Hunter Biden shrugs off Trumps’ criticism
The White House announced its border coordinator, who was leading the Biden administration’s attempts at halting the surge of migrants, would step down at the end of the month. The announcement on late Friday came just hours after border czar Robert Jacobson outlined the president’s plans to approach US companies to invest in Mexico and Central America to reduce migration.
Joe Biden, meanwhile, announced a $1.5trn budget proposal for 2022, with a 16 per cent increase in domestic spending. The White House outlined the proposal in its “discretionary request”, which is separate from Biden’s latest $2trn spending bill, and the $1.9trn coronavirus aid bill recently passed by the Senate.
The president also ordered a 180-day study of the Supreme Court that includes the possibility of adding more justices. Increasing the number of justices, colloquially known as “packing the court”, could reverse the current conservative majority into a progressive majority, or, depending on the results of future elections, create a supermajority for one side or the other.
Newly reported emails between Trump administration officials show them bragging about persuading or pressuring the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to alter its releases on Covid-19 transmission and deaths among younger Americans.
As he continues to promote his new memoir detailing his story of grief, addiction and recovery, Hunter Biden used an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last night to take a sideways shot at the Trump family, mocking Donald Trump Jr for accusing him of nepotism – an accusation he mocked as “wildly comical” given the source.
As he writes in his book: “Do you think if any of the Trump children ever tried to get a job outside of their father’s business that his name wouldn’t figure into the calculation? My response has always been to work harder so that my accomplishments stand on their own.”
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has begun a lawsuit against the Biden administration to overturn a no-sailing directive that is depriving his state’s cruise industry of billions of dollars. Mr DeSantis, who has long been a critic of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, said at a press conference yesterday that “we don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data”.
- Hunter Biden mocks ‘wildly comical’ Don Jr in Kimmel interview
- Video shows Donald and Melania Trump meeting man accused in Matt Gaetz trafficking scandal
- Emails reveal how Trump officials celebrated getting CDC to change official language on Covid risks
- Q unmasked: Did the QAnon conspiracy founder start life as a shy kid from Washington?
Welcome to our live coverage of the Biden administration, Capitol Hill, and the whole spectrum of American politics.
Carry on cruising
Ron DeSantis’s lawsuit against the Biden administration is specifically targeted at saving the cruise industry, but the governor’s announcement of it made clear that he and his administration are taking aim at compulsory public health-focused restrictions in general.
“No federal law authorises the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry,” he said. “This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”
Read more here:
‘Allow our cruise liners to safely set sail again’
Reaction to Biden’s gun orders continues
Based on the intensity of the response to Mr Biden’s six executive orders on gun safety – and indeed, the euphoria and rage that preceded them – we can expect more analysis and argument today. For now, many on the right are focusing on their basic argument that the president is violating the second amendment, something Mr Biden addressed head-on yesterday.
Dismissing that claim as “a phony argument” and “bizarre” given the amendment’s true history, Mr Biden yesterday called gun violence “an epidemic and an international embarrassment”.
Expert witness: George Floyd “had no oxygen in his body"
The prosecution witnesses in the trial of Derek Chauvin so far have given devastating testimony, but yesterday saw a particularly stunning blow. Whereas many defenders of Mr Chauvin have claimed that Mr Floyd may have died from some underlying cause, including drug use, forensic medical expert Dr Bill Smock said bluntly that “Mr Floyd died of positional asphyxia, which is a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen in his body.”
Another expert witness, pulmonologist Dr Martin Tobin, came to a similar conclusion.
“Mr Floyd died from a low level of oxygen,” he said. “It’s like the left side is in a vice. It’s totally being totally pushed in, squeezed in from each side.”
And with a sentence that directly hits a key argument put forward by Mr Chauvin’s defenders: “A healthy person subjected to what Mr Floyd was subjected to would’ve died as a result.”
Mr Smock, a forensic medical specialist and police training doctor, is the second expert today to say Mr Floyd died because he couldn’t breathe
Gaetzgate gets deeper
Matt Gaetz, the Florida congressman embroiled in an ever-more-complicated sex scandal involving at least one underage girl, is “feeling very uncomfortable” – at least according to the lawyer representing his sometime associate Joel Greenberg, who faces federal child sex trafficking charges of his own.
As a 2019 video resurfaced showing Donald and Melania Trump meeting another key player in the scandal, Jason Pirozzolo, Mr Gaetz tweeted out a strange statement from “we, the women of Congressman Matt Gaetz’s Office”.
“Congressman Gaetz has always been a principled and morally grounded leader,” it read. “At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness.”
Meanwhile, a former staffer to Bill Clinton has taken out a billboard targeting Mr Gaetz with an outrageous statement...
Ad was paid for by liberal political action committee ‘Mad Dog’, chaired by a former Clinton White House staffer
Tucker Carlson shares “replacement” theory and displays intimate Hunter Biden photos
It was a lurid night on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. The host crossed two particularly shocking lines, both showing lurid pictures ostensibly from Hunter Biden’s laptop – something that critics have compared to “revenge porn” – and approvingly discussing the “great replacement” theory, a white supremacist canard that claims left-wing Democrats are conspiring to demographically re-engineer the US by allowing in Latino people.
On the latter point, he drew a strange comparison with childhood.
“If you were in sixth grade, for example, and without telling you your parents adopted a bunch of new siblings, and gave them brand new bikes, and let them stay up late or helped them with their homework and gave them twice the allowance that they gave you, you would say to your siblings, ‘I think we’re being replaced by kids that our parents love more.’”
Joe Biden calls for “calm” as Northern Ireland violence continues
The White House has added its voice to the list of governments calling on unionists and loyalists in Northern Ireland to end the violence that has now been going on for several days.
“We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki yesterday, “wand we join the British, Irish, and Northern Irish leaders in their calls for calm.”
‘We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland, and we join the British, Irish, and Northern Irish leaders in their calls for calm,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says
To understand what’s causing the clashes on the streets of Belfast and Derry, here’s an explainer. Follow our dedicated live blog here.
Simmering tensions over Brexit and allegations of ‘two-tier policing’ spark return of disturbing scenes many hoped were gone forever
New Tennessee law goes easy on handgun owners
Amid the fanfare over Joe Biden’s new gun orders came a major legal change in Tennessee, whose governor signed into law a bill that allows most adults over 21 to carry handguns with few checks or requirements.
Tennessee has become the latest state to allow most adults 21 and older carry handguns without first clearing a background check and training
Hunter Biden’s TV book tour continues
Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been promoting his memoir of grief and addiction on the airwaves this week, and last night appeared with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to talk about his experiences.
Explaining that he wrote the book “to humanise people suffering from addiction” and as “a love letter to the people that are loving someone that’s struggling with addiction. Because it’s so hard for them to understand why it is that their love just can’t get through”.
He and Mr Kimmel also found time to kick around the vicious criticism he’s taken from the Trump family – though Mr Biden insisted that “I don’t spend too much time thinking about them.”
Signs of movement in cases against Capitol insurrectionists
CNN reports that federal prosecutors have been given the go-ahead from the Department of Justice to negotiate plea bargains with defendants charged with taking part in the 6 January storming of the US Capitol.
There is so much evidence, including hours upon hours of video, that many of the cases aren’t thought to be disputable enough to take to trial.
Federal prosecutors get the green light to start offering plea deals to Capitol riot defendants, attorneys say
Federal prosecutors have informed some Capitol riot defendants the Justice Department has given the green-light to cut guilty plea deals, a step toward bringing the first of the hundreds of cases to a close, according to attorneys involved in the talks.
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