Democrats and Republicans agree on plan to suspend trade relations with Russia and Belarus – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Democrats and Republicans agree on plan to suspend trade relations with Russia and Belarus – live” was written by Vivian Ho, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th March 2022 18.47 UTC

Joe Biden attracted criticism from both progressives and Republicans after a report indicated the White House was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss global oil supply.

Axios reported on Sunday that Biden’s senior advisers were considering a spring trip to Saudi Arabia in an effort to improve relations and to propose a potential increase in oil exports. The Biden administration did not confirm. The White House did not respond to a Guardian request for a comment.

The report comes as the US and its western allies consider banning imports of Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The White House had dismissed a ban, out of concern for how it would limit oil supply and further drive up gas prices which have already hit a 14-year US high.

Full story:

Barr: Trump is full of bull – but I’ll vote for him

Donald Trump’s last attorney general, William Barr, told the former president he was “like a bull in a bull ring” and “someone’s going to come and put a sword through your head”.

In return, Trump called his former attorney general a “horse” who had been “broken” by the radical left.

Such was the state of debate in the upper echelons of the Republican party on Monday as it digested the latest round of reporting from Barr’s promotion of his memoir One Damn Thing After Another, which will be published on Tuesday. It has been extensively trailed – including by the Guardian.

On the page and in interviews, Barr says Trump is unfit for the presidency and should not be the Republican nominee in 2024.

Speaking to NBC in interviews broadcast on Sunday and Monday, Barr also repeated his conclusion that Trump’s claims of voter fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden were baseless –he has used the word “bullshit” – while skating over criticism for using the Department of Justice to investigate such lies.

He said Trump was “responsible in the broad sense of that word” for the deadly Capitol riot that grew from his refusal to concede defeat and over which he was impeached, a second time, for inciting an insurrection.

“It appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill,” Barr said, of the storming of Congress by Trump supporters around which seven people died. “I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress. And I think that that was wrong.”

But he also said: “I haven’t seen anything to say he was legally responsible for it in terms of incitement.”

Barr remains a staunch conservative. On Monday, he told NBC that despite it all, if Trump was the Republican nominee in 2024, he would vote for him.

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Summary

  • On Day 12 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Washington mulls whether to ban Russian oil imports into the US. House speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the House would pursue legislation into the matter this week, while Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said the US was in active discussions with its European partners – who are much more dependent on Russian oil than the US and could be pushed into a recession if the US banned imports – about this possible tactics. This morning, sources were telling Reuters that though the White House was previously hesitant, given the skyrocketing gas prices across the country, the Biden administration is willing to move forward on a ban without the participation of its European partners.
  • Amid these tensions, Joe Biden had a video teleconference with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
  • Congress has indicated that it plans to take aggressive action in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the $10bn aid request to Ukraine included in the $1.5tn omnibus package that must be passed ahead of the 11 March deadline for government funding. The leaders of the House ways and means committee and the Senate finance committee announced they would be introducing bipartisan legislation that will suspend trade relations with Russia and Belarus.

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Lawmakers announce bipartisan legislation to suspend trade relations with Russia, Belarus

Congressmen Richard Neal and Kevin Brady – the Democratic chair and Republican leader of the House ways and means committee, respectively – and senators Ron Wyden and Mike Crapo – the Democratic chair and the Republican ranking member of the Senate finance committee, respectively – have announced a bipartisan agreement on legislation that will suspend trade relations with Russia and Belarus.

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Federal prosecutors were expected to make closing arguments today in the first jury trial of someone charged with joining in the 6 January attack of the US Capitol.

Guy Reffitt of Texas, the first of some 750 people charged with joining the riot to face trial in Washington, has been charged with carrying a semi-automatic handgun while on Capitol grounds and obstructing justice by threatening his children with harm if they reported him to authorities.

About 200 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the attack. Read more here:

Here’s a good list of some brands that have cut ties with Russia in the days since the invasion:

Joe Biden is in a video teleconference with Emmanuel Macron, president of France; Olaf Scholz, chancellor of Germany; and Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom.

It should be an interesting chat, given the recent report that Biden is willing to move forward with a ban on Russian oil imports, even without the participation of the country’s European allies – many of whom will be deeply affected by such a ban and could possibly be pushed into a recession.

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Report: White House willing to move ahead with ban on Russian oil imports

Reuters is reporting that the Biden administration is willing to move ahead with a ban on Russian oil imports into the US, even without the participation of its European allies.

This development comes as the House plans to take up a bill on the issue this week, amid skyrocketing gasoline prices across the country – more than $4 a gallon on average and more than $5 in California alone.

