Posts tagged with "President Joe Biden"

Biden pardons thousands convicted of marijuana possession, orders review of federal laws

October 10, 2022

On Thursday, October 6, President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of people convicted of possessing marijuana—saying the current system “makes no sense” and sending weed stocks soaring, reports CNBC.

The pardons apply only to federal offenders convicted of “simple marijuana possession” as well as those charged in the District of Columbia—but Biden called on governors across the country to follow suit.

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” Biden said in a statement.

More than 6,500 people with prior convictions for simple marijuana possession were impacted by the pardons, a White House official said, and thousands more through pardons under D.C. law. The pardons will not be extended to those who weren’t U.S. citizens and were illegally in the country at the time of their arrest.

Cannabis companies Tilray Brands and Canopy Growth both spiked on the news—gaining 30% and 22%, respectively, in afternoon trading. As of Thursday’s close, however, each stock still traded for less than $4 per share.

In addition to the pardons, Biden announced that he has instructed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to begin reviewing how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.

Biden noted that marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 substance under federal drug sentencing guidelines, “the same as heroin and LSD—and more serious than fentanyl,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

The Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney will take the lead on administering Biden’s proclamation, an agency spokesperson—noting that, in the coming days, the office will implement a formal process to provide pardoned individuals with a certificate of pardon.

The proclamation also formally restored to these individuals all the political, civil, and other rights that were denied to them as felons.

“There are thousands of people who were convicted for marijuana possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result,” Biden said. “My pardon will remove this burden on them.”

The relatively small number of people who were actually pardoned Thursday obscures the massive role that marijuana plays in the American criminal justice system.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Biden, DeSantis pause political disputes to highlight hurricane response

October 7, 2022

President Joe Biden joined a top political rival, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, in assessing damage from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, October 5—setting disagreements aside as the governor repeatedly thanked the Administration for its support, reports The Wall Street Journal.

 “I think we’ve worked as well across state, local, and federal of any disaster that I’ve seen,” said DeSantis; who is widely viewed as a possible challenger to Biden, if he seeks reelection in 2024. “We are cutting through the red tape, and that’s from local government, state government all the way up to the president, so we appreciate the team effort.”

 Biden said unprecedented resources have been devoted to the recovery and damaged areas would come out better. “We have very different political philosophies, but we worked hand-in-glove,” Biden said of DeSantis.

 DeSantis and his wife, Casey, joined Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a briefing in Fort Myers, Florida, shaking hands with them before spending several minutes walking around and separately meeting with residents who had been affected by the hurricane. The governor stood behind Biden when the president delivered remarks. Biden also took an aerial tour of the damage without DeSantis present.

Hurricane Ian has resulted in dozens of deaths and left thousands without power or water, with estimates putting the economic damage at well over $100 billion.

 Research contact: @WSJ

Biden: Trump and allies threaten America’s democracy

Seeptember 5, 2022

Speaking in Philadelphia on Thursday, September 1, President Joe Biden warned that former President Donald Trump and his allies are threatening to undermine the nation’s democracy—using a prime-time address to lay out his concerns for the country’s future when millions of Americans have questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Standing in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden directly condemned what he called “MAGA Republicans”—citing the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters and saying, “As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault.”

The speech came just before the traditional Labor Day start of the midterm election campaign season and was delivered from a key battleground state.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” he said. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

Biden sought to draw a distinction between Republicans allied with Trump and others in the party. He called people from all parties to “unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.”

Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, and Biden is seeking to turn the elections into a choice for voters between his party and that of Republicans, who have criticized his leadership and have said Democrats are trying to distract from the more central issues of inflation and economic unrest.

The speech came during one of three visits that Biden is making to Pennsylvaniain the course of a week. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the state for GOP candidates Saturday.

Responding after the speech, Trump posted the following message on Truth Social: “Someone should explain to Joe Biden, slowly but passionately, that MAGA means, as powerfully as mere words can get, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!”

