Donald Trump vented his frustration with media, voters and fellow Republicans – and forced the resignation of his Attorney General – the morning after the Democratic Party regained control of the House of Representatives.
Mr Trump’s Republicans were battered by a major swing in the House by midterm voters, but added to their Senate majority and won some key races for governor.
The mixed verdict, in what was billed as a referendum on the Trump administration, promises to curb Mr Trump’s aggressive policies on immigration and trade, and open control of oversight committees with the ability to subpoena and investigate the President.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become the next speaker in the House, spoke of “a new day in America.”
The Democrats have so far gained 26 seats in the House of Representatives, three more than the 23 needed to gain control.
The Republicans gained two seats in the Senate and have 51 to the Democrats 45, with four seats still to be called.
Added to the loss of the House of Representatives majority, Mr Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he had resigned at the President’s “request”.
Mr Trump announced in tweet that he was naming Mr Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.
The twin moves set up a showdown with Special Counsel Robert Mueller whose investigation into Trump campaign links to Russia is moving into its final phase.
While the election result will force the President to engage in bipartisan politics for the first time, Mr Trump told a chaotic media conference Thursday morning (AEST) that the midterms were a win for him and the Republicans.
A visibly tired Mr Trump described the Republicans’ expanded majority in the Senate as a history-defying feat of political prowess.
We “dramatically outperformed historical precedents,” he said, despite what he called a “very dramatic fundraising disadvantage” and “very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly”.
Asked what he had learnt from the election result, Mr Trump said: “I think people like me. I think people like the job I’m doing.”
But after initially speaking of unity and bipartisanship, Mr Trump’s mood quickly changed as he lashed out at a “hostile media” and engaged in a spiteful exchange with one reporter, calling him “rude”, and ordering other journalists to “sit down”.
The President took offence at CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he tried to ask a follow-up question, saying: “CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a very rude person … the way you treat Sarah Huckabee is…”
Mr Trump demanded the microphone be taken away from Mr Acosta, prompting a female aide to stand up and try to wrench it from the journalist’s hand.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 7, 2018
Mr Trump later said he was “insulted” after PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked him about white nationalists being emboldened by the President labelling himself a “nationalist”.
“That’s such a racist question,” he said.
Trump also took the unusual step of mocking Republican candidates who kept their distance from him during the midterm campaign because of concerns that his divisive messages on immigration would turn off voters.
“Carlos Curbelo, Mike Coffman – too bad, Mike,” he said, referring to the losing Florida Republican congressmen and Colorado contests.
Mr Trump also shrugged off new threats of investigations into his finances from a Democratic-led House, warning “investigate me, and I’ll investigate you — and the government will grind to a halt”.
Later in the media conference, Mr Trump was forced to deny claims by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that he had made racist remarks in the past.
“That’s false,” Mr Trump said as the reporter began his question.
“I would never do that and I don’t use racist remarks,” he said, adding that if he did, “you would’ve known about it.”