Key moments from Biden’s first national address

The Biden administration is struggling to find ground with North Korea with the country failing to respond to outreach from a behind-the-scenes diplomatic push, according to a new report.

A senior Biden official told Reuters that Mr Biden has so far yielded no response from Pyongyang, raising questions about how President Joe Biden will approach concerns surrounding North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

Domestically, the president has deployed emergency officials to help care for thousands of unaccompanied migrant teens and children despite having insisted there is no “crisis” at the border.

Elsewhere, former President Donald Trump is reported to have said Meghan Markle is “no good” following her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last week but said he would be “cancelled like Piers Morgan” if he voiced his opinion.

Supporters of Mr Trump are also being mocked on Twitter after they announced Mr Trump is “getting in shape for 2024” alongside a photo of him looking forlorn in Mar-a-Lago.

On Capitol Hill, some House Democrats have made clear that they will not engage in bipartisan work with any Republican who continue to question the outcome of the presidential election.

Massachusetts freshman Representative Jake Auchincloss has said he would “throw cold water on the whole thing” if it turns out a GOP member has refused to admit that Mr Biden won the election he told NBC News.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of US politics and the Joe Biden administration.

Louise Hall14 March 2021 13:47

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North Korea ‘has not responded to behind-the-scenes approaches from Biden administration’

North Korea has not responded to outreach from the Biden administration, according to a report citing a senior Joe Biden official.

Reuters has reported that a behind-the-scenes diplomatic push that began in mid-February has so far yielded no response from Pyongyang, raising questions about how President Joe Biden will approach concerns surrounding North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

The US’s top diplomat, Antony Blinken, and defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, are due to make a trip to South Korea and Japan next week, with North Korea’s nuclear capabilities set to be high on the agenda.

Louise Hall14 March 2021 13:59

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Louise Hall14 March 2021 13:59

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Biden deploying emergency officials to border to deal with rise in child migrants – despite insisting there is no ‘crisis’

The Biden administration has been forced to deploy emergency federal officials to the Mexico border to help care for thousands of unaccompanied migrant teens and children despite refusing to label the situation a “crisis”.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being deployed as the young people are packed into detention cells and tent shelters.

Government figures show a growing crisis at the border as hundreds of children illegally enter the US from Mexico daily and are taken into custody.

However, the Biden administration has refused to call the situation a “crisis” with administration officials instead describing the ongoing circumstances as a “challenge.”

President Joe Biden has ended the Trump-era practice of expelling immigrant children who cross the border alone but maintained expulsions of immigrant families and single adults.

FEMA will support a governmentwide effort over the next three months to safely receive, shelter and transfer minor children who arrive alone at the US southwest border.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:14

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Children packed into Border Patrol tent for days on end and forced to sleep on floor, lawyers claim

Hundreds of immigrant children and teenagers have been detained at a Border Patrol tent facility in packed conditions, according to nonprofit lawyers who conduct oversight of immigrant detention centers, the Associated Press reported.

Lawyers have said that some of the minors are sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough mats while others said they had been at the facility for a week or longer, despite the agency’s three-day limit for detaining children.

The lawyers interviewed more than a dozen children Thursday in Donna, Texas, where the Border Patrol is holding more than 1,000 people.

Many reportedly said they haven’t been allowed to phone their parents or other relatives who may be wondering where they are and are kept in close quarters despite the pandemic, waiting days to shower without adequate provisions.

President Joe Biden s administration denied the lawyers access to the tent facility and the Justice Department declined to comment on Thursday on why the lawyers were denied access when contacted by AP.

The Biden administration has not responded to several requests from the AP seeking access to the tent.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday described the ongoing situation at the border as a “challenge” while addressing claims that children were being held for days in “jail-like” facilities.

“While there are no final policy decisions, there are a variety of actions under consideration, including identifying and assessing other licensed facilities that can help add safe capacity for these children,” she said,

She added the administration intends to relaunch the Central American Minors program to accelerate “the unification of children with vetted families — family and sponsors; steps like embedding HHS and ORR in the earlier parts of the process.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:26

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House Democrats says they won’t co-operate with Republicans who made false election fraud claims

Some House Democrats have made clear that they will not engage in bipartisan work with any Republican who went out of their way to question the outcome of the presidential election.

Following Joe Biden’s victory in the 6 November election, an overwhelming number of GOP lawmakers supported claims of Donald Trump to differing degrees in his attacks on the legitimacy of the US vote.

However, those who voted against certifying the election even after the riot on 6 January simply went too far in the eyes of many Democrats.

Massachusetts freshman Representative Jake Auchincloss said he was now googling fellow members of Congress from the other side of the aisle before starting any kind of cooperation across party lines.

“I kind of throw cold water on the whole thing,” if it turns out a GOP member has refused to admit that Joe Biden won the election, he told NBC News.

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:31

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Biden marks anniversary of Breonna Taylor shooting

President Joe Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of Louisville police officers on Saturday, calling her death a “tragedy”.