Research contact: @WSJ

Sources: White House could declare climate emergency as soon as Wednesday

July 20, 2022

President Joe Biden could declare a climate emergency as soon as Wednesday, July 20, two sources familiar with the plans told The Hill on Tuesday.

One of the sources said that federal agencies are expecting an executive order declaring a climate emergency as soon as tomorrow, but it’s not entirely clear what it will entail.

A second source also said the declaration could come on Wednesday. A third person confirmed that a climate emergency declaration was under consideration by the White House, as first reported by  The Washington Post. 

Asked for comment, a White House official said that many options are under consideration. “The President made clear that if the Senate doesn’t act to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, he will. We are considering all options and no decision has been made,” the person said in an email.

Research contact: @thehill

‘It wouldn’t be my choice for judge’: Senate Democrats slam Biden’s planned anti-abortion pick

July 13, 2022

Several Senate Democrats said on Monday, July 11, that they planned to vote against the confirmation of a conservative, anti-abortion federal judge nominee if President Joe Biden follows through with a purported deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports USA Today. 

The strong reaction from Democrats on Biden’s planned nomination of attorney Chad Meredith in Kentucky raised the prospects that the president’s own party could block the pick, should he move forward.

“All I’m going to tell you is I’m going to vote no,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday. “It’s his call, but if he asked me for my advice I would say I don’t know how many Democrats are planning on voting yes.”

Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, a Federal Society attorney who has fought against abortion rights.  But—as first reported exclusively by The Courier Journal—a White House official informed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear‘s office in an email on June 23 that the Biden Administration planned to nominate Meredith to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kentucky’s Eastern District the next day.

The next morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shock waves across the nation. Meredith’s intended nomination was not announced or submitted.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up federal judicial nominations, said he spoke last week to the White House about the potential Meredith nomination.

“What’s in it for us? They didn’t give a specific answer,” Durbin told reporters, according to Politico. He said Democrats would not support Meredith’s confirmation “on his merits alone.”

Durbin told USA TODAY he needs to “know more,” including whether there was any arrangement with McConnell, adding: “It wouldn’t be my choice for judge.”

Biden could try to win support of a Meredith nomination with Republican votes in an evenly divided Senate. But a president fighting his own party for a lower-court judicial nominee would be highly unusual, and he would have to overcome a Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

McConnell has refused to comment until Biden officially submits a nominee, but his camp has dismissed talk of a deal as “false information.”

Biden’s potential nomination of Meredith has fueled a backlash from progressive activists who have demanded bolder action from the Biden Administration after the Supreme Court decision.

Several pro-abortion-rights groups have called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and demanded Biden not move ahead with it.

nominated,” Brown said. “He should not send the name on.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Senators reach bipartisan deal on gun safety

June 14, 2022

It’s a small, but significant, start: Senate negotiators announced on Sunday, June 12, that they had struck a bipartisan deal on a narrow set of gun safety measures with sufficient support to move through the evenly divided chamber—a compelling step toward ending a yearslong Congressional impasse on the issue, reports The New York Times.

The agreement—put forth by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats and endorsed by President Joe Biden and top Democrats—includes enhanced background checks to give authorities time to check the juvenile and mental health records of any prospective gun buyer under the age of 21; and a provision that would, for the first time, extend to dating partners a prohibition on domestic abusers having guns.

It also would provide funding for states to enact so-called red-flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous, as well as money for mental health resources and to bolster safety and mental health services at schools.

The outline has yet to be finalized and still faces what the Times characterizes as “a perilous path in Congress,” given the deep partisan divide on gun measures and the political stakes of the issue. It falls far short of the sprawling reforms that Biden, gun control activists, and a majority of Democrats have long championed, such as a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks.

And it is nowhere near as sweeping as a package of gun measures passed almost along party lines in the House last week, which would bar the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under the age of 21, ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and enact a federal red-flag law, among other steps.

