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January 21, 2022

White House in Damage Control Mode After Biden’s Press Conference ‘Disaster’

President Joe Biden gave a nearly two-hour press conference, wherein he gave multiple comments that caused the White House to enter damage control mode.

After nearly a year of media complaints about their lack of access to the president, Biden’s lengthy conference received widespread criticism.

The most vocal critics called it a “disaster,” but even mainstream outlets like The Washington Post reported that it “wound up reinforcing why he generally has been kept out of such lengthy back-and-forths.”

First, Biden said that a “minor incursion” by Russia into Ukraine might merit a lesser response.

“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does,” Biden said. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, etcetera.”

“But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing, with the force amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine. And our allies and partners are ready to impose severe cost and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy,” he added.

The White House quickly swooped in, with press secretary Jen Psaki issuing a statement hours later.

“President Biden has been clear with the Russian president: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our allies,” Psaki said.

Still, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a direct rebuttal to Biden’s remarks.

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky tweeted. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power.”

Biden’s comments on the integrity of the upcoming 2022 midterm elections also raised eyebrows.

When asked if he believes the election would be fair if Congress doesn’t pass voting rights legislation, Biden said: “Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.”

Later, when asked again about election outcomes, Biden said the midterms could “easily be illegitimate.”

Psaki took to Twitter to address the president’s words, saying he “was not casting doubt on the legitimacy in the 2022 election.”

She echoed similar sentiments on Thursday morning, during a rare appearance on Fox News.

“The point he was raising was both that in 2020, even amongst challenging circumstances, efforts to suppress the vote and the midst of a pandemic, there was record turnout, [among] Democrats and Republicans record turnout to go to the polls,” Psaki said.

When asked if the Ukrainian government had been in touch with the White House, Psaki said: “Our national security team has been in touch.”

“[Secretary of State] Tony Blinken is in Europe right now. Also, I would note the foreign minister conveyed just this morning that he is confident in the support of the United States, and he should be, because we are supportive, and we have their backs.”

Biden sought to clarify his remarks, offering a much different sentiment than before.

“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” he said. “Let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called Biden’s comments “bizarre.”

“President Biden needs to clean up his remarks he needs to clearly state American resolve and clearly demonstrate American leadership,” McConnell said.


Source:

Biden’s marathon Q&A forces White House to play cleanup — twice

January 21, 2022

Biden Says 2022 Midterms ‘Could Easily Be Illegitimate’ [Video]

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
2008: Black Monday in worldwide stock markets. FTSE 100 had its biggest ever one-day points fall, European stocks closed with their worst result since 9/11, and Asian stocks drop as much as 15%.

During a press conference at the White House, President Joe Biden cast doubt on election integrity, saying the upcoming 2022 midterms could “easily be illegitimate” without passing voting reforms.

When asked if he believes the election would be fair if Congress doesn’t pass voting rights legislation, Biden said: “Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.”

Later, when asked again about election outcomes, Biden said the midterms could “easily be illegitimate.”

“The prospect of an illegitimate [election] is in direct proportion to us being able to get these reforms passed, but I don’t think … you’re going to see the Democratic Party give up on coming back,” he said.

“I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit. It’s — the increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these — these reforms passed.”

Critics said Biden’s remarks casting doubt on election integrity were “irresponsible.”

“Democrats have been highly critical of those Republicans who refused to accept the results of the last election and use the word ‘rigged’ to say that elections weren’t fair. They’re using the exact same language and casting doubt on elections,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told Fox News. “It’s irresponsible.”

“I think it was shocking, to be honest with you. Just shocking. To have the president of the United States trying to undermine the results of an election before there’s actually an election is a stunning manifestation,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “was not casting doubt on the legitimacy in the 2022 election.”

“He was making the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters turned out in the face of a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and have those votes counted,” Psaki tweeted.

“He was explaining that the results would be illegitimate if states do what the former president asked them to do after the 2020 election: toss out ballots and overturn results after the fact. The Big Lie is putting our democracy at risk. We’re fighting to protect it.”


Source:

Biden on midterms: “I think it could easily be illegitimate”

January 20, 2022

White House’s Website for Free COVID Tests Goes Live

Amid criticism for widespread shortages, the White House launched a new federal website to increase the accessibility to COVID-19 rapid tests.

Americans can order free tests at covidtests.gov or usps.com/covidtest. The first shipments are slated for the end of January. According to the White House, “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.”

The Biden administration says that “to promote broad access,” shipments will initially be limited to four tests per household.

Additionally, the Biden administration has required private insurers to reimburse the cost of up to eight at-home rapid tests per month per insured individual.

According to AP, the White House estimates the cost of purchasing and distributing the first 500 million tests at about $4 billion, funded by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Biden signed into law last March.


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Website for free virus tests is here. How does it work?

January 15, 2022

Family of American Held Hostage By Taliban Begs Biden for Help

The family of the sole American hostage being held in Afghanistan by the Taliban is desperate for help.

According to the Washington Examiner, “the Taliban have been saying for more than a year that they are willing to negotiate [Mark Frerichs’] release and were on board for a prisoner swap. The Biden administration hasn’t bitten, though similar deals were made during the Obama and Trump administrations.”

