The Latest: Trump cancels business talks in 3 countries

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Donald Trump (all times EST):

6:35 p.m.

The Trump Organization is canceling talks over possible projects in Brazil, Argentina and India as the president-elect pulls back from deal-making less than three weeks before taking office.

Trump lawyer Alan Garten says the company has cancelled a "memorandum of understanding" to continue discussions with local partners over a possible office tower in Rio de Janeiro. He also said the company won't continue "exploratory" talks over projects in Pune, India, and in Argentina.

The moves follow the cancellations late last year of licensing deals for hotels in Brazil, Azerbaijan and the neighboring country of Georgia.

Trump has pledged to do "no new deals" while president and to leave management of his company to his two adult sons. He has promised to offer details at a news conference next week.

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6 p.m.

Congress has distributed free tickets for Donald Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration, but some people are trying to turn them into cash.

Websites including Craigslist and GreatSeats.com have tickets to the swearing-in on sale for $490 or more.

That's not OK with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which gave inaugural tickets to congressional offices for free distribution to the public.

Laura Condeluci, communication director for the joint committee, said Wednesday the panel is working with sites like eBay and StubHub to prevent such sales, as it has done in the past.

Condeluci says, "Tickets to view the swearing-in of our next president are meant to be free, and it should remain that way."

There didn't appear to be any tickets to the swearing-in available on eBay or StubHub.

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4:20 p.m.

Donald Trump has hired a political adviser whom New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cut ties with two years ago in the fallout from the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

Trump on Wednesday named Bill Stepien as deputy assistant to the president and political director.

Stepien wasn't charged in the so-called "Bridgegate" case. But the government's star witness testified that the close Christie adviser knew about the plan to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

Stepien's attorney has said his client had no role in the scheme.

David Wildstein also testified Stepien knew about plans to use the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for political favors to gain endorsements from Democrats.

Two former Christie allies were convicted in November and are to be sentenced next month.

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3:40 p.m.

A Mexican presidential candidate has staged a one-man protest at Trump Tower.

Gerardo Fernández Noroña on Wednesday sat down in the lobby of the Manhattan skyscraper and briefly refused to leave. He held a map of the United States labeled "Mexico in 1830" and showed it to the reporters and photographers gathered in the lobby.

Noroña was then escorted from the building. He later tweeted that he was "satisfied" with the nonviolent protest.

Noroña, a politician and sociologist, has staged similar demonstrations in his native Mexico. A spokeswoman for Trump, who lives in the skyscraper's penthouse, did not respond to a request for comment.

Many Mexicans are nervous about relations with Trump, who began his campaign by suggesting that many of them who entered the U.S. illegally were rapists.

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3:30 p.m.

Donald Trump's choice for ambassador to China is demurring about whether the president-elect may be making his potential future assignment more difficult.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says, "It would be inappropriate for me to comment."

Branstad has known Chinese President Xi Jinping since early in their political careers. He says he hopes the relationship will "help me to be able to communicate to the Chinese the changes that are taking place in American foreign policy."

Since the Nov. 8 election, Trump has irritated Chinese officials by talking with the president of Taiwan, violating the U.S. one-China policy.

Earlier this week, Trump complained that China "won't help" the U.S. effort to prevent North Korea from developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The Chinese government has urged Trump to tone down such remarks.

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2:30 p.m.

It's a big hiring day for the incoming Trump White House.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Katie Walsh as deputy to chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus). Walsh worked for Priebus at the Republican National Committee and helped with party fundraising.

Rick Dearborn, who used to work on Capitol Hill, is taking over a top job dealing with Congress.

Joe Hagin — who's worked in three GOP White Houses — is coming on board as deputy chief of staff for operations.

The White House political director is Bill Stepien, a former political adviser to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Stepien was fired by Christie in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.

Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on "The Apprentice," will focus on public engagement in the White House.

And Keith Schiller, Trump's longtime personal security guard, will be director of Oval Office operations.