But it amounts to notable progress to begin bridging the considerable gulf between the two political parties on how to address gun violence, which has resulted in a string of failed legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, where Republican opposition has thwarted action for years.

Democrats hailed the plan, which also would toughen federal laws to stop gun trafficking and ensure that all commercial sellers are doing background checks, as an opportunity to pass the most significant gun safety legislation in decades.

“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the 20 senators, led by Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said in a joint statement, adding, “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”

The backing of 10 Republicans suggested that the plan could scale an obstacle that no other proposal currently under discussion has been able to: drawing the 60 votes necessary to break through a GOP filibuster and survive to see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who has played a central role in stymieing gun safety measures in recent years, praised what he called “headway” in the discussions even as he was noncommittal about whether he would ultimately support the package.

“The principles they announced today show the value of dialogue and cooperation,” Mr. McConnell said. “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate and makes a difference for our country.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Pentagon devises plans to send troops to protect U.S. Embassy in Kyiv

May 25, 2022

Plans to send U.S. forces back into Ukraine to guard the recently reopened American Embassy in Kyiv are “underway at a relatively low level,” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced on May 23, reports The Hill.

The Wall Street Journal first mentioned on Sunday that officials are mulling plans to send special forces to Kyiv to guard the U.S. Embassy. The effort is a delicate one, as it requires balancing the safety of American diplomats while avoiding what Russia could see as an escalation.

“Some of the things that may have been out there in the media, those are planning efforts that are underway at a relatively low level,” Milley told reporters at the Pentagon, seeming to refer to the Journal’s report.

Such plans “have not yet made it to [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] or myself for that matter, for refinement of courses of action and what’s needed,” he noted. 

Milley added that any reintroduction of U.S. forces into Ukraine would require a presidential decision.  

“We’re a ways away from anything like that. We’re still developing courses of action, and none of that has been presented yet to the secretary,” he said.  

The Biden Administration last week reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv after closing it ahead of Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The embassy’s security currently comes from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Journal reported.

President Joe Biden has pledged consistently that no U.S. troops will be sent into Ukraine to help forces there, although there are thousands of service members based just outside its borders in countries including Poland and Romania.

Milley said there are now about 102,000 American troops based in Europe—a more than 30% increase since the war began.

“Last fall the United States military had about 78,000 in [U.S. European Command]—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Space Force,” Milley said. “In a few short months, we bolstered that by over 30%.”

Rsearch contact: @thehill

Biden finalizes restrictions on ‘ghost guns,’ names new ATF nominee

April 13, 2022

President Joe Biden announced new restrictions on homemade guns known as “ghost guns,” as well as a new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Monday, April 11, reports NBC News.

The new rule would require makers of gun kits to include a serial number on the firearms and would mandate that sellers follow the same standard as with other guns, including requiring a background check for purchase.

“These guns are the weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said. “We are going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice.”

Biden also said he would nominate former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach to be head of the ATF, which has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2015.

The announcement comes nearly one year to the day after Biden announced from the White House the proposed rule on ghost guns and the nomination of a different ATF head, David Chipman. Biden blamed lobbying from gun rights advocates for delaying the finalization of the rule.

The White House withdrew Chipman from consideration in September following unanimous opposition from Republicans.

Biden pledged during his campaign to make stricter gun control measures, like universal background checks, a priority if elected.

But many of those changes require action from Congress, where lawmakers have been unable to reach a compromise on stricter gun control measures. Gun control advocates have been pushing the White House to go further.

“The president has done more to fight gun violence and keep our community safe than any president in history in his first year in office,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday, adding that the issue was obviously one “that is close to his heart, something he’s passionate about and has been for decades.”

Biden said his administration is continuing to go after gun dealers who do not follow the law and gun trafficking across state lines, and is calling for additional funding for community policing programs and the hiring of more police officers.