The White House had previously been reluctant to push for a full ban of all Russian oil imports because of these price surges, even though the US is the least affected – Europe gets at least 25% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas from Russia. This weekend, US officials made a trip to Venezuela to discuss resuming oil imports from there to help replace Russia oil.

Blinken: ‘We will defend every inch of Nato territory if it comes under attack’

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, reaffirmed the US’ commitment to the Nato alliance, standing with the leaders of Lithuania and Latvia in a joint press conference and assuring them that the US will stand with the Baltics against any Russian aggression.

“The United States is more committed than ever to standing with you as our democracies rise to the challenge,” he said.

Blinken continued: “We will defend every inch of Nato territory if it comes under attack. No one should doubt our readiness. No one should doubt our resolve.”

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden’s nominee for the supreme court, is meeting with senators ahead of her senate confirmation hearings in two week.

Mark Meadows played a key role in supporting and advancing Donald Trump’s lie about widespread electoral fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden, but the former White House chief of staff may have committed such fraud himself.

According to the New Yorker, Meadows registered to vote at a property in North Carolina at which he appears never to have lived.

Meadows resigned from the US House and became Trump’s fourth and last chief of staff in March 2020. He registered to vote in September, the New Yorker said.

Asked for the address “where you physically live”, the magazine said, Meadows “wrote down the address of a 14ft-by-62ft mobile home in Scaly Mountain”, North Carolina, and “listed his move-in date for this address as the following day, 20 September”.

“Meadows does not own this property and never has,” the New Yorker said. “It is not clear that he has ever spent a single night there.”

Meadows did not comment to the magazine. The New Yorker spoke to the home’s former and current owners and neighbors and said that while members of Meadows’ family may have spent time in the property, it was not clear he ever slept there.

The current owner said: “I’ve made a lot of improvements. But when I got it, it was not the kind of place you’d think the chief of staff of the president would be staying.”

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Updated

In a speech to Republican donors in New Orleans, Donald Trump said the US should put the Chinese flag on F-22 jets and “bomb the shit out of Russia” in retribution for its invasion of Ukraine.

The Washington Post reported the remarks, which were made on Saturday night.

To laughter, the paper said, the former president said: “And then we say, ‘China did it, we didn’t do it, China did it,’ and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch.”

According to the Post, Trump also called Nato a “paper tiger”, said the US military had won “skirmishes” against Russian troops while he was president, and claimed to have been tougher on Vladimir Putin than any other US leader.

Trump has faced severe criticism for praising the Russian leader since the invasion began. He has also said the invasion was wrong.

In his speech to “about 250 of the Republican party’s top donors at the elite Four Seasons” hotel, the Post said, Trump echoed GOP talking points against Joe Biden, claiming Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he, Trump, had still been in power.

“I knew Putin very well,” Trump said. “He would not have done it. He would have never done it.”

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Updated

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has sent out a letter to colleagues on the week ahead, noting that Senate will vote on postal service reform and that “Democrats have made a reasonable global offer to Republicans” regarding an omnibus package on government funding ahead of the 11 March deadline.

“We have been working on a bipartisan, bicameral basis through the weekend to finish work on an omnibus package that includes robust assistance to the people and government of Ukraine and additional funds to ensure our country is prepared if and when the next Covid variant strikes,” he wrote.

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Congress considers Ukraine aide and Russia oil ban, putting pressure on Biden

Ahoy there, live blog readers. Happy Monday.

Now on day 12 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, much of the agenda in Congress is focused on how to provide aid for Ukraine while taking a strong stand against Russia.

Up first is a $10bn request for funding from the White House which, according to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in a Sunday letter, will be included as part of the a $1.5tn omnibus package – yes, government funding expires at the end of this week.

But Pelosi also wrote that the House will take up a bill to ban the import of Russian oil – something the White House has been reluctant to push for, with oil prices skyrocketing across the country (with a $0.70 increase over just the past month, average gasoline prices are up to $4 per gallon and more than $5 a gallon in California).

A US ban on Russian oil would send a strong message to Russia, for sure, but could also push Europe, which imports about 40% of its natural gas from Russia and 25% of its oil, into a recession.

However, Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday the US is in “very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries, while of course, at the same time, maintaining a steady global supply of oil”.

When asked if the US has ruled out banning Russian oil imports, Blinken responded: “I’m not going to rule out taking action one way or another, irrespective of what they do, but everything we’ve done, the approach starts with coordinating with allies and partners.”

Stay tuned for more.

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