Donald Trump hailed ‘a historic day’ for Republicans in the American mid-term elections and became embroiled in an extraordinary confrontation with a CNN reporter at his press conference today.
Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives, and are projected to win 238 seats to the Republicans 197 seats – with Republicans projected to retain control of the Senate and increase their majority to 54 seats.
At the press conference President Trump took credit for victory, then when taking questions from the media, got into a furious row with CNN reporter Jim Acosta who challenged his characterisation of migrants heading for the US border in a ‘caravan’ from Central America as ‘an invasion.’
A riled President Trump points and admonishes CNN reporter Jim Acosta in a tense argument between the two at his press conference today. The duo often clash during the President’s briefings at the White House
President Trump denied using a migrant caravan making its way to the US border through Mexico to whip up fear ahead of Tuesday’s election to win votes, and then went on to admonish Acosta
A clearly riled President Trump then said: ‘Why don’t you let me run the country you run CNN and if you did it well your ratings would improve.’
Acosta attempted to ask a further question that was denied to him before him and a White House Aide then got into a strange fight over the microphone.
The reporter attempted to ask a question about whether President Trump was ‘concerned about the investigation into Russia’, with a quick riposte coming from Trump who said the investigation was a ‘hoax.’
The President added: ‘CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a very rude ..terrible person.. the way you treat Sarah Huckabee is…’
The room went temporarily silent before another question from a reporter was taken who defended Acosta describing him as ‘diligent’.
President Trump shot back at the reporter he ‘wasn’t a big fan of his either’ to laughter from the room, before Acosta stood up again and started talking to the President.
Trump said ‘just sit down please’ and then accused Acosta of reporting ‘fake news’ and branded him ‘an enemy of the people.’
A White House aide takes the microphone from Jim Acosta as he attempts to ask a further question to President Trump. The reporter managed to ask a further question about Russia that President Trump rebutted saying the investigation was a ‘hoax’
At the start of the news conference President Trump claimed the largest Senate gains for a President’s first midterms since President Kennedy in 1962.
He said: ‘We saw the group of candidates I supported achieve tremendous success last night.’
The President said he they had a ‘big day yesterday, an incredible day and last night the Republican party defied history to expand our Senate.’
They managed this despite being ‘getting bombarded with money on the other side’ and ‘a very hostile media coverage to put it mildly,’ he added – ‘it set a new standard.’
Donald Trump hailed a ‘Big Win’ for Republicans in the mid-term elections on Tuesday after the party increased its majority in the Senate, marking the first time since 2002 that a ruling party has picked up seats in the upper house of government
Trump said he had made history in raising the number of Senators to 55, ‘the largest number of Republican Senators for the last 100 years.’
Responding to Democrats threats over claims of Russian election tampering, Trump said ‘It’s been a long time they’ve got nothing.’
He continued, ‘They can play that game but we can play it better because we’ve got the Unites States Senate.’
He was also critical of some Republican candidates who did not accept his ’embrace.’
‘Those are some of the people that decided for their own reasons – whether its me or what we stand for, but what we stand for meant a lot to most people and we have had tremendous support of the Republican party – at 93% its a record.’ Trump said.
There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure or protections against prescription drug price increases.
‘It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation,’ Trump said.
He said Nancy Pelosi, who may be the next speaker of the House, had expressed to him in a phone call a desire to work together. But Trump doubted there would be much common ground if Democrats press investigations.
‘You can’t do it simultaneously,’ he said.
He also said he hopes he can work with Congress to get enough money to build his long-promised border wall but that he would not necessarily force a government shutdown over the issue.
‘We need the money to build the wall, the whole wall, not pieces of it,’
‘We need the wall, many Democrats know we need the wall, and we’re just going to have to see what happens.’
Republicans are forecast to hold 54 out of 100 seats in the Senate once all votes are counted, up from 51, while the Democrats are projected to take 238 seats in the House of Representatives, with 218 needed for a majority.
Trump used the result – the first time since 2002 that the ruling party has gained Senate seats – to congratulate himself, saying: ‘Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!’
Despite the Democrats making gains, Tuesday failed to live up to expectations that a ‘blue wave’ of support would sweep them into power in both houses and leave Trump as a lame duck.
But winning the House does give Democrats the ability to block Republican legislation they disagree with, frustrating Trump’s political agenda for the remaining two years of his term.
