Obama jokingly calls Biden ‘vice president’ on return to White House
Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is expected to be confirmed today by a vote on the Senate floor. Having garnered the support of three Republican senators – Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney – she is also expected to have the support of all 50 Democrats, setting her up to become the court’s first Black woman justice.
The vote comes after a seven-week nomination process that saw her heavily criticized by Republicans who focused on her supposed record of leniency towards sexual offenders who targeted children. That criticism was in turn widely rejected as a distortion of her past decisions.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is stepping up sanctions against Russia, whose economy it says is approaching the point of catastrophe because of western restrictions on imports, businesses and wealthy individuals.
Announcing a new round of sanctions, Mr Biden promised that “we will keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia’s economic isolation”.
ICYMI: White House warns of economic collapse in Russia
As it escalates its sanctions on Russian businesses and state institutions as well as oligarchs, officials and their families, the Biden administration has this week claimed that the Russian economy is nearing “the brink of a collapse” thanks to the co-ordinated western actions to punish it for the attack on Ukraine.
According to Joe Biden, the new round of measures unveiled yesterday, which included sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, are intended to “ratchet up the pain” on the Russian president.
Andrew Feinberg and Justin Vallejo have more.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 13:22
Ketanji Brown Jackson nears confirmation
Ketanji Brown Jackson will finally face a full Senate vote later, and with the support of 53 Senators, she is expected to be confirmed. That will make her the first Black woman justice at the highest court in the land.
However, because she is replacing a retiring liberal justice, Stephen Breyer, she will not shift the ideological balance of the court, which thanks to Donald Trump’s appointment is currently tilted 6-3 in favor of the right on most decisions.
Senate poised to confirm Jackson to Supreme Court
The Senate is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday, securing her place as the first Black woman on the high court and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his historic pick
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 12:39
US warns of upcoming North Korean nuclear test
North Korea recently tested what seemed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the Biden administration has now warned that the isolated dictatorship may be planning another “provocative action” in the next week – possibly a full-blown nuclear weapons test.
According to the US special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, the US and its allies “are prepared to deal with whatever they may undertake”.
Aside from the war in Ukraine, which has seen Vladimir Putin order Russia’s nuclear forces to a higher level of alert, the Biden administration is also engaged in intensive talks to salvage some sort of anti-proliferation deal with Iran after the hard-won 2015 deal to curb its nuclear enrichment program was ditched by Donald Trump.
Maroosha Muzaffar has the story.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 12:06
Hunter Biden increasingly in Republicans’ sights as midterms loom
Joe Biden’s son Hunter has long been the focus of accusations that he used his name and connection to his father to secure profitable business deals, as well as allegations of tax impropriety around his work with foreign companies.
And as federal investigations into his affairs garner increasing attention, Republicans in the House of Representatives are making it clear that if they win back the majority in November – as is widely expected – the younger Mr Biden will immediately find himself under investigation by Congress as well.
“The House Oversight Committee is going to be all over Hunter Biden,” said Congressman James Comer in an interview with Political. “We’re going to focus on Hunter Biden not for political reasons, but because we feel he’s a national security threat.”
John Bowden has the story.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 11:36
What if the Senate can’t pass a Covid relief bill?
The White House has been hard on Congress to pass a new bill allocating billions of dollars to help with the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, but as things stand, the Senate – which will shortly go into recess – is fighting over the administration’s plan to repeal a Trump-era measure to control immigration at the southern border.
If the package does not pass, numerous programs could be at stake – among them the purchase of Covid therapeutics, vaccine and boosters, and the White House has warned shots that without new money to invest, uninsured people could be left struggling to access tests.
Eric Garcia has this analysis.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 10:46
The White House Struggles with TikTok
A TikTok account set up to improve Joe Biden’s profile with younger voters has got off to a slow start, with only 118 fans following @buildingbacktogether on the platform despite the glaring name recognition advantage.
Here’s the account’s first video, a montage of legislative achievements inexplicably soundtracked by ABBA’s 1979 hit “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 10:27
Ketanji Brown Jackson nears confirmation
Today will see the full Senate vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to sit on the highest bench in the US. She is expected to be confirmed with the support of just three Republicans: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, all of whom have been roundly condemned by right-wing media for backing her.
Indeed, much of the rest of the party has spent the confirmation process accusing her of being soft on child abusers and demanding she explain to them what a woman is.
Here, Andrew Feinberg runs through the more off-base questions she was asked by the Judiciary Committee.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 10:03
Jen Psaki on Russian-inspired US domestic terrorism
The Independent‘s Andrew Feinberg yesterday asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki whether Russia exploit the affinity it’s US might attract from some far-right white supremacists to inspire domestic terrorism for sanctions.
The recent history of extremist groups’ affiliation with Russian counterparts is stark indeed. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described how over the past number of years, neo-Nazi and “identitarian” figures in the US have been linked to Russian ultranationalists like philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, who has been described as “Putin’s brain”.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 09:43
Pentagon press secretary: “Brutality is a tactic the Russians are using”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby last night gave an interview on Russia’s use of cluster bombs and other weapons against civilians in Ukraine, where Joe Biden has recently insisted Vladimir Putin’s military is committing war crimes.
“They are indiscriminate in the way they are attacking,” he said. “They don’t care about how many civilians they’re killing or how many people they’re forcing to flee.”
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 09:24
Elizabeth Warren demands Biden cancel student debt
After Joe Biden announced a sixth extension to the end of the student loan repayment freeze instituted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, progressive Democrats have amped up their calls for the president to take unilateral action and cancel them altogether – something he says should be done via congressional action, though the idea is extremely unlikely to make it through the legislature given partisan politics.
Here’s Elizabeth Warren on MSNBC explaining yesterday what cancellation could achieve.
Andrew Naughtie7 April 2022 08:44