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Washington Diary: Royal Turf War between Donald Trump and President Barack Obama

"Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" wrote Trump. "As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th"

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Donald Trump and Barack Obama at White House. VOA
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Washington, December 31, 2016: One country, one flag and one President. Then there is the President-elect. One thinks “Yes, we (still) can.” The other can’t wait to undo it before his date with destiny — January 20.

Twenty days before Donald Trump gets the keys of the White House, sparks are flying in a right royal turf war between him and its first black tenant, Barack Obama.

Call it a desire to save his legacy or pique over the stunning defeat of his chosen successor, Hillary Clinton, Obama is trying to erect “roadblocks”, as the mogul sees them, on issues ranging from environment to ties with Israel and Russia.

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To “punish” Russia in what American spooks branded operation “Grizzly Steppe” to help Trump in the presidential poll, Obama expelled 35 Russian “spies” and closed two Russian recreation compounds.

For their “malicious cyber activity,” and phishing expeditions, Russians allegedly used several outlandish secret code names like “Seadaddy,” “Hammertoss,” “Energetic Bear,” “Fancy Bear and “Carberp.”

Ever sceptical of the spooks’ finding that the Russians had hacked into Democratic Party and the rival Clinton campaign chief’s emails, Trump was not impressed. The country needs to “move on to bigger and better things,” he responded with atypical restraint.

“Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people,” Trump agreed to meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week “to be updated about the facts of this situation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin too did not take the bait. Declining “to create problems for American diplomats” in a deft political move, he instead invited children of US diplomats to celebrate the New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas at the Kremlin.

Breaking rank with his own Republican Party leaders, Trump, who wants to mend fences with Moscow called Putin “very smart!” for his “great move on delay” in responding to the ‘lame duck’ Obama administration’s provocation.

Earlier, as the US abstained on a UN resolution condemning Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a livid Trump tweeted: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”

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“Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” wrote Trump. “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

“Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!” Trump complained in another tweet.

But what really got the mogul’s goat was Obama’s claim that he would have defeated Trump if he was allowed to run for a third term.

“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY!” Trump responded though Obama’s criticism appeared directed more at Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton performed wonderfully,” but sure of victory, she “played it safe,” and missed opportunities to present a narrative that would have appealed to voters, Obama suggested.

But loathe to give up a good fight, Trump doubled down saying, “Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost. The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!””The world was gloomy before I won – there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars!” he tweeted.

Taking yet another jab at Obama, the mogul thanked himself as “the US Consumer Confidence Index surged. to its HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!”

Obama may or may not have won in a presidential contest against Trump, but he bested the billionaire 22 percent to 15 percent in a Gallup poll to retain his title as America’s most admired man for the ninth year.

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And Hillary Clinton might have lost the race for the White House, but for the 15th year in a row, she was America’s most admired woman – a title she has won a record 21 times.

Another AP-Times Square Alliance poll found that Democrats were more likely to say 2016 was worse for them with a Miami University professor using just three words to explain why: “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

But having won the poll that mattered, Trump did not fire a tweet to contest either poll or call them rigged as winners and losers of 2016 mulled what it could be and what 2017 would be. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Negotiates Trade Deal With Japan

Trump to negotiate the trade deal with Japan

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Donald Trump is the President of U.S.
FILE IMAGE- Donald Trump

The US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday he is negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Japan and that his country would only re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if its member countries offered him a deal he could not refuse.

“I don’t want to go back into TPP. But if they offered us a deal I can’t refuse on behalf of the US, I would do it. In the meantime, we are negotiating, and what I really would prefer is negotiating a one-on-one deal with Japan,” Donald Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

However, Abe stressed his country’s position towards the TPP, saying that it “is the best for both countries,” although he acknowledged the US’s interest in a bilateral trade deal, Efe reported.

Trump said that should his country reach a trade agreement with Japan, there will be talks about the possibility of ending tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that Washington introduced in March to a number of countries, including Japan.

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump added that his primary concern at the moment is the “massive” trade deficit with Japan, which amounted to “from $69 billion to $100 billion a year.”

In fact, the trade deficit with Japan last year stood at $69 billion, far from the $100 billion that the US President claimed, according to the official figures by the US Department of Commerce.

The two leaders made these announcements in a joint press conference at the tycoon’s private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where Abe arrived on Tuesday to have meeting with Trump on his four-day visit to the US.

Also Read: China And Russia Accused of Manipulating Their Currencies By Trump

Last week, the White House announced that Trump had asked the US foreign trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the economic adviser Larry Kudlow to “take another look at whether or not a better deal (with the TPP) could be negotiated.”

However, Trump has shown little interest in negotiations that would further complicate the matter, since the other 11 countries that negotiated the original TPP, with the then Barack Obama administration, have already signed their own multilateral deal, the so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), or TPP-11.

Shinzo Abe
FILE IMAGE- Shinzo Abe.

On the other hand, during this four-day visit Abe has a special interest in getting an exemption for Japan from the 10 per cent and 25 per cent tariffs that the Trump administration imposes on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.

Trump has granted a temporary exemption until May 1 to Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the European Union.

Also Read: White House Denies Any Direct Talks Yet Between Trump And Kim

Japan has been left out of the exempted countries despite being one of the US’s major allies, and for that reason Abe is trying to make use of his visit to secure a place on that list, although Japan barely produces aluminum and the amount of steel exported to the US stands at only around 5 percent of its total steel exports.  IANS