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1:50 p.m.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says he found common ground with President-elect Donald Trump's pick for press secretary during a meeting at the White House.

Earnest says he and Trump aide Sean Spicer had a long conversation on Tuesday, joined by Obama communications director Jen Psaki. Earnest says he's considered it a "genuine honor" to serve in the role and that Spicer "sees it the same way."

He says the meeting focused on the "complicated logistics" of working in the White House and the approach that he and Psaki took. Earnest isn't commenting on Spicer's suggestions he may make changes to the tradition of a daily, televised White House press briefing.

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1 p.m.

The United Nations says the new U.N. secretary-general had "a very positive discussion" with Donald Trump on U.S.-U.N. relations.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says Antonio Guterres called the president-elect on Wednesday — and their introductory conversation went well.

Trump criticized the U.N. last month after the United States allowed the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

He tweeted: "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th" — inauguration day.

A later tweet said the U.N. "has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!"

Haq told reporters Guterres and Trump discussed "a number of avenues for participation and cooperation between the United States and the United Nations"

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11:15 a.m.

The CIA and FBI directors — along with the director of national intelligence — will brief President-elect Donald Trump on the investigation into Russia's alleged hacking efforts during the 2016 election.

Transition officials say CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey (KOH'-mee) and national intelligence chief James Clapper will meet with Trump in New York on Friday.

Trump has cast doubt on the case being made by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

Trump has blamed the DNC itself and sided with WikiLeaks founds Julian Assange (ah-SAHNJ'), who claims Russian wasn't involved.

This will be Trump's first meeting with Comey since Comey's October announcement that the FBI was reviewing additional emails connected to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Many Democrats blame the letter for turning the election to Trump.

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10:55 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump wants Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Trump says in a statement that Clayton is "a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law." Trump says his nominee will work to ensure that financial institutions "can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time."

The Senate must OK the nomination of Clayton, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

Clayton is the latest Trump pick with deep ties to Wall Street — having represented Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Capital Inc.

Trump says he wants to undo many regulations that he says have "stifled investment" in Americans businesses.

Clayton says he'll "carefully monitor" the financial sector and set policies that encourages companies to create jobs.

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9:30 a.m.

Donald Trump is warning Republicans against letting Democrats escape blame for problems with President Barack Obama's health care law.

The president-elect is making his views known in a series of new tweets and he's taking aim at the Senate's Democratic leader, New York's Chuck Schumer — a top defender of the health overhaul.

Trump has this advice for fellow Republicans: "Don't let the Schumer clowns out of this web." And Trump says "massive increases" in health costs will occur this year "and Dems are to blame for the mess."

Trump also says the law "will fall of its own weight — be careful."

Trump's tweeting comes as the new GOP-led Congress begins initial steps toward dismantling Obama's law.

Obama is holding a Capitol Hill strategy session with congressional Democrats about how to combat the Republican effort. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is meeting separately with GOP lawmakers

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7:24 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump is suggesting the Democratic National Committee's carelessness led to the hack that roiled the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Why was the DNC so careless?" Trump tweeted early Wednesday. He was referring to the hacking last year of the committee's private email traffic, including emails of John Podesta, a top adviser to Hillary Clinton. Trump said WikiLeaks founder "Julian Assange said 'a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta'...Also said Russians did not give him the info!"

Assange has said his source for the emails WikiLeaks released was not a state, but that left open the prospect that he acquired it from a third party. The U.S. intelligence community, along with numerous Republicans and Democrats, allege that Russia did the hacking.

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3:45 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump is raising new questions about the nation's intelligence community, tweeting fresh criticism at the same people who will help inform his most sensitive decisions once he takes office.

Trump charged Tuesday on Twitter, without evidence, that the timing of an upcoming intelligence briefing on suspected Russian interference in the 2016 election had been delayed. "Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" he wrote, using quote marks around the word "intelligence."

Trump's tweet, in line with repeated criticism of his nation's intelligence leaders, caused confusion among intelligence officials, who said there was no delay in the briefing schedule.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017