They also win control of several powerful committees which they have pledged to use to launch investigations into Trump, including subpoenaing tax records he refused to release during the 2016 election and probing whether he has received money from Russia.
Trump preempted that tactic on Wednesday, vowing to go to war on Capitol Hill if necessary.
He said: ‘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!’
The President used the victory to attack critics within his own party, saying that those who supported his pro-business, anti-illegal immigration policies ‘did very well’
As well as gaining the House, Democrats gained control of powerful committees which they plan to use to investigate Trump. But he preempted that tactic on Wednesday, vowing to fight fire with fire
The Democrats are on course to win 238 seats in the House following the mid-term elections on Tuesday, though the figure falls short of the upper limit of 245 that they hoped to win
Republicans clung on to power in the Senate after the Democrats were defeated in key battleground states of Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and North Dakota
Nancy Pelosi, who could return as Democrat House Speaker after last night’s result, proclaimed victory and said the party would work to impose Constitutional checks and balances on Donald Trump
Trump tweeted out his support for Pelosi after she said the Democrats would work with Republicans in the House ‘where we can find common ground’
Democrats can also use their new powers to force Republicans into uncomfortable conversations on issues such as gun control and healthcare by sending bills on these subjects from the House to the Senate.
Should any of these bills pass both houses and make it to Trump’s desk, it could force him to veto the legislation, something he hasn’t had to do so far and allowing Democrats to paint him as the bad guy.
But maintaining control of the Senate allows Trump to nominate justices and recruit members of his cabinet unopposed, and puts a stop to any hopes the Democrats may have had of impeaching him.
The result also helps silence Trump’s critics within his own party, a fact he seemed very aware of when he tweeted: ‘Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye!’
The omens are not all bad for Trump’s hopes of winning a second term in 2020 either. Obama lost the House and Senate in the 2010 mid-terms, which he described as a ‘shellacking’, but went on to win a second term in 2012.
Nancy Pelosi, former Democrat Speaker in the House, hailed the victory early Wednesday, vowing to apply ‘checks and balances’ to Trump’s power, but also saying Democrats would cooperate with Republicans where possible.
Donald Trump called her to congratulate her on the win, and later endorsed her for Speaker, suggesting that Republicans could back her if Democrat hardliners choose to vote her down.
The Democrats also made gains in the elections for state governors – which act like lesser Presidents for the state they represent – gaining seven seats from the Republicans.
However, high-profile candidates Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams fell short in Florida and Georgia, leaving the Republicans with a majority of governors nationwide.
Gillum was hoping to become the first black governor of Florida, while in Georgia Stacey Abrams was aiming to enter history as America’s first female black governor.
Gillum finished less than a percent shy of Republican rival Ron DeSantis, while Abrams finished two per cent short of Brian Kemp. However, Abrams was refusing to concede on Wednesday, in the hopes that a recount could force another contest in December.
Encouragingly for the Democrats, they won governor’s races in states where Trump claimed victory in 2016, and while facing down candidates the President had endorsed.
In Kansas, Laura Kelly triumphed by a four-point margin over Kris Kobach – a strong ally of Trump’s immigration policies – while in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer opened up an eight-point lead over Republican Bill Schuette.
Taylor Swift’s intervention also flopped as Marsha Blackburn won the Senate in Tennessee by 11 points over Democrat candidate Phil Bredesen, who the singer backed.
Trump called the night a ‘tremendous success’ for Republicans on Twitter because the incumbent party typically loses seats during the mid-terms, while he managed to make gains in the senate
The President also praised himself as a ‘magic man’, quoting from TV news reports that said the Republicans were ‘lucky’ to have him as their leader
One key Senate battleground was Texas, which had been widely seen as a safe seat for Republican Ted Cruz (pictured) until Beto O’Rourke emerged from obscurity to take him on
Ultimately Beto (pictured alongside wife Amy Sanders) fell short of victory, though many have pegged him as a rising star within the Democrat part
Ted Cruz supporter Marie Rice sheds tears of joy as Cruz declares victory at their election night headquarters
While the Democrats’ grass-roots organisation allowed them to seize the House, Trump’s showmanship and personality thwarted them in key Senate battleground states of Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee – where he held rallies in the closing days of the election.
WHY IS LOSING THE HOUSE SIGNIFICANT?
Losing the House of Representatives will make it more difficult for Trump to govern by making it harder for Republicans to pass laws.
