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Trump: U.S. will counteract any Russian election meddling in ’18

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pushed Tuesday for paper ballots in upcoming U.S. elections for security reasons, and said the country was ready for any Russian attempts to meddle in the midterm elections.

“We’ll counteract whatever they do, we’ll counteract it very strongly and we are having strong background systems,” he said at a White House news conference with Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven. “We haven’t been given credit for this, but we’ve actually been working very hard on the ’18 election and the ’20 election coming up.”

But beyond making the case for backup ballot systems — “it’s called paper, not highly complex computers, paper” — Trump’s suggestions on combating future Russian meddling have been rare and short on specifics.

Though the president has agreed with intelligence assessments that lay the blame on the Kremlin for meddling efforts in the 2016 presidential election, he still maintains other countries could have also been responsible and said again Tuesday that meddling efforts did not affect any votes in 2016.

Questions about Russian meddling and alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin were only part of the latest maelstrom engulfing the Trump administration — plagued by infighting on newly announced tariffs on steel and aluminum while a steady stream of top aides continue to depart Trump’s service.

Trump previewed more staffing changes to come, but demurred Tuesday when asked for specifics on who could be involved in the next staff shuffle.

“Believe me,” Trump said, “everybody wants to work in the White House. They all want a piece of that Oval Office, they all want a piece of the West Wing, and not only in terms of it looks great on their resume, but it’s a great place to work.”

But, said Trump, it’s also tough. “I like conflict, I like having two people with two different points of view, and I certainly have that, and then I make a decision,” the president said, in a week that’s featured coverage of the competing tariff views of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “I like watching it, I like seeing it and I think it’s the best way to go.”

Faced with the prospect of a global trade war, Trump seemed unfazed, reasoning that “when we’re behind every single country, trade wars aren’t so bad.”

“The trade war hurts them,” Trump said, it “doesn’t hurt us.” The tariffs, however, would be imposed in “a very loving way,” he said.

Löfven — who warned Tuesday that tariffs would “hurt us all in the long run” — shuffled papers on his lectern as he listened to his counterparts’ remarks that the European Union could “do whatever they’d like” in retaliation to his announced tariffs.

“If they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars. Believe me, they won’t be doing it very long,” Trump said. He called the U.S. trade relationship with the E.U. “very, very unfair.”

Trump also expressed optimism on recent developments out of the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea signaled it was open to talks with the United States, during which time the regime said it would suspend its nuclear tests.

The president said he believed overtures from Pyongyang were “sincere,” attributing them to “very, very strong” sanctions and increased pressure from China.

In a meeting before the joint news conference, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that North Korea was “acting positively, but we’re going to see” if that holds.

“I want to see what happens,” Trump said noting that progress — “at least rhetorically” — had been made with North Korea and if talks could halt the DPRK’s continued nuclear march “it would be great thing for the world … for North Korea … for the peninsula.”

Asked if he would talk with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump told reporters “we’ll see.”

The door to “candid talks” between North Korea and the U.S. opened Tuesday after South Korean officials returned from meetings in Pyongyang. The regime also said it was willing to suspend nuclear tests during these talks.

Trump has previously left all options on the table in dealing with North Korean provocations, including vague but tension-raising warnings that the alternative to peace could be devastating to the regime.

After leveling what he called the “heaviest sanctions ever” against Pyongyang last month, Trump said “if the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two.”

“Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work,” he told reporters at the White House at the time.

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U.S. has administered over 309 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, CDC says

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The United States had administered 309,322,545 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and distributed 374,398,105 doses in the country as of Sunday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Those figures were up from the 308,112,728 doses of vaccine that the CDC said had been administered as of Saturday, out of 374,397,205 doses delivered.

The agency said 173,840,483 people in the United States had received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 143,921,222 people were fully vaccinated as of 6 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The CDC tally includes the two-dose vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech/ as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

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Nigel Farage SHOULD be honoured for 'services to EU exit' – 'He's the man of the Century!'

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DOZENS of influential figures have been rewarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for their services to Brexit – but one former MEP has pointed out that Nigel Farage has been excluded.

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Queen Elizabeth II hosts Bidens at Windsor Castle

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LONDON — They met Friday at the Group of Seven summit, but President Joe Biden and the first lady had an altogether more private meeting with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday, at her home in Windsor Castle.

The monarch, 95, received the Bidens for tea at her historic residence, about 30 miles west of London. On arrival they were greeted with an official Guard of Honor military parade, which gave a royal salute and played the American national anthem.

Biden stood next to the queen in the sunshine, wearing his aviator sunglasses, before inspecting the troops in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle, last seen on television during the somber funeral ceremony of her husband, Prince Philip, who died aged 99 in April.

The queen has stoically continued with her official duties since then and met Biden alongside other world leaders and their spouses on Friday at the G-7 summit, by the seaside in Cornwall, southwest England.

There, she amused leaders when she quipped during a photo-call: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourselves?”

Biden first met the queen in 1982 as a Democratic senator for Delaware but this time he joined her as president. He is the 13th serving president the monarch has met. She has met every serving American president since Dwight Eisenhower — except Lyndon Johnson who did not travel to Britain while in office.

As a 25-year-old princess in 1951, she also stayed with President Harry S. Truman and his family in Washington, D.C.

The queen has hosted four other American presidents at Windsor Castle in recent years, including former-President Donald Trump in 2018, who shocked press and palace pundits when he breached royal protocol by walking ahead of the queen, at times blocking her view and giving her his back.

After a state visit in 2019, Trump told Fox News: “There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time.”

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On arrival to England last week, first lady Jill Biden told reporters that meeting the queen was “an exciting part of the visit for us.”

She also undertook a separate engagement with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when the two visited a school on Friday.

Kate told NBC News during the visit that she was looking forward to meeting her new niece, Lilibet Diana, born in California earlier this month.

Britain’s royal family have had a turbulent year in the public eye following a bombshell interview given by the queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

The couple stunned viewers with allegations of royal racism — denied by the palace — while Meghan also spoke publicly about how royal life and media pressure had taken its toll on her mental health.

After taking private afternoon tea with the queen on Sunday, Biden will then travel to nearby Brussels for a NATO summit, before heading to Switzerland on Wednesday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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