Washington, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Facing the prospect of bruising electoral defeat in congressional elections, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he won't accept the blame if his party loses control of the House in November, arguing his campaigning and endorsements have helped Republican candidates.
In a wide-ranging interview three weeks before Election Day, Trump told The Associated Press he senses voter enthusiasm rivaling 2016 and he expressed cautious optimism that his most loyal supporters will vote even when he is not on the ballot. He dismissed suggestions that he might take responsibility, as his predecessor did, for midterm losses or view the outcome as a referendum on his presidency.
"No, I think I'm helping people," Trump said. "I don't believe anybody has ever had this kind of impact."
Trump spoke on a range of subjects, defending Saudi Arabia from growing condemnation over the case of a missing journalist, accusing his longtime attorney Michael Cohen of lying under oath and flashing defiance when asked about the insult — "Horseface" — he hurled at Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who accuses him of lying about an affair.
Asked if it was appropriate to insult a woman's appearance, Trump responded, "You can take it any way you want."
Throughout much of the nearly 40-minute interview, he sat, arms crossed, in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk, flanked by top aides, including White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and communications director Bill Shine. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway listened from a nearby sofa.
The interview came as Trump's administration was being urged to pressure Saudi Arabia to account for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead, Trump offered a defense for the U.S. ally, warning against a rush to judgment, like with what happened with his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault.
"Well, I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump said. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh. And he was innocent all the way."
Weeks away from the midterms, Democrats are hopeful about their chances to recapture the House, while Republicans are increasingly confident they can hold control of the Senate.
Trump has been campaigning aggressively in a blitz of rallies aimed at firing up his base. He said he believes he's doing his job, but allowed he has heard from some of his supporters who say they may not vote this November.
"I'm not running. I mean, there are many people that have said to me, 'I will never, ever go and vote in the midterms because you're not running and I don't think you like Congress.'" He added: "Well, I do like Congress."
If Democrats take the House and pursue impeachment or investigations — including seeking his long-hidden tax returns— Trump said he will "handle it very well."
The president declared he was unconcerned about other potential threats to his presidency. He accused Cohen of lying when testifying under oath that the president coordinated on a hush-money scheme to buy Daniels' silence.
Trump on Tuesday declared the allegation "totally false." But in entering a plea deal with Cohen in August, federal prosecutors signaled that they accepted his recitation of facts and account of what occurred.
Trump said that Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone will serve as his next White House counsel and that he hoped to announce a replacement for U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the next week or two. He again repeated his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the special counsel investigation, saying, "I can fire him whenever I want to fire him, but I haven't said that I was going to."
On the ongoing Russia investigation, Trump defended his son Donald Trump Jr. for a Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump called his son a "good young guy" and said he did what any political aide would have done.
Trump again cast doubt on climate change, suggesting, incorrectly, that the scientific community was evenly split on the existence of climate change and its causes. There are "scientists on both sides of the issue," Trump said.
"But what I'm not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows," Trump said.
He added: "I have a natural instinct for science and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture."
Asked about his wartime leadership, Trump acknowledged that he has not brought U.S. troops home from conflict zones overseas and that there are more Americans serving in harm's way now than when he took office.
"It's not a lot more. It's a little bit more," he said.
Saying he's trying to preserve "safety at home," Trump added that if there are areas where people are threatening the U.S., "I'm going to have troops there for a period of time."
Trump increased U.S. troop totals in Afghanistan by about 4,000 last year.
The president engaged on several other topics, including:
— He said he has given no consideration to pardoning Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who was convicted of numerous financial crimes.
— He suggested that his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would happen after next month's midterm elections and would likely not be in the United States.
— He broke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed changes to entitlement programs like Social Security to control the deficit.
— And he defended his decision to break from his predecessors and not yet visit a military base in a combat zone, claiming it was not "overly necessary."
Repeatedly stressing what he saw as the achievements of his first two years, Trump said he'd be seeking another term because there was "always more work to do."
"The new model is Keep America Great," Trump said. "I don't want someone destroying it because I can do a great job, but the wrong person coming in after me sitting right at this desk could destroy it very quickly if they don't do the right thing. So no, I'm definitely running."
Sidi Bouknadel, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — At least seven people died and nearly 80 were injured after a shuttle train linking the Moroccan capital to a town farther north on the Atlantic coast derailed Tuesday, authorities at the accident site said.
The train derailed about halfway between Rabat and the town of Kenitra, near the city of Sale. Tangled in the wreckage were doors and seats that had been gouged out of place, while passengers' belongings and glass from broken windows littered the accident site.
Emergency workers rushed people to hospitals in Rabat, Sale and Kenitra while rescue teams searched for more victims with the help of cadaver dogs. Military personnel guarded the site as railway workers and authorities started to investigate why the train jumped its tracks.
Local residents were the first to reach the scene in the town of Sidi Bouknadel, helping injured or trapped survivors out of mangled train cars and covering the bodies of the dead. They reported the accident happened at around 9:30 a.m.
"We heard a gigantic explosion. The earth shook and the sound was unbearable," Mourad El Kbiri, who owns a cafe near where the train derailed, told The Associated Press. "I rushed to see what happened. It was horrific. Disfigured bodies all over the place, blood and body pieces."