Laws start their life as bills submitted in either the House of Representatives – often shortened to House – or Senate, which makes up the legislative branch of the US government.
Bills must pass a vote in both of those houses before they can become law, giving the Democrats an opportunity to thwart bills they disagree with.
Holding the House also gives Democrats the opportunity to introduce bills on subjects the Republicans would rather not discuss – such as gun control, the environment, or healthcare – and force a debate.
Finally, the House includes several powerful committees which the Democrats now control and could use to probe Trump’s misdeeds.
Russian election meddling, Trump’s tax returns, and security clearances granted to members of the Trump clan could all come under scrutiny.
If a Democrat bill does make it through both the House and Senate it will land with the executive branch – which Trump leads – for approval.
This could force Trump into vetoing legislation he disagrees with, which is something he has not had to do so far.
However, maintaining control of the Senate allows Republicans to hold sway over the third branch of government – the judiciary – which is responsible for enforcing these laws.
The President is responsible for appointing justices, but they must be confirmed by Senators, which is why keeping control here was a key goal.
Senators are also responsible for confirming nominations to Trump’s cabinet, which he will also keep control of after Tuesday.
One of the most bitter defeats for the Democrats came in Texas, where rising star Beto O’Rourke was defeated by incumbent Ted Cruz – a onetime foe of Trump who has since warmed to him – though the contest was closer than anticipated.
In Arizona, Republican Martha McSally looked set to triumph over Kyrsten Sinema as counting stopped early on Wednesday, though the result might not be announced until later in the week.
The seat was left vacant after Jeff Flake, a Republican critic of Trump, announced he was retiring from politics.
Clare McCaskill, a moderate Democrat senator for Missouri, was handed a thumping defeat on Tuesday by Josh Hawley, a Republican who has allied himself to Trump, who won by more than 10 percentage points.
As the dust settled on Wednesday, Democrats standing ready to return next year as chairmen of House Oversight and Judiciary Committees were sharpening their pens and preparing to drag Trump through his own swamp.
‘We probably will’ seek Trump’s tax returns, said Reps. Elijah Cummings and Jerrold Nadler.
As Tuesday headed to Wednesday, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House: ‘I guess they could try.’
‘I don’t know that there will be much of an appetite … for their members to be spending all of their time, or even most of their time, or a fraction of their time investigating, instigating, trying to impeach or subpoena people,’ Conway said.
Nadler said it was ‘way too early’ to talk about impeaching Trump, but wouldn’t rule it out depending on the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s expansive Russia probe.
‘He’s going to learn that he’s not above the law,’ he said, according to CNN.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that ‘the president’s agenda isn’t going to change regardless of whose party is there.’
Democrats will also find themselves empowered to launch probes into voting-rights matters and questions about whether Trump has violated the Constitution’s ‘Emoluments Clause’ that prohibits presidents from receiving income from foreign governments.
Security clearances in the Trump White House could also come under close examination, along with prescription drug prices, family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border, gun control and insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.
As results rolled in from around the country, the Democrats made gains in suburban areas outside of Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Denver that fell to Trump in 2016.
In Florida, Trump’s adopted home state, Ron DeSantis won the race to become state governor, defeating rival Andrew Gillum
Gillum said he regretting not being able to ‘bring it home’ in Florida after he lost the election with 49 per cent to 50 per cent
Speaking alongside his tearful wife, Gillum urged Democrats not to give up the fight in Florida, which was a key battleground state in 2016 that ultimately went to Trump
Republican Marsha Blackburn (left) claimed victory in Tennessee despite an unexpected intervention by pop princess Taylor Swift (right), who urged people to vote for her Democrat rival Phil Bredesen
Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin who ran for President against Trump in 2016 (pictured), lost his race against Democrat Tony Evers
But Trump tightened his grip on support in rural areas and among blue-collar workers. In Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. Andy Barr.
History was working against the president in the Senate: 2002 was the only midterm election in the past three decades when the party holding the White House gained Senate seats.
As the news broke that the Republicans had achieved just that, Trump began retweeting quotes from later night news bulletins praising himself as a ‘magic man’.
Whether voters opposed or supported him, Trump certainly electrified the mid-term contest, which has been a lackluster event under previous administrations with voter turnout struggling to hit 40 per cent.
High turnouts were recorded across the nation on Tuesday following record spending on advertising. Two thirds of those who voted said that Trump was the reason they cast their ballot, either to support or oppose him.
