Biden stands by Putin removal comment but insists he’s not changing policy
Joe Biden is speaking with Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The call comes after Mr Biden remarked that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”, and as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators discuss a de-escalation agreement that could see Russia draw down forces from the area near Kyiv.
After his call with the Ukrainian president, Mr Biden will give a speech on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US. The FDA has just given clearance to a second booster shot for all Americans over 50 and those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus,
Meanwhile, after contentious nomination hearings that saw Republican senators harangue her about critical race theory and her record sentencing sexual offenders who targeted children, 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 Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee.
The news all but guarantees Ms Jackson’s confirmation. She has already secured the support of West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who was thought to be the likeliest of his party’s 50 senators to withhold his support.
Why the FDA approved another Covid booster
The FDA’s decision to approve a second booster shot – which Joe Biden is set to receive on camera later today – for the over-50s comes as a new “sibling” to the omicron variant drives up case numbers in Europe. The US’s numbers remain low, and the standard two-doses-and-a-booster model still provides good protection against serious illness, but clearly the regulators are still inclined toward caution even as much of life returns to something like a pre-pandemic normal.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 16:48
Biden to receive second Covid booster
As Joe Biden prepares to address the US on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic, he is also preparing to receive his second booster shot – this after the FDA gave the go-ahead for another dose for all Americans over 50.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 16:18
White House: Biden to speak with Zelensky
The White House says that Joe Biden will shortly be speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to discuss our continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.” The two will presumably also discuss Mr Biden’s remark that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 15:44
Biden administration recalibrating on Russia’s nuclear strategy
The “kinetic” aspect of the Ukrainian conflict has so far played out almost entirely in Ukrainian territory, but the implications for the world’s strategic balance are still huge – particularly in the nuclear realm, with Vladimir Putin putting his nuclear forces on a “special regime of combat duty” just two days after his army invaded the neighbouring country.
The Biden administration and other Nato governments are now trying to rework their strategy for a Russian nuclear escalation, or even an accident involving nuclear reactors or waste storage facilities damaged by the invading forces.
Jonathan Tirone has this report.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 15:32
GOP Senator: Joe Biden should stop talking
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a hardcore right-wing Republican, has laid into Joe Biden over his unscripted line declaring that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”.
“I genuinely think it would be best for all involved, to include Joe Biden, but especially for the American people, if the president would simply stop speaking publicly in an extemporaneous fashion,” he said in an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt yesterday, adding that he doesn’t think the president should “adlib” or even “take questions or do press conferences”.
“If we could get three years of Joe Biden speaking in deliberate fashion on words that have been carefully reviewed and vetted … that would be safer than what happened over the last five days.”
Mr Cotton’s grandiose suggestion flies in the face of criticism from many on the right who have long tried to claim Mr Biden is overly resistant to speaking to the press or answering questions.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 15:15
More from Susan Collins on backing Ketanji Brown Jackson
Susan Collins’s office has released a full statement on her decision to vote for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. In it, the senator makes the point that she will not agree with Ms Brown Jackson’s every vote, but that “that alone, however, is not disqualifying”.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 14:49
Preview of Biden’s Covid speech
CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang has this intel on Joe Biden’s upcoming speech on the administration’s response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 14:14
ICYMI: Biden signs law making lynching a federal hate crime
Joe Biden yesterday signed a bill that makes lynching a federal hate crime, a measure that has been waiting to pass into law for more than a century.
Named for Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose brutal 1955 murder helped galvanise the civil rights movement, the bill faced only seven “no” votes in the House of Representatives and passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
“From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery, to countless acts of violence, countless victims both known and unknown … racial hate is not an old problem, it’s a persistent problem,” Mr Biden said at the signing ceremony. “Hate never goes away. It only hides, it hides under the rocks. Given just a little bit of oxygen it comes roaring back out, screaming. What stops it is all of us, not a few.”
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 13:39
Susan Collins to vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson
In a development that all but assures Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee will be confirmed, Maine Republican Susan Collins has said she will vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson when the vote to put her on the bench comes to the Senate floor.
Ms Brown Jackson has already secured the support of Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator who was thought the most likely to withhold his backing.
Eric Garcia has the news:
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 13:17
Analysis: How Joe Biden can bridge gap on police funding
Joe Biden’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes more than $3bn for law enforcement, making good on the president’s promise at the State of the Union that he would fund, not defund, the police. The move raises the prospect of a serious clash with the vocal and organised “defund” wing of the Democratic Party, but as Eric Garcia writes, the gap may not be unbridgeable.
Andrew Naughtie30 March 2022 12:45