Trump news live: Latest updates as president’s rally labels Fox News ‘traitors’ for election call

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania

Donald Trump has been criticised for hosting a “deranged” rally in Georgia on Saturday, at which thousands of attendees were pictured not wearing face masks  or adhering to social distancing measures.

At the event, the outgoing president appeared to publicly acknowledge that his time in the White House was over. He was speaking to encourage his followers to vote for senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, although he mostly spoke about what his administration would have done over the next four years – seeming to acknowledge that his time in power is over.

Mr Trump’s supporters gave Fox News’ correspondent a hostile reception at the rally, after the network fell out of favour with Mr Trump when it called the election in Joe Biden’s favour last month.

Supporters of the president chanted and rebuked Fox News’ Griff Jenkins as they stood in line to see Mr Trump speak at the event in Valdosta, Georgia on Saturday. Sky News producer Sarah Gough said “Fox News journalists are getting the most abuse from the crowd lining up for Trump’s rally in Valdosta, Georgia. Cries of ‘we trusted you’ and ‘traitors’.”

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Critics slam Trump for non-Covid friendly rally

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 15:20

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Biden to meet with vaccine adviser Slaoui this week

The chief adviser for US efforts on coronavirus vaccines said on Sunday he planned to meet with Joe Biden this week to discuss coronavirus vaccines as they are expected to be rolled out to the first Americans later this month.

Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed chief adviser, said he has not yet met with Mr Biden, who has criticised the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution plan.

“We really look forward to it because actually things have been really very appropriately planned,” Slaoui said in an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation.

Mr Biden said on Friday his team had not seen a detailed plan from the Trump administration to distribute vaccine to various states.

“There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm,” Mr Biden said.

He said the distribution process for the vaccines, which need to be stored at very low temperatures, is difficult and expensive. “There’s a lot more that has to be done.”

Mr Slaoui said part of the confusion may be that the government’s plan relies on state health agencies to deliver the vaccine

“But there are videos, there are explanations exactly how to go about it. We plan to have all the ancillary materials the syringes, the needles, the swabs,” Slaoui said.

“I think the plans are there and I feel confident that once we will explain it, everything in detail. I hope the new transition team will understand that things are well planned.”

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 15:00

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Turns out Donald Trump’s star witness at the Michigan hearing has previously been charged with obscenity.

Harriet Alexander has more…

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 14:11

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Georgia Senate race heats up as Democrats bid to have majority

Georgia’s Senate race has drawn strong interest, as Democrat Raphael Warnock tries to take current incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler’s seat. The two are set to  meet in a debate on Sunday, which is the only head-to-head currently scheduled for the two opponents. 

The other Senate seat still undecided is between Georgia Republican senator David Perdue, who has declined to meet Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in additional debates after the two jousted twice before the general election. Mr Ossoff will get a solo platform on Sunday to make his case.

The runoffs will determine which party controls the US Senate, prompting a huge wave of money and organising effort trying to get Georgians to vote again on or before 5 January. The state’s voters cast a narrow majority of ballots for Joe Biden in November, but Mr Perdue outran Donald Trump while Mr Ossoff trailed Biden.

Republicans currently hold a 50-48 edge in the Senate, but if Democrats win both races, Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote in the Biden administration, giving Democrats control. Republicans will retain their current majority even if they win only one of the two races.

In both races, a runoff is required under Georgia state law because no candidate reached 50 per cent in November. Mr Perdue fell just short of defeating Mr Ossoff because a Libertarian candidate won a small slice of the vote, while Mr Warnock led Ms Loeffler in a 20-way field in which no candidate came close to 50 per cent.

The Republicans are attacking their Democratic opponents as socialists and radicals, saying giving control to the party would lead to unacceptable consequences. Democrats are attacking the stock trading activity of Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler, saying it proves the two are rich people who care more for their own pocketbooks than for people suffering from the Covid pandemic.

Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue rallied on Saturday in Valdosta with Mr Trump, who came to the state to support the candidates despite continuing questions over whether Mr Trump’s unproven attacks on Georgia’s presidential balloting will cause some of his Republican supporters to shy away from voting in the runoffs.