A civil engineer and former member of the U.S. Navy, Frerichs worked as a contractor for a decade overseas before he was abducted in Kabul on January 31, 2020.

According to the Examiner, the Taliban has said they’re willing to free Frerichs if the U.S. releases Bashir Noorzai, an Afghan drug lord serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for smuggling $50 million of heroin into the country.

Frerichs’ sister, Charlene Cakora, told the outlet she wants the government to make the deal and bring her brother home but has hit a wall, first with the Trump administration and now with the Biden administration.

“Three months before Frerichs’s kidnapping, former President Donald Trump approved a controversial prisoner swap that sparked protests internationally. The Haqqanis released two American University professors, Kevin King and Timothy Weeks, who were taken at gunpoint in Kabul in August 2016, as well as 10 Afghan soldiers. In exchange, and under pressure from the State Department, the Afghan government released three high-ranking Haqqani commanders who had a disturbing history of carrying out car bombings and assassinations,” the Washington Examiner reported.

Cakora told the outlet she thought the Trump administration would negotiate with the Taliban for her brother’s release, but instead, it repeatedly ignored the family’s requests, shut it out of conversations, and then finally just said no.

Then a month after her brother’s kidnapping, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Afghanistan’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban negotiators to formalize the agreement to withdraw the U.S. military. They eventually reached a deal on February 29, 2020, which included feeding up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan. There wasn’t any mention of the only known U.S. hostage still being held captive in Afghanistan.

Cakora said the situation had taken a massive toll on their family. So far, there hasn’t been any indication of help from President Joe Biden.

“In late June, then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was pressed by reporters to comment on Frerichs’s kidnapping. He said his government would do what it could to help but admitted the topic never came up during his meeting with [Biden] at the White House,” the outlet reported.

The U.S. failed to utilize one of the last times it had leverage to demand Frerichs’ release: during the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The State Department told the outlet it had been in regular contact with the family, though it didn’t say “what, if anything,” it’s doing to bring Frerichs home.

“The families of Americans held captive abroad can face incredible hardships as they tirelessly advocate for their loved ones,” the department told the outlet in an emailed statement. “We remain in regular contact with families, including the family of Mark Frerichs. We are grateful for their partnership and feedback, and we work to ensure that we are sharing information in a way that is helpful.”

The email added: “The safe and immediate release of U.S. citizen and Navy veteran Mark Frerichs is imperative. We have made that clear to the Taliban. As the Taliban seek legitimacy, they cannot continue to hold a U.S. citizen hostage. The Taliban must immediately release Mark Frerichs.”


Source:

Mark Frerichs, sole American hostage held in Afghanistan, nears third year in captivity

January 15, 2022

Inside Joe Biden’s ‘Disastrous’ 48 Hours

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
2001: Wikipedia, a free Wiki or content encyclopedia, is launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger

President Joe Biden is reeling from a tumultuous 48 hours that handed his administration various defeats.

First, a new poll found that the president’s approval rating has hit an all-time low of 33%. The staggeringly low number is significant considering that Biden received a record-breaking 88 million votes, more than any other presidential candidate in history, according to The Hill. Biden’s approval rating was 55% when he entered office almost one year ago.

Then, the Labor Department announced that inflation is now sitting at its highest point since 1982.

The following day, as Biden headed toward Capitol Hill to urge congressional Democrats to pass voting rights legislation, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) declared she would not support eliminating or altering the filibuster.

Shortly after the president got word that Sinema had effectively delivered a death blow to his plan to pass two sweeping election reform bills, the Supreme Court handed him another loss, blocking the administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.

Opinion contributor for The Hill, Joe Concha, summarized the events like this: “The economy is crippled by high prices and not-so-transitory inflation. The president is rebuffed (again) by a member of his own party on a major initiative. And then his vaccine mandate is struck down by a 6-3 decision in the Supreme Court. All in less than 48 hours.” 

Meanwhile, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the current sentiment that things aren’t going well for the Biden administration.

“Frankly, things just seem like they’re going pretty poorly right now for the White House,” the reporter said, before citing Build Back Better’s stalled progress, the voting rights reforms failing, and unsuccessful diplomatic conversations with Russia. “You seem to be stymied on an incredible number of problems right now,” he added.

Psaki dismissed the concerns raised and instead offered a “different take” on the current situation, listing off various things like more than 200 million Americans being vaccinated, low unemployment rates, and the passing of the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

“So the sense is things are going well; there’s no need for change right now?” the reporter said.

“We could certainly propose legislation to see if people support bunny rabbits and ice cream, but that wouldn’t be very rewarding for the American people,” Psaki replied.

Psaki’s flippant response was largely panned, leaving many Americans feeling like the administration “hates us.”


Source:

Biden reeling after major losses on filibuster, vaccines and more to start 2022

January 14, 2022

Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s workplace vaccine-or-test mandate, but it upheld the requirement for most of the country’s health care workers.