Overall, 6 in 10 voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, but roughly that same number described the national economy as excellent or good.
Twenty-five percent described health care and immigration as the most important issues in the election.
Claire McCaskill (left), the incumbent Democrat in Missouri, lost her Senate seat to Republican challenger Josh Hawley, who attacked her for refusing to nominate Trump’s two Supreme Court picks
Stacey Abrams, who was bidding to become the first female African American governor in American history, has refused to concede a closely-fought contest in Georgia
Abrams’s supporters cheer after learning she was making up ground on opponent Brian Kemp, though the election was still too close to call on Wednesday morning
The night was a record-breaker for women, who now hold more seats in the House than at any point in history. Among them is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old Democrat who has come to embody what Trump brands the ‘far left’
Trump encouraged voters to view the first nationwide election of his presidency as a referendum on his leadership, pointing proudly to the surging economy at recent rallies.
He bet big on a xenophobic closing message, warning of an immigrant ‘invasion’ that promised to spread violent crime and drugs across the nation. Several television networks, including the president’s favorite Fox News Channel, yanked a Trump campaign advertisement off the air on the eve of the election, determining that its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.
The president’s current job approval, set at 40 percent by Gallup, was the lowest at this point of any first-term president in the modern era. Both Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s numbers were 5 points higher, and both suffered major midterm losses of 63 and 54 House seats respectively.
Democrats, whose very relevance in the Trump era depended on winning at least one chamber of Congress, were laser-focused on health care as they predicted victories that would break up the GOP’s monopoly in Washington and state governments.
Yet Trump’s party will maintain Senate control for the next two years, at least.
In Texas, Sen Ted Cruz staved off a tough challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke, whose record-smashing fundraising and celebrity have set off buzz he could be a credible 2020 White House contender.
In Indiana, Trump-backed businessman Mike Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly. In Missouri, Josh Hawley knocked off Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. And in Tennessee, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a top Democratic recruit.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that Trump has no plans to alter his political agenda despite losing the House to the Democrats
Democrat voters in Georgia learn that Stacey Abrams is trailing her Republican opponent, though she has refused to concede
Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, cheers as she declares victory in the governor’s race in Detroit, Michigan, one of the areas which was key to Trump’s victory in 2016
A Democrat supporter puts her head in her hands as she learns that Republicans are projected to hold the Senate
What are the mid-terms and why do they matter?
Mid-term elections come mid-way through a President’s term in office, and typically serve as a referendum on their work so far while shaping how the rest of their term will play out.
The office of President is not on the ballot paper, however, and voters are instead asked to pick candidates for the two houses of government – the House and Senate – and state governor, who acts like a lesser President for their own state.
In the November 2018 mid-terms, all 435 seats in the House and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate were up for election, along with 36 out of 50 state governors.
The Republicans held majorities in both houses before the election, allowing them to pass legislation, nominate judges, and appoint members of Trump’s cabinet unimpeded.
The Democrats were hoping to win back control of both houses in a so-called ‘blue wave’ that would have left Trump a lame duck and made it extremely difficult for him to get anything done in his last two years.
Supporters of Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who was running for the Senate in Texas, wait to hear the result. He ultimately lost the race to incumbent Republican Ted Cruz
As it happened, a divided nation produced a divided result, with Democrats winning back control of the House but Republicans increasing their majority in the Senate.
For Trump, that means the business of governing will become more difficult, with Democrats vowing to frustrate his populist political agenda.
Democrats also gained control of several powerful House committees and have promised to use them to investigate Trump, including a potential subpoena of his tax records.
But any hopes of impeachment, which was whispered about in Democrat circles during the campaign, are firmly off the table since the Senate would be required to find Trump guilty of an impeachable offence – which Republicans will not do.
Good showings for candidates who closely aligned themselves with Trump and his views will also help to quieten his opponents within his own party, and having Democrats in the House could provide a useful scapegoat for failed policies.
While state governors cannot affect Trump’s national agenda in the same way that representatives or senators can, he will rely on them to help enact his policies at a local level – and in these races, Republicans also lost ground.
The Democrats gained seven seats from Republicans, flipping states like Kansas and Michigan where Trump won big in 2016, but lost out in high profile races in Florida and Georgia.
A man dressed as Donald Trump lends his support to Florida governor candidate Ron DeSantis, an ally of the President who ultimately won his election against Democrat Andrew Gillum