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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Donald Trump warns Democrats against probes and mocks Republicans who lost seats

Republicans beat back a ‘blue wave’ that never fully materialised

US President Donald Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. AFP
US President Donald Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. AFP

President Donald Trump warned House Democrats on Wednesday he won’t cooperate with them if they launch probes against him, adding they would risk public “investigation fatigue” and retribution from the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats won the US House majority, shifting the policy agenda in Washington toward a stalemate after two years of unified GOP control of Congress and the White House.

“They can play that game, but we can play it better,” Mr Trump said at a White House news conference. He cited “questionable things” done by Democrats, including “leaks of classified information.”

The news conference followed midterm results that saw Republicans expand their control of the Senate but lose their majority in the House, a setback for the president after a campaign that became a referendum on his combative leadership.

Mr Trump also mocked those Republican candidates who lost their seats after refusing to embrace him on the campaign trail, such as US Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

The president crowed that Republicans held control of the Senate and then took aim at members of the House, where the GOP lost. Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado blamed his loss on resentment toward Mr Trump in his Denver-area district. The president responded: "Too bad, Mike." As for Utah Rep. Mia Love's loss Tuesday, Trump said: "Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost," adding, "Sorry about that, Mia."

Mr Trump went on to say he's happy with "most" of his Cabinet, suggesting more changes may be coming and that he is "looking at different people for different positions," adding that "it is very common after the midterms."

Unexpectedly Mr Trump also announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be his running mate once again in the 2020 presidential election, when he hopes to capture a second term in the White House.

"Mike, will you be my running mate?" Mr Trump asked Mr Pence in front of reporters. "The answer is yes," Mr Trump said after hearing the response. "That was unexpected but I feel very fine."

Earlier on Wednesday Mr Trump highlighted Senate Republican gains but continued threatening Democrats, who by winning back control of the House of Representatives have the power to investigate the president's personal and professional conduct.

Mr Trump has long felt aggrieved by the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He took to Twitter the morning after the split election outcome for the GOP to put Democrats on notice about their threats to investigate him and the administration.

Democrats are also interested in Mr Trump's tax returns, which he has declined to make public.

"If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!" Mr Trump said.

Hours earlier, the president had hailed a “big victory” in the midterm election and tweeted that "now we can all get back to work and get things done!"

Democrats took control of the House for the first time since 2010, shifting the balance of power in Washington where Republicans had dominated both chambers.

Democrats were on course to retake at least 27 seats from Republican hands, with strong performances among suburban white women who had narrowly turned to Mr Trump two years ago.

In the 100-member Senate, Republicans retained seats in the South, Midwest and West and ensured at least a 51-49 majority, equal to their current margin.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to return as speaker of the House, promised that the party will serve as a counterweight to Mr Trump.

"Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It's about restoring the constitution's checks and balances to the Trump administration," she told a news conference.

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Read more:

What does Tuesday's outcome mean for the 2020 presidential election?

US Congress welcomes trailblazers as record number of women and minorities elected

Midterm results are the first steps to curtailing Trump's power

Inside the GOP’s Arizona after party, upbeat mood as Trump’s election ‘firewall’ holds

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The election was historic for different reasons. Rashida Tlaib became the first Arab-American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives.

The congresswoman-elect for Michigan's 13th district, said she drew strength from being a "proud Palestinian-American, woman and Muslim".

Republicans in Arizona celebrated the Senate remaining in their hands. At the Hilton DoubleTree Resort, music blared from the hall and smiles were etched on faces. The story was now all about what comes next in Washington.

“We are in a battle. But Trump is very resilient. We have the Senate, the Supreme Court and the White House. That’s a firewall,” GOP volunteer James Murr said.

Democrats running for Senate seats received some 12 million more votes than Republicans, but the structure of the US political system – which allocates two Senate seats per state – means candidates in less populated states needed fewer votes to win.

The result was broadly in line with what many analysts projected but makes for a confusing picture.

The Democrats soundly routed the Republicans in the House and lost seats to them in the upper chamber because, to put it simply, different rules govern elections for the two chambers.

Mr Trump praised candidates who embraced his policies and principles during the midterm election, saying they "did very well".

But, in another tweet on Wednesday, he told those candidates who avoided him to "say goodbye!"