The high court’s conservative majority ruled 6-3 to halt the mandate for large employers, saying that the administration had acted outside its authority. President Joe Biden’s order would’ve affected more than 80 million people.

“[The Occupational Safety and Health Administration] has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the justices wrote in the majority opinion.

Justices decided 5-4 to keep the requirement in place for healthcare workers. The mandate, enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, requires employees of medical facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid to be vaccinated.


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Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

January 13, 2022

Biden Bristles at Reporter: ‘I’m Insulted You Asked the Question’

President Joe Biden was “insulted” by a reporter asking how he felt about former Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-GA) “skipping” his speech on voting rights in her home state.

“Any thoughts on Stacey Abrams skipping your speech today, sir? Are you insulted she’s skipping your speech?” a reporter asked Biden before he departed for Georgia.

“I’m insulted you asked the question,” Biden said before smiling. “I spoke to Stacey this morning. We have a great relationship. We got our scheduling mixed up. I talked to her at length this morning. We’re all on the same page, and everything’s fine.”

Abrams, a Georgia gubernatorial candidate for 2022, has made voting rights a key issue of her platform, so many viewed her absence as pointed.

“This is an event custom-made for Stacy Abrams, she obviously doesn’t want to be on the same stage as Joe Biden,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said on Morning Joe.


Source:

Biden tells reporter he’s ‘insulted’ at idea he felt burned by Stacey Abrams skipping GA voting speech

January 12, 2022

Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Goes into Effect

President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate went into effect this week amid a continued Supreme Court battle over the order’s fate.

Previously, a federal court blocked the order, and then it was reinstated, leaving employers unsure how to proceed. Justices seemed skeptical about the mandate’s legality on Friday but didn’t block or postpone its implementation.

The order requires businesses with 100 or more workers to have a database of their vaccination statuses, post their company vaccine policy, provide paid leave to employees getting the vaccine, and require unvaccinated employees to wear a mask.

Enforcement of the rule falls to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency said it won’t issue penalties until February 9.

“OSHA has been very careful to say that as long as employers are in good faith moving towards compliance, that they’re not going to issue any citations until February 9,” Domenique Camacho Moran, a New York-based employment attorney, told The Hill.

“But if there’s an egregious violation, I don’t think employers can rely on the promise that there will not be a citation,” she continued. “Employers need to take steps to immediately comply.” 

However, even collecting information on employees’ vaccination statuses has been difficult for some.

“Even the requirement of just figuring out who is vaccinated and who isn’t is a significant burden, and the confusion around court rulings and whether the rule is in effect hasn’t helped,” said Ed Egee of the National Retail Federation, which asked the Supreme Court to halt the mandate.

Employers who fail to comply with the order could face up to $14,000 in fines per violation.


Source:

Biden coronavirus vaccine-or-test mandate goes into effect

January 12, 2022

Report: More Than 47K Migrants Have Gone Missing Under Biden

Newly released data shows that 47,705 migrants who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were released into the country during the Biden administration’s first year have disappeared.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security disclosed the information to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who published the data in a press release. According to the DHS, Border Patrol released 47,705 migrants from custody at the southern border between March 21 and August 31, 2021. The individuals were instructed to self-report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement within 60 days but failed to check back in.

“DHS data shows the practice of issuing [Notices to Report] has been an abysmal failure,” the press release said. Johnson is the top GOP member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

The Biden administration implemented the Notices to Report in March, aiming to mitigate the amount of paperwork for Border Patrol agents amid a steep rise in migrant encounters. Individuals who complied with the Notices to Report were given documents to work legally in the U.S.


Source:

47,705 migrants released with instructions to report to ICE have gone missing under Biden

January 10, 2022

Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.9%

The national unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% last month, marking a pandemic low.

According to data from the Labor Department, the jobless rate stood at 4.2% in November. In December, 651,000 more people said they were employed.

Pay also increased in December, with average hourly pay up by 4.7% compared to last year. The statistic suggests that employers are competing to fill their open positions amid the so-called Great Resignation.

However, economists have said that the spike in COVID-19 cases amid the omicron surge may slow job growth in January and possibly February. According to AP, “the economy is still about 3.6 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.”

Low unemployment and high wage increases could exacerbate inflation as companies raise prices to compensate for higher labor costs.

“Companies are paying up for workers,” said Neil Dutta, an economist at Renaissance Macro Research. “This is consistent with inflation well above 2%, which keeps the pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates.”

Still, President Joe Biden touted the unemployment rate as a “historic” milestone. He claimed the data showed “the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in United States history and the first time the unemployment rate has been below 4% in the first year of a presidential term in 50 years.”

“Record job creation, record unemployment declines, record increases in the people in the labor force,” Biden continued. “I would argue the Biden economic plan is working and is getting America back to work back on its feet.”

However, as Biden spoke, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel criticized the latest numbers as his presidency’s “worst jobs report.”

She voiced her criticism on Twitter, saying: “This is the worst jobs report of Biden’s presidency so far. Less than HALF the jobs expected were created. It’s clear: His ‘plan’ is not working!”


Source:

US unemployment sinks to 3.9% as many more people find jobs

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