“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America,” the president posted on Twitter.

“As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress. I remain committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law,” he said.

Taylor, a decorated Emergency Medical Technician, 26, was shot dead by police officers in her apartment in Louisville on 13 March last year during a botched drug raid.

In the wake of Ms Taylor’s death, a grand jury formed by state Attorney General Daniel Cameron charged one officer with putting Ms Taylor’s neighbours in danger but issued no charges related to her death.

Two of the officers who fired shots were dismissed from the department, along with a detective who sought the warrant.

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:36

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‘Jim Crow in a suit and tie’: Stacey Abrams condemns slate of GOP voter suppression laws

Democratic voting rights activist Stacey Abrams has condemned the voting legislation being passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country as “racist” because it tends to target and outlaw voting practices that have directly correlated with higher minority turnout such as mail-in voting and early in-person voting.

Griffin Connolly has the story:

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:39

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Trump thinks he’d be cancelled ‘like Piers’ if he gave opinion on Meghan Markle, aide says

Donald Trump has said he thinks he would be “cancelled like Piers Morgan” if he was to “say anything negative about Meghan Markle” but still insists she is “no good”, according to a report by POLITICO.

The outlet reported that senior adviser Jason Miller recounted a conversation with Mr Trump regarding the bombshell interview with Markle and her husband which aired last week.

“Yeah, she’s no good. I said that and now everybody’s seeing it” the president reportedly said, according to Mr Miller. “But you realise if you say anything negative about Meghan Markle you get cancelled. Look at Piers.”

Louise Hall14 March 2021 14:57

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Democrats bank on relief aid to win back wary working class

“A lot of white, working-class Democrats thought we forgot them,” Joe Biden said after touring a union training facility during a late September swing through Westmoreland County. “I get their sense of being left behind.”

Louise Hall14 March 2021 15:13

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Fauci warns another wave of Covid cases could come, as he argues Trump should tell supporters to get jab

Dr Anthony Fauci warned that the US may face another wave of Covid cases and urged former president Donald Trump to tell his supporters that they should get vaccinated.

Speaking to Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday’, Dr Fauci looked to Europe and the continent’s rising cases as a prelude to what could take place in the United States, adding that Europe “always seem to be a few weeks ahead of us,” and that it’s “absolutely no time to declare victory” over the pandemic.

Dr Fauci added that health officials in Europe “thought they were home free, and they weren’t, and now they are seeing cases going up”.

Dr Fauci said that Mr Trump publicly declaring support for the vaccination effort “would be very helpful for the effort for that to happen. I’m very surprised by the number of Republicans who say they won’t get vaccinated”.

He added that support from Mr Trump “would make all the difference in the world” as “he’s a widely popular person among Republicans,” Dr Fauci said.

Gustaf Kilander14 March 2021 15:32

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Pelosi says Biden left with ‘a broken system at the border’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week” that the Biden Administration inherited “a broken system at the border” as the number of unaccompanied minors who cross the US border with Mexico has increased during recent weeks.

“What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that in the children’s interest,” Ms Pelosi told ABC and added that the situation was a “humanitarian challenge to all of us”.

Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents the westernmost district in Texas, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “what we are seeing is the consequence of four years of dismantling every system in place to address this with humanity and compassion… this is not something that happened as a result of Joe Biden becoming president”.

Ms Pelosi praised the Biden Administration’s decision to send Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border, saying that she was “pleased” that FEMA has stepped in to transfer minors from border facilities to “family homes or homes that are safe for them to be” in.

She said the move was a “transition for what went wrong before to what is right,” and that “there are certain responsibilities that we must honour”.

“We have to have a system that accommodates that, and that is what the Biden administration is in the process of doing,” Ms Pelosi said.

Gustaf Kilander14 March 2021 15:48

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Republican polling firm finds 15 per cent of party identify as ‘Never Trump’ Republicans

Republican polling firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates has found that only 15 per cent of GOP voters hold anti-Trump views as some lawmakers within the party fight to take it back from the faction loyal to the former president.

The poll shows that while 15 per cent of Republican voters identified as “Never Trump” Republicans, 88 per cent approved of the job he did while in office, and a majority of GOP voters, 51 per cent, backed him for the 2024 presidential nomination, Newsweek reported.

As many as 25 per cent of the “Never Trump” Republicans still approved of his job performance as president. The survey divided respondents into categories, with 20 per cent identified as “Post-Trump GOP,” voters, meaning that they like Mr Trump but think the party should move on from his leadership.

The second in line to the 2024 nomination was former vice president Mike Pence, who still came in far behind Mr Trump at nine per cent support. Florida governor Ron DeSantis got the support of seven per cent of GOP voters in the poll.

Gustaf Kilander14 March 2021 16:06

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicts that US can be back near full employment next year

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicted that the US can be back near full employment next year.

Ms Yellen told ABC News: “I’m hopeful that if we defeat this pandemic, we can have the economy back new full employment next year.”

