And we finally have a statement from Donald Trump about Bill Barr, his second attorney general and the author of a book, out next week but extensively trailed, in which he says his former boss was unfit to be president and still will be if he chooses to run again.
In Trump’s words, Barr…
… wouldn’t know voter fraud if it was staring him in the face – and it was. The fact is, he was weak, ineffective, and totally scared of being impeached, which the Democrats were constantly threatening to do. They ‘broke’ him. He should have acted much faster on the Mueller Report, instead of allowing the fake Russia, Russia, Russia, Hoax to linger for so long, but it was the Election Fraud and Irregularities that he refused to act on because he wanted to save his own hide – and he did. He never got impeached, contempt charges never went forward, and the Democrats were very happy with him – but I wasn’t.
In Barr’s words – and to be fair, the words of many others – Trump’s lie about election fraud was just that, a lie. Barr resigned on 14 December 2020, at a meeting at which Trump gave him a bogus report about supposed fraud in Antrim county, Michigan, which he kept pushing on subordinates after that, as his attempt to overturn the election ran on and up to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
Here’s more about Barr’s book – what’s in it and, more to the point, what isn’t:
A little tidbit from Joe Biden and his meeting today with Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland:
Quite the Oval exchange today, via pooler @TalKopan:
“You know my predecessor who sat in this seat, President Obama used to say (if the majority) were Nordic countries, we’d be fine.”
“Well we usually don’t start wars.”
March 4, 2022
Last night, the Florida senate passed a bill banning access to abortions after 15 weeks.
Vice-president Kamala Harris issued a statement today that “the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to do everything in our power to protect access to healthcare and defend a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and determine her future”.
“The right of women to make decisions about their own bodies is non-negotiable,” she said.
Former vice-president Mike Pence reportedly will call on Republicans to stop repeating the lie that Donald Trump keeps peddling that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Pence will call on GOP to stop fighting 2020 election results in speech to party’s top donors tonight. “We cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles, or by relitigating the past.”
March 4, 2022
White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielded a question about Lindsey Graham and his comments calling for the assassination of Vladimir Putin.
“That is not the position of the United States government that is certainly not the statement you would hear coming from the mouth of anybody working in this administration,” she said.
When pressed further on the topic – on whether Joe Biden agreed with Graham that Putin’s death was the only way out of this war – Psaki staunchly doubled down.
“The president believes there continues to be a diplomatic path forward,” she said. “President Putin has the ability to deescalate. We have left the door open for months now to engage in deescalation.”
Psaki continued: “We are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or a regime change. That is not the policy of the United States.”
Read more about the outcry against Graham’s comments here:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.
The US embassy in Ukraine called the attack on the nuclear plant a war crime. But Psaki said the determination of Russia’s war crimes is still an ongoing process that is taking place within the administration.
U.S. Embassy Kyiv
It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further. #TheHague #Zaporizhzhia #StandwithUkraine
March 4, 2022
“It’s a legal review and a process that goes through the administration,” Psaki said. “What I will say, the intentional targeting of civilians or civilian objects would be considered a war crime. Regardless of legality, this action was the height of irresponsibility. The Kremlin must cease operations around nuclear infrastructure.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is at the podium for her press briefing and she began with the administration’s request to Congress for more funding for Ukraine.
Since 2021, the US has already provided more than $1.4bn to Ukraine, and administration officials are now requesting $10bn more to “deliver additional security assistance to Ukraine, to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian people and more support for stronger sanction enforcement and for US troop deployment to reinforce Nato’s eastern flank and deter Russian aggression,” Psaki said.
Back to the no-fly zone and whether it can be implemented in other ways than shooting down Russian jets, and how the US assesses Russian military strength after a week of war.
Blinken says the US is looking at what can be delivered to Ukraine for it to defend itself, every day.
On conclusions about Russian military strength, Blinken says he doesn’t want to draw any yet.
What we do know, he says, is “how extraordinary the Ukrainian people are. Their will, their determination, their absolute commitment to defend their country, to defend their freedom, to defend their future.
“That’s the story of the past week and it’s an incredibly powerful one.”
And with that, he’s gone.
Blinken is asked if energy sanctions on Russia are being considered.
“As a general proposition, nothing is off the table,” he says, adding that minimising harm to the US and partners and allies is also part of implementing sanctions, which means the US wants to avoid raising prices at the pumps at home.
“We have a strong interest in degrading Russia status as a leading energy supplier. Over time, this would be a profound strategic shift. That’s why Nord Stream two was shut down.
“That’s why we’re surging [liquid natural gas] to Europe right now, to help accelerate its diversification away from Russian gas. It’s why we’re denying critical technologies to Russia for further energy exploration … this is part of a process to reduce reliance, dependence on Russian energy.”
Blinken is asked how many more people have to die before energy sanctions are used but he avoids a direct answer, of course.
‘Suffering likely to get worse before it gets better’ – Blinken
Secretary of state Antony Blinken has just issued a fresh warning about the war, echoing other leaders of late who have warned that the worst is ahead.
An Irish questioner asks how much worse things are going to get in Ukraine, and if “the no to the no fly zone is set in stone completely or would you consider it if this conflict does become a massacre?
“And just to follow up – Was it naive of you and of course the Europeans to trust in Putin for diplomacy?”
“I think the terrible expectation is that the suffering we’ve already seen is likely to get worse before it gets better,” Blinken says.
With regard to the no fly zone, Blinken cites Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato general secretary, in saying that Nato has a responsibility to “ensure the war doesn’t spill over beyond Ukraine”. Shooting down Russian planes could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe, Blinken says.
“President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia. But we are going to tremendous lengths with allies and partners to provide Ukrainians with the means to to effectively defend themselves. And of course, we’re seeing every single day, their extraordinary heroism as well as very, very real results in in what they’re doing to achieve that.”
About potential naivety, Blinken says the US was “the opposite of naive” and had warned for months that Putin was planning “an aggression of Ukraine”, and was prepared either way.
at 2.37pm EST
Blinken is asked if nothing the west and Nato has done has slowed the Russian invasion so far, what does he tell the Ukrainian people. He is also asked if arms supplies can be increased, to include heavier weapons such as jets.
Blinken takes the second part first. He’s in contact constantly with the Ukrainian government, he says, and touts how much security assistance has already been given.
He says Nato and the EU have discussed “what more we can do and how to do it effectively”, with the foreign minister of Ukraine contributing. “We’re working on that every day,” he adds.
No specifics – no surprise there.
He touts damage to the Russian economy as a result of sanctions and so forth.
“I have a list five pages long of all the businesses that have left Russia,” Blinken says, adding: “Let’s see how Russia responds to that.”
“Unfortunately this is not like flipping a lightswitch,” he says about the prospects of increasing aid and implementing harsher measures, even though “virtually the entire world” supports Ukraine.
“There is a huge weight bearing down on Russia,” he says. “Let’s see what the impact is.”