The Center for Blood Immunization declared a state of emergency and dispatched blood collection vehicles to Rabat, Kenitra, Sale and Sidi Bouknadel to receive donors.
The general director of state-owned railway company ONCF, Mohamed Rabie Khlie, and Morocco's interior and transport ministers visited the accident site briefly but refused to comment.
The Moroccan king, Mohammed VI, offered to pay the costs of victims' funerals out of his own pocket, state news agency MAP reported.
London, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction Tuesday for "Milkman," a vibrant, violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland's years of Catholic-Protestant violence.
Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000-pound ($66,000) prize, which is open to English-language authors from around the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.
The 56-year-old Belfast-born novelist said she was "stunned" to have won. Burns said her books took a long time to complete, and she has often struggled financially since her first novel, "No Bones," was released in 2001.
"I just wait for my characters to come and tell me their stories, and I can't write until they do," Burns told reporters. "Also, as with a lot of writers, they don't earn much money. So that gets in the way of the creativity."
Burns said that with her prize money, "I will clear my debts and live on what's left."
The writer said the germ of "Milkman" came to her in the image of a teenage girl walking down a street in a divided city while reading the novel "Ivanhoe."
"Milkman" is narrated by a bookish young woman dealing with an older man who uses family ties, social pressure and political loyalties as weapons of sexual coercion and harassment. It is set in the 1970s, but was published amid the global eruption of sexual misconduct allegations that sparked the "Me Too" movement.
"I think this novel will help people to think about 'Me Too,' and I like novels that help people think about current movements and challenges," said philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the judging panel. "But we think it'll last — it's not just about something that's going on in this moment.
"I think it's a very powerful novel about the damage and danger of rumor," he added,
Burns beat five other novelists, including the bookies' favorites: American writer Richard Powers' tree-centric eco-epic "The Overstory" and Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan's "Washington Black," the story of a slave who escapes from a sugar plantation in a hot-air balloon.
The other finalists were U.S. novelist Rachel Kushner's "The Mars Room," set in a women's prison; Robin Robertson's "The Long Take," a verse novel about a traumatized D-Day veteran; and 27-year-old British author Daisy Johnson's Greek tragedy-inspired family saga "Everything Under."
Founded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Americans have been eligible since 2014, and there have been two American winners — Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" in 2016 and George Saunders' "Lincoln in the Bardo" in 2017.
A third consecutive American victor would have revived fears among some U.K. writers and publishers that the prize is becoming too U.S.-centric. But Appiah said neither the nationality nor the gender of the authors was a factor in the judges' deliberations on the shortlist of four female authors and two men.
"If we had been drifting towards thinking that one of the men on the list was the best one, I wouldn't have said 'No guys, we're going to get in trouble for this' any more than if we'd been drifting towards an American," he said. "We picked the one ... most deserving of the prize."
The Man Booker has a reputation for transforming writers' careers, and the one who will emerge from the field to beat other finalists is always subject to intense speculation and lively betting. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Arundhati Roy and Hilary Mantel.
It's likely to bring a big boost to Burns, who has published two previous novels, but is hardly a household name.
"Milkman" appears on the printed page with few paragraph marks, which has led some to label it experimental and challenging. But Appiah said the vivid, distinctive Belfast language in Burns' book was "really worth savoring."
"If you're having difficulty, try reading it out loud," he said. "The pleasure of it really has to do with the way that it sounds.
"It's challenging in the way a walk up (mount) Snowdon is challenging. It's definitely worth it, because the view is terrific when you get to the top."
Dhaka, Oct 16 (UNB) - The Congress had set up a three-member committee to look into the issue after a woman levelled charges of sexual harassment against the chief of its youth wing.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accepted the resignation of NSUI national president Fairoz Khan after charges of sexual harassment surfaced against him, PTI quoted Congress sources as saying, reports The Indian Express.
Khan, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, resigned from the post of the Congress student wing president on Monday after a woman Congress worker from Chhattisgarh levelled charges of sexual harassment against him amid the ongoing #MeToo movement.
The party had set up a three-member committee to look into the issue. Khan, while denying the charges on him, said the allegations are hurting the party’s image and hence he would like to step down from the post.
The woman had first complained against Khan in June. She had met Rahul Gandhi and other senior members of the party, demanding strict action against the youth wing president. She had also accused Khan of sexually harassing her sister and some other women from the party. She also lodged a complaint against him in the Parliament Street police station, saying that she feared for her life.
The allegations on Khan have come at a time when Congress is actively seeking the Centre’s response to sexual harassment allegations over Union minister MJ Akbar. The opposition party has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for keeping quiet about the allegations against Akbar and has demanded the latter’s resignation.
Kabul, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — An Afghan official says a Taliban attack on a security outpost in northern Samangan province has killed seven policemen, including a deputy provincial police chief.
The provincial governor, Abdul Latif Ibrahimi, says the attack occurred late on Monday in Dari Suf district.
Ibrahimi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that another five policemen were wounded in the attack. He says the attackers made away with two armored personnel carriers, a police vehicle and an ambulance.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but in recent months, the Taliban have staged near-daily attacks on Afghan forces across the country.
On Saturday night, the Taliban attacked an army base in western Afghanistan, killing 17 Afghan soldiers and abducting 11. They also overran two checkpoints near the base, seizing weapons and ammunition.