Ms Loeffler and Mr Perdue rallied on Friday in Savannah with Mike Pence while Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff held a virtual rally on Friday with former president Barack Obama.

(Getty Images)

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 13:55

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Iran prepares to raise oil exports if US sanctions ease

Iran has instructed its oil ministry to prepare installations for production and sale of crude oil at full capacity within three months, state media reported on Sunday, ahead of a possible easing of US sanctions after Joe Biden takes office.

The country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said Iran exported more than two million barrels a day before Donald Trump exited the 2015 nuclear deal with six powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have hit Iran’s economy hard by sharply cutting its vital oil exports.

Mr Biden, who will take office in January, has said that he would return to the pact and would lift sanctions if Tehran returned to “strict compliance with the nuclear deal”.

Mr Rouhani said on Sunday that his country was preparing for a speedy increase of its oil production, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“The Oil Ministry will take all the necessary steps to prepare the oil industry’s facilities to produce and sell – proportionate to the available capacity – within the next three months,” IRNA quoted Mr Rouhani as saying.

It is estimated that Iran exports less than 300,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), compared to a peak of 2.8 million bpd in 2018.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 12:40

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Trump claims to be the ‘only one’ who likes cucumbers

Donald Trump claimed that he is “the only one” who “likes cucumbers” during a rambling speech in Georgia ahead of January’s runoff Senate elections.

In a bizarre 90-minute speech in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday evening, the US president attacked officials who certified the state for Joe Biden and falsely claimed that there had been widespread voter fraud.

After segueing between various topics, Mr Trump told the crowd at the rally: “Blueberries, peppers, squash and cucumbers. Who does cucumbers around here?” He added, as the crowd cheered: “Because I like cucumbers. I’m the only one. I like cucumbers.”

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 12:11

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Trump endorses election fraud claims

Donald Trump has shared tweets endorsing alleged election fraud that supposedly took place in Michigan.

At a hearing, a woman called Melissa Carone claimed “the whole 27 hours” she was in one of the state’s voting centres, there was “election fraud” going on. 

Mr Trump retweeted a clip of the hearing and said: “Melissa is great!”

The claims being made in regards to unlawful vote counting remain unsubstantiated. 

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 11:42

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Trump ‘wishes love’ to Covid victims before taking credit for vaccine – again

At a rally on Saturday, Donald Trump expressed sympathy for the more than 14 million Americans who have struggled with coronavirus – before wrongly taking credit for the Pfizer Covid vaccine that has been developed in the US. 

“Vaccines are on their way at a level that nobody ever thought was possible,” Mr Trump told a chanting crowd, before adding: “It would have taken another administration five years.”

The current president – and vice president Mike Pence – previously took credit for the Pfizer vaccine when it was announced last month that it was 95 per cent effective. He also claimed the announcement of the jab had been purposely held back until after the election, in a thinly veiled attack on Joe Biden and the FDA. 

Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, swiftly spoke out to rebuke the claims, saying the news had “nothing to do with politics”. 

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 10:59

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Rally shouts at ‘traitors’ Fox News for calling Biden as president

Fox News has fallen out of favour with both Donald Trump and his supporters, with attendees at the Trump Victory rally in Georgia giving the network’s correspondent a hostile reception.

Supporters of the president chanted and rebuked Fox News’ Griff Jenkins as they stood in line to see Mr Trump speak at the event in Valdosta, Georgia on Saturday.

The confrontation was caught on video by Sky News producer Sarah Gough, who posted footage of members of the crowd confronting the reporter from behind a police tape line. She said “Fox News journalists are getting the most abuse from the crowd lining up for Trump’s rally in Valdosta, Georgia. Cries of ‘we trusted you’ and ‘traitors’.”

Oliver O’Connell, again, has the full story:

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 10:42

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Trump admits time is up as he turns Georgia senate speech into rally

Donald Trump claimed multiple times that he won the state of Georgia at a rally for the Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs, while also seeming to admit his own defeat in the presidential election.

In meandering remarks borrowing many talking points from his campaign stump speech, the president occasionally slipped into speaking about what his administration would have done over the next four years – seeming to acknowledge that his time in power is over, reports Oliver O’Connell:

Sam Hancock6 December 2020 10:36

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