Trump watched the election results with mega-donors Adelson, Schwarzman

(From left) US President Donald Trump watched the midterms with Republican mega-donors, including Blackstone chief Steve Schwarzman and business magnate Sheldon Adelson. PHOTOS: REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, ST FILE

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump watched election returns on Tuesday (Nov 6) with dozens of friends in the palatial East Room of the White House, including Republican mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, and Blackstone Group chief executive Steve Schwarzman.

There were cheers when Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, lost to Republican Mike Braun, and some excitement when Texas Senator Ted Cruz was declared victorious over Democratic Representative Beto O'Rourke.

But Mr Trump watched solemnly as his party lost House seats across the country, according to three people familiar with the scene.

The watch party had the feel of a social gathering until Mr Trump arrived and greeted guests in one room, then moved to another room to watch two televisions - one with Fox New Channel's volume turned up and another with four channels on a split screen - Fox, Fox Business, CNN and MSNBC.

Mr Trump gave no speech or remarks, but expressed gratification about some of the Republican wins, including Mr Ron DeSantis for governor of Florida.

The guests ate pizza, mini hotdogs, hamburgers and French fries served from elegant dishware.

Other Trump friends in attendance included Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, investor Michael Milken, Continental Resources Inc Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm, Arkansas poultry magnate Ron Cameron and pastor Franklin Graham.

Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also participated.

Mr Trump called Ms Nancy Pelosi, the likely next Speaker of the House, to congratulate her party for winning a House majority.

He "acknowledged the leader's call for bipartisanship in her victory remarks", Mr Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms Pelosi, wrote on Twitter.

He also made congratulatory phone calls to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for the victories that kept that chamber in Republican hands, and to several successful GOP candidates, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.


Earlier in the evening, Ms Sanders said the White House will take a wait-and-see approach over who is named as the next House speaker.

While Democrats put off their party infighting in order to focus on the campaign, Ms Sanders's remarks represent an attempt to exploit latent divisions within the opposition.

Some newly elected House Democrats have said they would not support Ms Pelosi, the California Democrat who was Speaker from 2007 to 2011, to retake the gavel next year.

But there is no potential challenger to Ms Pelosi regarded as capable of amassing a significant number of votes within the House Democratic caucus.

Briefly discussing the House Democrats' likely plan to extensively investigate the Trump administration, Ms Sanders told Fox News that "they shouldn't waste time investigating" and should instead negotiate with Mr Trump on his legislative goals.

Some White House officials griped about a usual ally, Fox News, which was the first major news organisation to declare that Democrats had won the chamber.

The officials, who asked not to be identified criticising the network, complained that it made the call without sufficient data and potentially suppressed Republican votes on the West Coast, where polls were still open.

After Fox's call, Democrat Kendra Horn unseated Republican Steve Russell in an Oklahoma House seat that had been declared a "likely" GOP victory by the Cook Political Report.

The White House took a victory lap following the defeat of Mr Donnelly, as Ms Sanders declared that the President was having a good night despite losing House seats across the country.

"Right now, we feel good, it's been a good night for the President up until this point," Ms Sanders told reporters.

Mr Donnelly's loss to Mr Braun was "a huge moment" for Trump, she said.

"Candidates that have embraced the President, embraced his policies and that he's gone in and campaigned for and worked hard for, we're seeing that pay off tonight," Ms Sanders said.

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