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More GOP challengers line up against Trump, more states cancel their primaries

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump now has three GOP primary challengers, but they won’t be given a chance to compete in at least four states after Republicans there decided to scrap their presidential nominating contests in favor of supporting Trump.

The Republican parties of Nevada and South Carolina, both crucial early nominating states, voted this weekend not to hold contests, as did Kansas and Arizona.

“With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement. “President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinians, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020.”

South Carolina’s move is an attempt to sideline the state’s former Republican governor, Mark Sanford, who on Sunday declared his intention to challenge the president in the GOP primary. Also in the running against Trump are former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Trump was asked Monday if he would debate any of his Republican rivals.

“I don’t know them,” the president responded. “I would say this: They are all at less than 1 percent. I guess it’s a publicity stunt. We just got a little while ago (a poll showing) 94 percent popularity or approval within the Republican party. So to be honest, I’m not looking to get them any credibility. They have no credibility.”

He added, “One was a person that voted for Obama, ran as a vice president four years ago and was soundly defeated, another one got thrown out after one term in Congress and he lost in a landslide and the third one — Mr. Appalachian trail — he wasn’t on the Appalachian trial; he was in Argentina.”

Sanford, a conservative who clashed with Trump when he served in Congress, said on MSNBC on Monday that he’s running because Republicans have turned their back on their values in favor of personal allegiance to Trump.

“Right now, the sun, moon and stars too often basically orbit around Donald Trump,” Sanford said of the attitude of the GOP. “And if it’s not personal allegiance to him, not issue allegiance or idea allegiance, but if it’s not personal allegiance, it’s not good enough.”

Sanford said he would consider legal or other challenges to South Carolina GOP’s action, but acknowledged his entire campaign is an uphill battle against the incumbent.

Trump fired back at Sanford by bringing up his much-publicized infidelity scandal and knocked “The Three Stooges” running against him as a “all badly failed candidates.”

Republicans pushed back on the idea that there was anything unusual about the state parties’ decisions to scrap primaries and caucuses, noting that both parties have made similar moves when they have incumbent presidents up for re-election.

“These are decisions made entirely by state parties, and there are volumes of historical precedents to support them,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “Nevertheless, President Trump will dominate and prevail in whatever contest is placed before him.”

But in most recent cases that the Trump campaign cited, such as Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, there was no declared primary challenger to the incumbent. In contrast, Trump now has three rivals who have served in the top-levels of elective office.

In Nevada, the state’s GOP at a convention Saturday also decided to forgo their caucus, which typically comes right after Iowa and New Hampshire in the nominating calendar.

“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte,” Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald said in a statement, referring to the city where the Republican National Convention will be held next year.

Kansas’ GOP also came to the same decision on Friday.

“The Kansas Republican Party will not organize a Caucus for the 2020 election because President Donald Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party,” the party announced on Twitter.

The state party estimated it would cost $250,000 to hold the presidential caucus and said the money could be better spent on contesting tough races.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Kelli Ward made a similar argument after his party also voted this weekend to nix their primary.

“This is nothing new, despite the media’s inauthentic attempt to portray it as such,” Ward said, referring to other times parties with incumbent presidents have forgone primaries. “Arizona Republicans are fired up to re-elect President Trump to a second term and will continue to work together to keep America — and Arizona — great.”

More states could follow as they set their presidential nominating plans for the future.

But Iowa and New Hampshire, the two most important states in the nominating process, are planning to go ahead with their contests.

Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told Radio Iowa that state party leaders have “never considered” canceling their famed caucus.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, meanwhile, is governed by state law, not the parties, so “there wouldn’t an option for New Hampshire to cancel,” Joe Sweeney, the communications director for the state party told NBC News.



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Hillary Clinton attacks 'authoritarian leader' Boris before saying she ‘fears' for Brits

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HILLARY CLINTON blasted Boris Johnson as an “authoritarian leader” in a shocking attack as she claimed she “fears” for the UK.

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‘Of course’ Trump was wrong to ask China to probe Bidens

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Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that it was wrong for President Donald Trump to call on China to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in the Texas Republican’s most direct rebuke of the president yet.

Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether Trump’s comments were “appropriate,” Cruz said “of course not.”

“Elections in the U.S. should be decided by Americans and it’s not the business of foreign countries, any foreign countries, to be interfering in our elections,” he said.

“Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan then asked if it was improper for Trump to ask Ukraine to probe the Bidens, as he did in a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — a call that is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

“Listen, foreign countries should stay out of American elections,” Cruz said. “That’s true for Russia. That’s true for Ukraine. That’s true for China. That’s true for all of them. It should be the American people deciding elections. I don’t know what [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has] been saying. I do know though that we should decide our elections. It should be the American people making those decisions.”

But Cruz added that it would make “sense” for Giuliani, who is at the center of the president’s campaign to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has already invited Giuliani to do so.

“I’d like to see Rudy testify,” Cruz said. “Yes.”

Cruz’s comments come as Republicans have struggled to align on their responses to Trump’s requests to have Chinese and Ukrainian officials investigate the former vice president and his son. Some Republicans defended Trump’s China remarks by saying the president wasn’t “serious” despite Trump never having indicated he was joking.

Asked Thursday about whether he was serious about calling on China to investigate the Bidens, Trump said, “China has to do whatever they want.”

“If they want to look into something, they can look into it,” the president continued. “If they don’t want to look into it, they don’t have to. Frankly, are far as I’m concerned, if China wants to look into something, I think that’s great. And if they don’t want to, I think that’s great too. That’s up to China.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he “can’t comment” on whether Trump was serious in his ask to have China investigate the Biden family.

“I can’t comment on whether he was serious or not,” Mnuchin said, adding that the topic had not been brought up in trade negotiations between the two countries. “And in the Oval Office, when the president was asked about this in front of the Vice Premier, the president made very clear, they can do what they want. So, again, people who are trying to imply that the president is asking for things or quid pro quos, I think this is ridiculous.”

The president began ramping up his push to have China probe Hunter’s business dealings this month in the face of House Democrats’ rapidly escalating impeachment probe.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House earlier this month.

The president has repeatedly accused the former vice president’s son of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started. There has been no evidence of corruption on behalf of either Biden. The Washington Post found Trump’s claims false. And a spokesman for Hunter Biden said he did not acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office. Meanwhile, Hunter’s total capitalization from the fund at the time amounted to about $4.2 million, not the $1.5 billion Trump alleged.

On Sunday, Hunter announced through his attorney that he would step down from the Chinese-backed firm by the end of the month. Hunter’s attorney, George Mesires, wrote that the former vice president’s son “never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States.”



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Brexit countdown: EU gives Boris 48 HOURS to strike deal – 'Significant work to be done'

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BORIS JOHNSON has been given a tight deadline of only 48 hours to secure an agreement with the EU as the scheduled October 31 withdrawal deadline creeps closer.

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