Midterm elections The Democrats won 40 seats to retake control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans won three seats in the Senate, to increase their majority. The result of the November 6 election was not the predicted ‘blue wave’, but it did set up political subplots for the next two years: the Democrats have gained more subpoena power, allowing them to summon Donald Trump’s associates to testify before House committees, and the ability to block White House legislation. By keeping hold of the Senate, Trump is free to elect his own nominees to the Supreme Court and the cabinet.
More sackings Trump’s first move after the midterms was to fire Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney General, a target of the president’s anger since he stood aside from oversight of the Mueller inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In his place, Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker who has criticized the scope of the inquiry.
Jim Acosta The White House correspondent for CNN had his press pass removed by the Trump administration on November 8, a day after sharing a heated press conference exchange with Trump, who branded him a ‘rude and terrible person’. Acosta had asked the president to clarify why he had referred to the caravan of migrants heading towards the US border as an ‘invasion’. Acosta got his pass back after a judge ruled that he had been deprived of a fair and transparent process.
Melania strikes back Mira Ricardel, deputy national security adviser and a veteran of three Republican administrations, was removed from her post after gaining several enemies in the White House, most notably Melania Trump, who publicly demanded her firing.
Trade war The United States and China averted a breakdown in their trade dispute on December 1 after Trump agreed to delay new tariffs for 90 days, and President Xi Jinping pledged to increase purchase of American products. The two met during the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.
Emailgate The Washington Post reported on November 19 that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House senior adviser, used her personal email account to conduct government business in violation of federal records rules. Emails which Hillary Clinton sent from a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State were a feature of the 2016 election, with Trump supporters chanting ‘lock her up’.
A lawyer for Ivanka denied that any of the emails contained classified information.