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Trump reaches out, then threatens Democrats after losing House

Zach Gibson, Getty Images North America/AFP | The US Capitol building pictured on November 7, 2018.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday took credit for his party’s gains in the midterm elections and offered to work across party lines. But he also vowed to put up a fight on Russia investigation attempts by the Democrats.

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Hailing his party’s performance in Tuesday’s midterm election results as "an incredible day" when the Republicans “defied history,” Trump said the results proved that “people like me, I think people like the job I’m doing.”

Speaking at a wide-ranging White House press conference, Trump, by turns combative and conciliatory, said Democrats and Republicans should set aside partisanship to work together.

Some House Democrats have threatened to use the subpoena power they will gain in January to investigate Trump and his administration's actions. But, he warned, he will respond in kind and government will suffer.

“They can play that game, but we can play better because we have a thing called the United States Senate and a lot of questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place,” he said.

Plus, he said, Democrats have "nothing, zero," on him.

Of the special counsel's Russia investigation that has shadowed his administration for more than 18 months, Trump said, "I could end it right now" but "I let it go on."

Wednesday’s press conference came a day after Republicans lost control of the House, but extended their gains in the Senate after a divisive campaign.

‘A beautiful bipartisan situation’

At the press conference, Trump praised Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who may become the next speaker of the House and said it was possible to build “a beautiful bipartisan situation". But he warned there would not be much common ground if Democrats press investigations. "You can't do it simultaneously," he said.

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 divided power in Congress combined with Trump's expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarisation and legislative gridlock in Washington.

The Democrats will now head House committees that can investigate the president's tax returns, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUPTERS)

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