“The answer is not to defund the police. It is to fund the police and give them the tools and training and support they need to be better partners and protectors of our communities,” Biden said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Mo Brooks hits back: ‘Trump demanded I kick Biden out of White House’

March 25, 2022

Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) hit back at his former pal Donald Trump on March 23 with an extraordinary allegation: In the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss, the former president demanded that Brooks immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, reinstall Trump, and then hold a brand new election for the presidency, reports The Daily Beast.

Brooks made the accusation in a statement released after Trump ranted that Brooks “went ‘woke’” and “made a horrible mistake” by calling for people to get over the former president’s 2020 election loss.

In a typically vindictive statement, the twice-impeached former president revoked his endorsement for Brooks in Alabama’s U.S. Senate primary, saying it was “very sad” that Brooks—who was accused of helping to organize the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place before the deadly Capitol riot—had “decided to go in a different direction.”

He blasted Brooks for telling attendees at an Alabama rally to move on from Trumpworld’s relentless grievances over the 2020 election.

“Referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam,” Trump fumed, Brooks said, “Put that behind you, put that behind you.”

“The 2020 Election was rigged, and we can’t let them get away with that,” Trump wrote, claiming Brooks’ “unstoppable” lead in the Senate race had disappeared because of his comments.

Brooks made the comments way back in August. He nevertheless hit back on Wednesday, insisting it was Trump, not him, who had changed.

“When the President calls me ‘woke,’ there’s not anybody in Alabama with a brain larger than the size of a pea who believes that Mo Brooks is a woke liberal,” he told ABC News in a tweet.

In a statement, he claimed Trump was being manipulated by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) into attacking Brooks. “Every single negative TV ad against our campaign has come from McConnell and his allies. I wish President Trump wouldn’t fall for McConnell’s ploys but, once again, he has,” he said.

Then Brooks went even further—accusing Trump of asking him to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately reinstall Trump, and hold a new special election for the presidency. In further comments to ABC, Brooks claimed Trump repeatedly asked him repeatedly “off and on since Sept. 2021” to re-do the election.

“As a lawyer, I’ve repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period,” he said in his statement.

“I’ve told President Trump the truth knowing full well that it might cause [him] to rescind his endorsement. But I took a sworn oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution. I honor my oath. That is the way I am. I break my sworn oath for no man.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Biden orders lawmaker access to Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6

February 17, 2022

President Joe Biden has directed the National Archives to release to Congress former President Donald Trump’s White House visitor logs for January 6—rejecting his predecessor’s claims that the logs are subject to executive privilege, reports Bloomberg. 

“The president has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,” White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote in a February 15 letter to David Ferriero, the national archivist of the United States.

Remus directed Ferriero to turn over the records within 15 days of providing notice to Trump, barring a court order. 

“The majority of the entries over which the former president has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” she said.

The panel probing the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested logs for White House visitors on that and other days, as well as other Trump-era records. 

A spokesperson for the committee had no immediate comment Wednesday. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court last month rejected Trump’s bid to block the release of records to the January 6 panel—a victory for the committee and its Democratic chairman, Bennie Thompson. In addition to the visitor logs, the investigative committee has requested all photographs, videos, and other media; including any digital time stamps, taken or recorded within the White House that day.

Trump sought to override Biden’s earlier decision to waive executive privilege and argued that a former president’s need for privacy can outweigh the views of the current chief executive.

The committee has been focusing on the false claims that Trump and his allies pushed about the election outcome and how that played roles in stoking the violence on January 6, 2021. Trump’s lawyers argued that the release “would be a substantial blow to the institution of the presidency.”

In an unsigned, one-paragraph order, the high court said the case didn’t offer the opportunity to decide that question because a lower court found that Trump’s claim would be rejected even if he were still in office. Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, was the only dissent.

The committee agreed to treat entries associated with sensitive appointments, including those related to national security, as confidential and to refrain from sharing or discussing them without prior consultation, Remus wrote. The committee also will receive the records without birth dates or social security numbers.

Research contact: @Bloomberg