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  • Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- President Donald Trump has long criticized the trade imbalance between the United States and China -- even saying it amounted to economic "rape.”But while in Beijing on Thursday, Trump took a much softer line."I don’t blame China," Trump said. "Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens?” Instead, the president placed blame on his predecessors. “I do blame past [U.S.] administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow,” Trump said. “We have to fix this because it just doesn't work for our great American companies and it doesn't work for our great American workers. It is just not sustainable.”The president's remarks came during a signing ceremony in Beijing, during which $250 billion worth of U.S.-China business agreements were announced. During the ceremony, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping sat in arm chairs on a dais as U.S. and Chinese business leaders walked up to a table to sign multiple "memorandums of understanding" for future business deals. Many those were non-binding agreements and are years away from taking effect.The president's remarks about shifting blame away from China for the trade imbalance is in direct contrast to his statements while on the campaign trail.During an interview with Good Morning America in November 2015, Trump labeled China an “economic enemy."“They have taken advantage of us like nobody in history," Trump said. "It's the greatest theft in the history of the world what they've done to the United States. They've taken our jobs."At a campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana in May 2016, Trump echoed that sentiment."We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country. And that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said. “It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”At Thursday's signing ceremony in Beijing, the president went on to thank Xi for his recent efforts to restrict trade and cut off banking ties with North Korea. He also said he believed Xi could fix the North Korea nuclear problem.“China can fix this problem easily and quickly, and I'm calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard,” Trump said. “I know one thing about your president. If he works on it hard, it will happen, there’s no doubt about it.”
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  • Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On the first anniversary of her defeat by President Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton said the country is on the right track when it comes to rejecting Republican ideologies."I think the fever is finally breaking," Clinton said on Wednesday in an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers.""You know what? We really like our health care. We don't like hatred and bigotry, and we don't want to get shot wherever we go in our country," she said.Democrats nabbed major victories in the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday in a clear rebuke of the president’s policies.It was also a big win for LGBT and minority candidates.In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins became the first African-American transgender woman to win a council seat in a major city. And Seattle elected its first openly lesbian mayor.Clinton said those victories gave her hope, especially since a number of young women decided to run for office."I think there's a growing awareness that the only way to reverse this is actually to go out and vote, and vote for people who have your values and will stand up and fight for them," Clinton said. "We are on the right track if people will stay involved, if people will register to vote, if people will vote and if people are willing to run. And that's the answer.”"Last night was great on so many fronts, but what was really exciting were the number of women, particularly young women, who decided they were not going to be discouraged; they were going to get out there. And I know how scary that is," she said.Meanwhile, Trump commemorated the anniversary of his electoral win with a celebratory tweet to "all the deplorables" -- a term Clinton famously used to describe Trump supporters during the 2016 election."Congratulations to all of the 'DEPLORABLES' and the millions of people who gave us a MASSIVE (304-227) Electoral College landslide victory!" he wrote on Twitter.
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  • ABC News(SEOUL) -- As voters headed to the polls Tuesday in Virginia's gubernatorial race, President Trump called the Democratic candidate -- who served as a U.S. Army medic for eight years -- "weak on our great veterans." "Ralph Northam will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia. He’s weak on crime, weak on our GREAT VETS, Anti-Second Amendment...and has been horrible on Virginia economy," Trump tweeted from South Korea. The president is currently on a five-country tour of Asia.According to his biography, Northam served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, later rising to the rank of major. Northam served eight years of duty as an Army doctor, including during Operation Desert Storm in the first Gulf War.Northam is facing off against former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in a tight race for the governor's seat. The campaign has become increasingly negative and is seen as a proxy for the 2018 midterm elections. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia. 
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  • ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- A longtime aide to President Donald Trump, who followed the businessman-turned-president from New York City to the White House, is expected on Capitol Hill Tuesday to face questions from congressional Russia investigators. Keith Schiller, who served as Trump’s director of Oval Office operations until September, will meet with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors. The panel is investigating Russian election interference and allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. ABC News first reported congressional investigators’ interest in Schiller earlier this year. A former New York City police officer, Schiller has been a fixture at Trump’s side for decades, serving as a body man for the New York developer and a point of contact for many people trying to get in touch with Trump. He is expected to face questions from Democrats about Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, sources told ABC News. Schiller joined Trump on that trip, which is the focus of some of the salacious, unverified allegations in the controversial dossier produced by former British spy Christopher Steele. Steele was hired by political research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. The firm was retained by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign after initially working for the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news organization, during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. In May, Schiller hand-delivered Trump’s letter firing former FBI Director James Comey to FBI headquarters. Special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the circumstances around Comey’s firing. Schiller was also known on the campaign trail as Trump’s enforcer, physically removing Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a 2015 press conference and hitting a protester in the face outside another Trump Tower event. Schiller did not respond to a request for comment on his appearance before congressional investigators.
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  • ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Retired four-star U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus said the military is "fiercely protective” of the freedoms of speech and expression “even if that includes criticizing us.” This is a different view than that of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said it's "highly inappropriate" to debate a U.S. general."I think we're all fair game," Petraeus told ABC News This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz in an exclusive interview Sunday. "We in uniform protect the rights of others to criticize us, frankly." Petraeus was responding to a remark made at a Friday media briefing, where Sanders said it would be "inappropriate" for a reporter to question a claim by White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly. Sanders was defending Kelly’s claim that Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida -- who criticized President Trump’s response to a grieving military widow -- had taken credit for securing federal funding for an FBI building in Miami in a 2015 speech.Video of Wilson's speech obtained by the Sun-Sentinel appeared to refute Kelly's account. When a reporter pointed this out to Sanders, the press secretary said, "If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you. But I think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that's something highly inappropriate."Sanders later sought to clarify her comment, telling ABC News in a statement, "Of course everyone can be questioned, but after witnessing Gen. Kelly's heartfelt and somber account [of his son's death in military combat] we should all be able to agree that impugning his credibility on how best to honor fallen heroes is not appropriate."Petraeus urged everyone to unite behind Gold Star families and “embrace them with compassion and support” instead of dragging them into “partisan politics.”He also highlighted the danger of political division."Arguably, the most important threat the United States faces is not that of Russia, Iran, North Korea, or even Chinese competition, or ISIS, it's parochialism here at home,” Petraeus said. “[It] is preventing us from resolving issues that could allow us to capitalize on extraordinary opportunities.”“We need to re-learn the word of compromise,” he said. “We need to take the volume down.” Petraeus said he knows Kelly well and believes the White House chief of staff will figure out how to do just that."I have to think that this weekend he's sitting at home or in the White House trying to figure out how to turn down the volume, how to get this behind us, and how to focus on what really is important to the country over all," Petraeus said.
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