‘You’ve got to be silly’: Biden hits back at Ukraine questions from Fox News reporter
President Joe Biden is preparing to order the release of up to one million barrels of oil per day from the strategic petroleum reserve in a bid to control prices that have spiked after the US and its allies imposed strict sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement could come as soon as Thursday, according to reports.
Mr Biden spoke with Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The call comes as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators discuss a de-escalation agreement that could see Russia draw down forces from the area near Kyiv.
Both the White House and the Pentagon have said that they believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed about progress in the war by his senior advisers.
Mr Biden also gave a speech on the state of the coronavirus pandemic, announcing the launch of a central website for resources, before receiving his second booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Meanwhile, after contentious nomination hearings that saw Republican senators harangue her about critical race theory, Ketanji Brown Jackson has picked up a crucial supporter: Maine Senator Susan Collins, who has become the first Republican to announce she will vote to confirm her.
Government departments to fly transgender pride flag
The Department of Health and Human Services will today be marking the national day of trans visibility declared by Joe Biden with a display of solidarity from its DC flagpole.
Among the department’s senior staff is Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the most senior openly trans person appointed to a Senate-confirmed government position to date.
Also flying the flag is the Department of Homeland Security, led by Xavier Becerra.
Andrew NaughtyMarch 31, 2022 2:15 p.m.
Trump advisor enraged by move to scrap Title 42
Stephen Miller, the nationalist anti-immigration hardliner who crafted much of Donald Trump’s border policy, has hit out at the Biden administration’s move to scrap the provision known as Title 42 that blocked most asylum claims at the point of entry to the US.
Warning on Twitter that the move could unleash “one of history’s most spectacular travesties” and “open the floodgates on a biblical scale”, Mr Miller was soon upbraided by those on the other side of the argument. Among his critics was Congressman Brendan Boyle, who recalled his own family’s debt to a more accepting immigration policy.
Andrew NaughtyMarch 31, 2022 1:44 p.m.
Biden marks day of transgender visibility among nationwide backlash against trans people
Joe Biden has declared 31 March the Transgender Day of Visibility, an effort to “honor transgender people who are fighting for freedom, equality, dignity, and respect” and “celebrate the parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, and other allies who affirm the identities of their transgender children and help these young people reach their potential”.
This he has done as trans people across the US face an escalating legal effort to exclude trans women from women and girls’ sport, restrict the therapies available to gender non-conforming children, and limit what schoolchildren can be taught about gender identity and sexuality.
Andrew NaughtyMarch 31, 2022 1:10 p.m.
Reports that Biden administration will end key Trump-era border policy
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to scrap Title 42, a contentious Trump-era border control policy invoked by the CDC at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The policy effectively suspended asylum claims at the point of entry to the US on the grounds of controlling Covid-19 transmission; the result was that as many as 1.7 million people seeking asylum were immediately expelled from the US without being able to present their cases.
Mr Biden’s tenure has so far seen him decline to move fast on easing the Trump administration’s sometimes draconian border policies and a surge of arrivals at the US’s southern border is expected in the coming weeks and months.
Andrew Naughty31 March 2022 12:40
Biden on new Covid funding: “It’s not partisan, it’s medicine”
Congress recently declined to provide billions of dollars in new funding for the government’s Covid-19 response effort, and Joe Biden yesterday warned that if the money isn’t forthcoming soon, the consequences could be severe.
Andrew Feinberg has the story.
Andrew NaughtyMarch 31, 2022 12:06
Biden’s anti-Semitism envoy confirmed after eight-month fight
Deborah Lipstadt, the historian whose work challenging Holocaust denial made her internationally famous, has been confirmed as the Biden administration’s special envoy to combat and monitor anti-Semitism. The vote to confirm her was introduced by a speech from Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff, himself the descendant of Jewish refugees who fled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe for a new life in the US.
Ms Lipstadt was nominated eight months ago, during which time various Republicans obstructed her because of her past remarks about them. Particularly angry was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who took exception to a tweet in which Ms Lipstadt accused him of “white supremacy/nationalism” over the January 6 insurrection.
Andrew Naughty31 March 2022 11:33
Watch: congressman’s resignation read out in House chamber
Republican Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry recently resigned his seat after being found guilty of lying on numerous counts of lying about an illegal foreign campaign donation. Below is the moment his resignation was formally read out on the House floor.
Andrew Naughty31 March 2022 11:06
ICYMI: White House spokeswoman on Trump and Putin
Speaking to the press at a briefing yesterday, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield
“So what I would say about is this,” she began. “What kind of American, let alone an ex-president, thinks that this is the right time to enter into a scheme with Vladimir Putin and brag about his connections to Vladimir Putin? There is only one, and it’s Donald Trump.”
Andrew Naughty31 March 2022 10:32
Biden meets with parents of American detained in Russia
Joe Biden yesterday met with the parents of Trevor Reed, a 30-year-old American citizen and former marine who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2019. He was originally convicted and sentenced on charges of assaulting two Moscow police officers after a drunken party, charges that his parents and the US government claim were trumped up so Mr Reed could be used as a bargaining chip for a potential prisoner exchange.
He is now on his second hunger strike in six months, and according to his parents is possibly suffering from tuberculosis and a broken rib.
The White House’s summary of the meeting reads:
Mr Reed’s parents were also reportedly grateful for the meeting:
Andrew Naughty31 March 2022 10:07
Watch: Joe Biden receives his second Covid booster shot
After his speech on the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he implored Congress to allocate more funds to the public health response, Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve to receive his second booster shot. The FDA recently approved the added measure for all over-50s and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable.
While being injected, Mr Biden was bombarded with questions about immigration and his call with Volodymyr Zelensky, among other things, but retained his cool.
Andrew NaughtyMarch 31, 2022 09:35