popular vote on 8 November, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally" - but offered no evidence to support the accusation.

The president-elect's allegation, made in a series of posts on Twitter yesterday, "marked an unprecedented rebuke of the US electoral system by a president-elect" which was "met with immediate condemnation from voting experts", Politico reports.

The Republican won the Electoral College count and so the White House, although his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is expected to win the popular vote by about two million ballots. 

Trump's series of tweets took place after her campaign team said it would "participate in a recount effort being undertaken in Wisconsin, and potentially in similar pushes in Michigan and Pennsylvania", the New York Times says. 

Green Party candidate Jill Stein has called for the results in three key states to be checked because of "statistical anomalies" in voting patterns. 

However, the proposed recounts are "unlikely to significantly alter the results of the hard-fought campaign", says the Wall Street Journal.

Donald Trump says 'law is on my side' over conflicts of interest

24 November

Donald Trump presented himself as a hard-headed capitalist who would run the United States like a business on the campaign trail.

But who will run his actual businesses when he occupies the White House?

President and chief executive officer?

US media is growing increasingly concerned about the conflicts of interest that could arise after January's inauguration if Trump continues to oversee his business empire, which is generally valued at $3-$5bn (£2.4-£4bn).

The Washington Post says foreign diplomats are staying at the president-elect's hotel in Washington DC in an attempt to curry favour with the new regime.

However, in classic Trump style, the president-elect shrugged off concerns. "In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly," he told the New York Times . "I'd assumed that you'd have to set up some type of trust or whatever and you don't. The law's totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest."

The president is exempt from rules compelling government officials to put their assets into a blind trust, although Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, both of the Bushes and Bill Clinton all did so voluntarily, says Forbes.

Is there any precedent?

Company owners have become presidents in the past, but analysts predict the scale and spread of Trump's business holdings are going to cause a constitutional headache.

His international presence means "it would be hard to conceive of any major global trade deal that wouldn't raise a red flag", says Bloomberg.

Donald Trump to walk away from TPP trade deal

22 November

Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal "from day one" of his term as president.

The president-elect made the announcement in a short YouTube video message in which he outlined his administration's policy platforms for his first 100 days in office.


"I am going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a potential disaster for our country," he said. "Instead we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals."

Asia-Pacific leaders, meeting in Peru over the weekend, have indicated they will "continue to pursue free trade deals despite Mr Trump's opposition", the BBC says.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said TPP "would be meaningless without the United States", and conceded the deal's other signatory countries were yet to discuss how to salvage the agreement if Trump carried out his pledge.

US withdrawal "could bolster moves towards a new regional trade pact that includes China", The Guardian says.

Simon Rabinovitch, the Asia economics editor at The Economist, said the collapse of the TPP will "create a void in Asia" that China would seek to fill by becoming the region's "leader in shaping trade agreements".

The TPP is the largest trade pact in world history, involving 12 countries from the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, and covering 40 per cent of the world's economy. It was agreed in 2015 but is yet to be ratified.

The New York Times says the deal was "intended to play a strategic role in American diplomacy", and designed to "reaffirm the nation's role as a Pacific power and counter the rising influence of China".

What does Barack Obama really think of Donald Trump?

21 November

President Barack Obama has so far taken a diplomatic tone since Donald Trump was voted into the White House.

However, this weekend he hinted that could change if the Republican breaches certain US "values or ideals".

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, Obama promised to give the president-elect an "opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off".

But, he added, if an issue "goes to core questions about our values and our ideals and if I think that it's necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I'll examine it when it comes".

"By convention, former presidents tend to leave the political fray and avoid commenting on their successors," reports the BBC.

Obama has remained fairly neutral on Trump since the election and has even attempted to reassure colleagues and allies. He apparently told distraught White House staffers "this is not the apocalypse" and last week met with EU leaders to say Trump was committed to Nato and the Transatlantic Alliance.

The President has also revealed what he told his two daughters in the wake of post-election racial attacks. "What I say to them is that people are complicated," he told the New Yorker. "These are living organisms, and it's messy... You should anticipate that at any given moment there's going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn't stop. You don't get into a foetal position about it... You say, 'OK, where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward?'"

However, for all his reassurances, Obama's warnings while on the campaign trail with fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton will not be easily forgotten.

"Donald Trump's closing argument is, 'What do you have to lose?' The answer is, everything," he told supporters last month at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio.

"All the progress we've made right now is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot. Honesty is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Kindness is on the ballot. All the progress we made that last eight years is on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot right now."

Donald Trump makes 'extraordinarily casual' offer to Theresa May

18 November

Civil servants have been left scratching their heads after a leaked transcript showed Donald Trump telling Theresa May "If you travel to the US you should let me know", during their first phone call since the Republican's victory in the US election.

The UK Prime Minister was the tenth world leader to speak to the president-elect following the election. At the time, Downing Street reported that May had called "to congratulate him on his hard-fought election campaign and victory" and claimed May had been invited to visit the US "as soon as possible", reports The Guardian.

However, the leaked transcripts show that Trump's exact words were "If you travel to the US you should let me know". It's an "extraordinarily casual phrase", says The Independent, and casts doubt over whether May had actually been formally invited to visit Trump in the US.

One of the many criticisms levelled at Trump on his way to the White House was his lack of political experience, having never previously held an elected office. The leaked transcript has done little to allay these concerns, with the Daily Mirror referring to his phrasing as "bizarrely un-presidential".

Trump's shock election also raised concerns that the "special relationship" between the US and UK – a phrase coined by Winston Churchill to describe the countries' close political and cultural ties – would suffer under his presidency. 

There were rumours shortly after Trump's victory that the UK government might turn to Nigel Farage to liaise with Trump after he became the first British politician to meet the president-elect after the election.

However, both Downing Street and Farage himself have denied any wish to collaborate on a political level to ensure strong diplomatic ties to the US under Trump.

Donald Trump's transition 'disarray'

16 November

Donald Trump has denied that his transition team is in chaos after several senior members were fired.

The first sign of trouble came last Friday, when New Jersey governor Chris Christie was dumped from his role of transition leader and replaced by vice president-elect Mike Pence.

The bloodletting escalated yesterday, with the sacking of two senior officials in charge of handling national security issues.

Former Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan and lobbyist Matthew Freedman were both fired in "a purge orchestrated by Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law and close adviser", says the New York Times.

"There are people who are in and people who are out. And the people who have been asked to move on have some relationship with Chris Christie," said Rogers.

Kushner has a difficult history with Christie. His father was prosecuted by then-US Attorney Christie in 2004 for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions, says CNN.

Speculation continues over whom Trump will choose for the top jobs in his new administration.

Among the candidates being discussed is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is "frontrunner for the prize job of secretary of state", despite having "no foreign policy experience beyond strong advocacy for the war on terror following the 11 September 2001 terror attacks", The Guardian says.

Blood relatives look set to feature prominently. "Trump has taken the unprecedented step of requesting his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, receive top-secret clearance to join him for his Presidential Daily Briefings," reports NBC News.


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