Trump, Pelosi talk about getting along - until they don't

Perspectives Greg Valliere

Perspectives Greg Valliere

The Democrats secured major gains in the United States midterm elections on Wednesday, leading to President Donald Trump threatening to fight back if the Democrats launch probes against him.

With winners called in all but one statewide race, Republicans were on pace to gain three seats in the Senate and defended their lead in governorships by a two-seat margin.

Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, a day after Democrats took back the lower chamber, and named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions' chief of staff and a Trump loyalist, as acting attorney general. Next year they will have far more power in USA politics, and the Republicans far less.

"It's all about framing for 2020", said Joel Rubin, who was the State Department's liaison to the House during the Obama administration.

Trump and the top House Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, already have signaled a desire to find common ground.

President Donald Trump urged Democrats on Wednesday to "put partisanship aside" as he bluntly warned them against using their newfound control of the US House of Representatives to tie up his administration in investigations.

They will have authority to request Trump's tax returns and subpoena power to obtain documents, emails and testimony. In the Senate, at least three Democrats were voted out of office on Tuesday: Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Voters in Minnesota and MI elected the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. Congress: Ilhan Omar, a former refugee who fled Somalia's civil war, and Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit-born Palestinian-American. Trump would merely need to defend them, fold them into the White House's message, and convince voters they were an administration priority.

During the campaign, Pelosi urged candidates to focus on lowering health care costs and creating jobs with infrastructure investment, and she tamped down calls for impeachment.

And in a rare moment of practicality, the Republican leader, who is up for re-election in 2020, conceded that one of the GOP's signature efforts - the repeal of "Obamacare" - is all but dead.

In locking down a majority, Democratic candidates flipped seats in several suburban districts outside Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Denver and Dallas that were considered prime targets for turnover because they were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats are alleging that Republicans in Arizona are making an attempt at voter suppression, asserting that uncounted ballots dropped out just before Election Day are likely to favor Sinema.

In fact, the incumbent president's party has lost an average of 37 seats in midterm elections since WWII. More women than ever were running, along with veterans and minorities, many of them motivated by revulsion over Trump. More than 30 million Americans voted early, before November 6, in what experts have called an historic voter turnout. Thus far, 82 of the 94 women elected to the House this year, as well as nine of the 12 elected to the Senate, are Democrats.

The Republican side of the aisle elected mostly white men. The Republican-controlled 115th Congress has only sent a small handful of noncontroversial drug pricing measures to President Trump for a signature.

He denied using a migrant caravan making its way to the USA border through Mexico to whip up fear ahead of Tuesday's election to win votes.

But Republican voter James Gerlock, 27, said he wanted to see more of the soaring economic growth that Trump says is the fruit of his business-friendly policies.

"For Trump to be impeached, the House would have to hold a trial and secure a simple majority vote. Sorry about that, Mia", he said.

Democrats faced a far more hard challenge in the Senate, where they were nearly exclusively on defence in rural states where Trump remains popular.

And outside Richmond, Virginia, one-time tea party favorite Rep. Dave Brat lost to Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative motivated to run for office after the GOP vote to gut the Affordable Care Act. The only people attributing superhuman powers to Trump other than his own partisans are his enemies. Meanwhile, key state-level wins will give Democrats the chance to redraw districts and undo gerrymandering.

Each candidate undeniably faced uphill battles in seats long held by Republicans.

Democrats needed to pick up two dozen seats to seize the House majority and two seats to control the Senate. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) has won another term. "I think it's a reminder that this has to be done so that legally it meets the law and I think that there are some precedents for this".

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