About the $1.9tn Covid relief bill president Biden signed into law Thursday, Ms Yellen said: “There’s enough support in this package to relieve suffering and to get the economy quickly back on track.”

She added: “The most significant risk we face is a workforce that is scarred by a long period of unemployment. People being out of work, not able to find jobs can have a permanent effect on their well-being. I think that’s the most significant risk.”

Amidst a boom in government spending, Ms Yellen addressed inflation concerns, saying “is there a risk of inflation? I think there’s a small risk. And I think it’s manageable… if it materializes, we will certainly monitor for it. But we have tools to address it”.

Gustaf Kilander14 March 2021 16:26

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Trump fans mocked for praising his ‘dreadful’ appearance at Mar-a-Lago event

Donald Trump supporters were mocked on Twitter after they praised the former president’s appearance after he was pictured at a Mar-a-Lago event.

Conservative political commentator and author Nick Adams tweeted that Mr Trump “is looking better than ever before!! He’s getting in shape for 2024 and the liberals are freaking out!!”

However, the former president’s critics didn’t seem convinced as they branded the picture of the president “ “confused, anaemic and like 100”.

Take a look at some of the reactions with Gustaf Kilander:

Louise Hall14 March 2021 16:36

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President urges Americans to continue to wear masks and social distance: ‘It can help save lives’

Joe Biden has put out a plea on Twitter to Americans urging them to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and wash their hands, saying that the measures could “help save lives.”

“It matters whether you continue to wear a mask. It matters whether you continue to socially distance. It matters whether you wash your hands,” Mr Biden wrote on Sunday. “It all matters and can help save lives.”

Louise Hall14 March 2021 16:46

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‘Tucker Carlson is the new Donald Trump,’ Brian Stelter says

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter has said that Fox News host Tucker Carlson has filled the gap that Donald Trump left as an ‘outrage generator’ since departing from the White House.

“Tucker has taken Trump’s place as a right-wing leader, as an outrage generator as a fire fire-starter, and it’s all taking place on Fox, just as Trump’s campaign did,” Mr Stelter said on Sunday.

“Every day, Carlson is throwing bombs, making online memes, offending millions of people also delighting millions of others, tapping into White male rage and resentment, stoking distrust of big tech and the media, generally coursening the discourse, never apologising for anything and setting the GOP’s agenda. Sounds like a recently retired president, right?”

Carlson has made headlines in the past week for controversial comments about pregnant women in the armed forces for which he faced a widespread backlash from high-ranking members.

He also expressed indignation at Joe Biden’s plans for Americans to be able to spend 4 July this year with their families saying: “Who are you talking to? This is a free people, a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”

Louise Hall14 March 2021 17:01

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Stacey Abrams urges lifting filibuster for US election reform bill

Stacey Abrams called on Sunday for the US Senate to exempt election reform legislation passed by the House of Representatives over Republican opposition from a procedural hurdle called the filibuster.

“Protection of democracy is so fundamental that it should be exempt from the filibuster rules,” Ms Abrams told CNN’s State of the Union programme.

The Democratic-led House on 3 March passed a bill intended to reform voting procedures, increase voter participation and require states to assign independent commissions the task of redrawing congressional districts to guard against partisan manipulation.

There is a debate among Democrats, who narrowly control the Senate thanks to the two Georgia victories, on whether to modify or even eliminate the filibuster, a longstanding fixture that makes it so most legislation cannot advance without 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate rather than a simple majority.

The filibuster already has been scaled back and does not apply to judicial or Cabinet appointments and some budgetary measures, Ms Abrams noted, so it should be suspended for the voting rights legislation.

Democratic President Joe Biden has said he would sign the election legislation into law if it is passed by Congress but also has indicated opposition to completely eliminating the filibuster.

The House-passed bill faces long odds in the Senate under current rules, where all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them would need to be joined by 10 of the 50 Republican senators to overcome a filibuster.

Democrats have argued that the legislation is necessary to lower barriers to voting and to make the US political system more democratic and responsive to the needs of voters. Republicans have said it would take powers away from the states, and have promised to fight it if it becomes law.

Louise Hall14 March 2021 17:08

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Young Republicans more hesitant to get Covid vaccine, new poll says

In a nationally representative sample of 2,382 US residents interviewed between 10 and 13 March, Republicans and conservatives were the most likely group to express hesitancy, the broadcaster said.

Under half (47 per cent) of Republicans polled they would receive the Covid vaccine when it became eligible to them, in comparison to 71 per cent of Democrats. Thirty-three per cent of Republicans said they would not receive the vaccine.

However, the broadcaster stipulated that there was a clear difference by age, with older Republicans more likely to express willingness to get their shots. 

Louise Hall14 March 2021 17:24

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Why is the Republican Party so obsessed with children?

Tucker Carlson and his GOP friends can’t realistically paint Joe Biden as a Stalinist puppet — so they’ve turned to the oldest trick in the book, argues Andrew Naughtie:

Louise Hall14 March 2021 17:29



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