Donald Trump speaks at a press conference at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on 8 August, 2020.

Donald Trump has allegedly “antagonised” one of his major donors during a phone call last week, in which he demanded to know why the business magnate Sheldon Adelson was not doing more to help his re-election campaign.

This came after Mr Adelson had already pledged at least $100m to help Mr Trump win a second term as president.

Elsewhere, TikTok will reportedly sue the Trump administration over the president’s decision to issue an executive order banning the app in the US from next month.



Afghanistan agrees to release 400 Taliban prisoners to begin peace talks 

Afghanistan’s grand assembly announced on Sunday that it would release 400 Taliban prisoners so that peace talks could start. 

The decision comes under election-year pressure from Donald Trump, who wants to allow American forces to return home from the country. 

As part of the resolution, the Afghan assembly, or Loya Jirga, said in a statement: “In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban.” 

Ashraf Ghani, the country’s president, added: “Today, I will sign the release order of these 400 prisoners.”

Their release will fulfil the government’s pledge of releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners.


US official arrives in Taiwan in trip condemned by China 

Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday in the highest-level American visit since 1979, when Washington broke off ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.

Mr Azar is expected to meet Taiwan’s president and will also sign a memorandum of understanding on health cooperation. 

China, which does not view America’s growing relationship with Taiwan favourably, has threatened to take countermeasures against the US official’s trip. 

Under Donald Trump’s presidency, the US has strengthened its support for the democratic island and has increased arms sales to Taipei.


Hillary Clinton mocks journalist’s mistake

Hillary Clinton has mocked The New York Times and one of its columnists for forgetting that she ran on a mixed-gender ticket in the 2016 presidential election. 

The paper’s Opinion Twitter account said in a now-deleted message that 1984 was the last time a man and a woman had run on a Democratic party ticket. 

“It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket,” part of the tweet read. 

The column also made the same mistake, which has now been amended.

In response, Hillary Clinton tweeted that either she and her running partner Tim Kaine had been hallucinating four years ago or the journalist Maureen Dowd had taken pot. 

“Either @TimKaine and I had a very vivid shared hallucination four years ago or Maureen had too much pot brownie before writing her column again,” she wrote. 

The Independent’s Dave Maclean has more on the story here:


US coronavirus infections top 5 million 

More than five million people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the US, the most of any country in the world. 

This means that one in every 66 residents has become infected with the virus. 

The country’s death toll currently stands at more than 160,000, almost a quarter of the world’s total. 

The five-million mark was reached on the day that Donald Trump signed executive orders aimed at providing coronavirus relief to some Americans. 


Trump signs multiple executive orders for coronavirus relief, setting up potential legal battle with Democrats

Donald Trump has tried to sidestep Congress by signing multiple executive orders for coronavirus relief, writes Chris Riotta

The orders, which were signed by the president on Saturday, would extend benefits for unemployed Americans and give a payroll tax holiday to those who earn less than $100,000 among other measures.

However, one of the orders lowers unemployment payments from $600 to $400 a week. 

Mr Trump claimed that Democrats “have refused” to accept Covid-19 stimulus packages, despite Congress offering billions in relief funds through the HEROES Act, which passed in May. 

Republicans have proposed a $1 trillion plan, which Democrats think should be increased. 

It is expected that Mr Trump’s decision to take things into his own hands will spark a legal challenge from Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill.


Twitter approaches TikTok to express interest in acquiring its US operations 

Twitter is interested in acquiring the US operations of the popular social media platform TikTok and has approached its Chinese owner, two sources told Reuters.

This follows Donald Trump’s decision to ban the video-sharing app in the US from next month. 

The president has given ByteDance, the Chinese company which owns the video-sharing app, 45 days to sell its US operations.  

However, it remains unclear whether Twitter Inc could outbid Microsoft Corp and secure a deal. 

Referring to the possible purchase, Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan, said: “Twitter will have a hard time putting together enough financing to acquire even the U.S. operations of TikTok. It doesn’t have enough borrowing capacity.”

“If it (Twitter) tries to put together an investor group, the terms will be tough. Twitter’s own shareholders might prefer that management focus on its existing business”, he added.


Macron says US sanctions in Lebanon could play into hands of Iran 

French President Emmanuel Macron has told Donald Trump that US sanctions against Hezbollah could inadvertently help those they are supposed to weaken. 

As part of a number of sanctions against Iran, Washington has sought to block the global funding of the Shi’ite group Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran. 

The call between the French and US presidents happened on Friday, ahead of a conference of world leaders on Sunday which will discuss aid to Lebanon after the deadly explosions there on Tuesday. 

According to one official, Mr Macron suggested that Mr Trump should “reinvest” in Lebanon to rebuild it. 

“He told him that in the case of Lebanon, the fact is that the policy of pressure or abstention from the United States and some Gulf countries could actually play into the hands of those they are targeting, Iran and Hezbollah,” the official said.

“So it was an invitation to President Trump to reinvest the Lebanese question, because the situation is serious and we should not abandon Lebanon to those the United States are meant to target through their sanction policy,” he added.

British prime minister Boris Johnson and the king of Jordan will be among the representatives that will take part in the aid conference, scheduled for later on Sunday.


Ukrainian president says his country will not interfere in US election

Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Saturday that his country will not meddle in the US’ internal politics. 

The Ukrainian president tweeted: “#Ukraine did not and will not allow itself to interfere in the elections and thus harm our trusting and sincere partnership with the #USA.” 

The former comic actor, who won a majority last year, added: “Never, under any circumstances, it’s acceptable to meddle in another country’s sovereign elections.”

Mr Zelensky also urged Ukraine politicians to avoid actions that could be connected to the US elections.

His comments came after Ukraine was unwittingly involved in the impeachment of Donald Trump, who had urged Ukraine to bring an investigation against former vice president Joe Biden. 


TikTok to sue Trump administration 

The popular social media platform TikTok will reportedly sue the Trump administration after the president decided to ban the app in the US from September. 

The platform, which is owned by the Beijing-based firm ByteDance, could bring a lawsuit as early as Tuesday in California. 

The move comes after Donald Trump signed an order on Thursday to prevent US citizens from having “any transaction” with ByteDance, thereby banning Tiktok, which is one of the most popular apps with young people in the US. 

Mr Trump has claimed in recent months that the app was sending American user data back to the Chinese government. 

Tiktok’s parent company firmly denies the claims, saying all user data does not leave the US.


US to cut troop numbers in Afghanistan 

Defence secretary Mark Esper has said that the US intends to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan to “less than 5,000” by the end of November. 

In an interview on Saturday, Mr Esper added detail to plans announced by Donald Trump earlier this week.

The US currently has around 8,600 troops stationed in the country. 


Trump antagonises major conservative donor 

Some Republicans fear that Donald Trump has put his campaign funding in jeopardy by antagonising a major conservative donor, writes Chris Riotta

In a phone call last week, Mr Trump allegedly asked Sheldon Adelson, the 87-year-old business magnate, why he was not doing more to help his reelection campaign, according to a report published in Politico

However, Mr Adelson had already pledged at least $100m to fund Mr Trump and his allies’ reelection. 

The phone call came after several national surveys showed that the incumbent president is falling behind the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in key states such as Wisconsin and Michigan.