Biden news: Latest Russia and Trump updates

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John Kerry apologises for Donald Trump’s stance on climate change

The White House has warned Russia that “there will be consequences” if Alexei Navalny, a Putin critic, dies in prison, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.

This comes after President Joe Biden gave a speech on Thursday about Russia where he failed to mention the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, which angered critics. But Mr Sullivan said the White House aims to deal with the issue “privately and through diplomatic channels.”

John Kerry has also apologised for former President Donald Trump’s “non-leadership” on the effort to address the climate crisis during his four years as US leader.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, said the government was “very sorry for the last four years with a president who didn’t care about science”.

Meanwhile, a number of defendants accused of storming the US Capitol Building in the 6 January insurrection are claiming to have been acting as “journalists” during the incident.

According to The Associated Press, at least eight people accused of attacking the Capitol have claimed that they were only there to record history as journalists or filmmakers – not to help incite a deadly insurrection.

The finding comes following an AP review of court records in nearly 400 cases.

The United States also hit a milestone on Sunday with half of American adults receiving at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Eligibility will open to Americans ages 16 years and older on Monday, Mr Biden said.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog following the latest developments in US politics as John Kerry apologises for the Trump administration’s “non-leadership” on the effort to combat climate change.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 12:10

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John Kerry apologises for Donald Trump’s ‘non-leadership’ on climate change

John Kerry has apologised for former President Donald Trump’s “non-leadership” on the effort to combat climate change.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday today, Mr Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, said the need to tackle climate change was an “extremely urgent” issue.

“The word ‘urgent’ is totally applicable to the current crisis that we’re in because countries are simply not getting the job done,” he said.

“Even if we did everything that we set out to do in the Paris Agreement, the Earth’s temperature is going to increase a very significant amount, perhaps as much as 3.7 degrees or more,” Mr Kerry said. “And the reason for the real urgency now is that because we’re not getting done what we said we’d do in Paris, it’s actually heading towards 4 degrees or more.”

“That’s beyond catastrophic in the consequences to food production, water, habitability in various parts of the planet, the melting of ice, the sea level rise, the warming – all the consequences,” he said.

He later apologised for the US’s own contributions to climate change, offering an apology “for the last four years with a president who didn’t care about science”.

Noting how Mr Trump had pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, an international pact on climate change, he said: “President Biden said the first thing he’d do as president is return; we’ve done that and now with this summit we’re going to try and bring nations to the table to do what we need to do to get the job done for future generations.”

“…This is why we bring nations together and, unfortunately, the United States became a renegade in the last four years under the non-leadership of President Trump, but we are now back and present with a very aggressive series of initiatives in order to try to make up for lost time,” he said.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 12:15

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Conservative conference ends with mask-burning event

A two-day conservative conference on “Health and Freedom” appears to have closed out on Saturday night with a Covid-19 mask-burning event.

The two-day conference, which was hosted by Rhema Bible College in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had been scheduled to end with a “Time to Burn Those Masks” ceremony.

It also saw a range of speakers from Donald Trump’s disgraced former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, as well as Tulsa Sheriff Vic Regalado and Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. 

Read more on the event here:

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 12:40

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Biden vows to increase refugee cap after backlash

President Joe Biden has vowed to lift the US’s record low Trump-era cap on refugee admissions next month after facing backlash following an initial decision to maintain the ceiling.

Mr Biden had previously said that the 15,000-cap “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest”.

He did say that the ceiling could potentially be raised if the cap was met before the end of the current budget year.

However, many immigration advocates expressed outrage over the plan, particularly as Mr Biden had promised to raise the refugee cap significantly during the course of his 2020 presidential campaign.

On Saturday, Biden walked back on his plans, asserting that he would “increase the number” of refugee admissions.

The president made the vow speaking to reporters after a golfing session in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people,” he said. “We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.”

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 12:53

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Japanese PM asks US drugmaker Pfizer for additional doses of Covid-19 vaccine

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has asked US drugmaker Pfizer Inc for additional supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine to help accelerate the country’s vaccination programme.

The request came after Mr Suga held talks with President Joe Biden at the White House, with the Japanese leader reportedly putting in a call to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla as his trip came to a close.

Today, Taro Kono, a Cabinet minister overseeing vaccinations, told a Japanese television talk show that an agreement had nearly been reached, according to The Associated Press.

Mr Suga reportedly asked that Mr Bourla provide additional supplies of the Covid vaccine to help Japan reach a goal of seeing all eligible recipients receive doses by September.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 13:04

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Most Americans want to end lifetime Supreme Court appointments, poll suggests

Most Americans want to end lifetime appointments for US Supreme Court justices, an Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters has shown.

In the national poll, which was conducted on Thursday and Friday and saw 1,003 US adult residents surveyed, 63 per cent were in favour of term or age limits for Supreme Court justices.

Another 22 per cent said they were opposed to any limits, while the rest said they did not have an opinion.

The poll also found that only 38 per cent would be in favour of making the court bigger with the addition of four more justices, while 42 per cent said they would be against such a move and the rest were unsure.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 13:30

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Trump supporters who stormed Capitol use ‘journalist’ defence

Some of the Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol Building in January have sought to defend their actions by claiming to have been acting as “journalists” during the incident.

According to The Associated Press, at least eight people accused of attacking the building have claimed that they were only at the event to record history as journalists or filmmakers, not to help incite a deadly insurrection.

The finding comes following an AP review of court records in nearly 400 cases.

The insurrection ended in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.

Hundreds of injuries were also recorded in relation to the event.

One defendant, Shawn Witzemann, has claimed that he was inside the Capitol Building as part of his work livestreaming video at protests.

“I seek truth. I speak to sources. I document. I provide commentary. It’s everything that a journalist is,” Mr Witzemann told a New Mexico TV station following his arrest on 6 April.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 13:50

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US and China commit to tackling climate crisis ‘with seriousness and urgency it demands’

The United States and China have agreed to work with other nations to address the climate crisis.

The two countries, which are known as the world’s two biggest polluters, struck the accord last week during talks in Shanghai between US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” a joint statement released by the US State Department said.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 14:20

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White House warns of consequences if Navalny dies

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser has said the US has warned Russia “there will be consequences” Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny dies in prison.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union today, Jake Sullivan said the White House had delivered a strong warning to Russia.

Navalny, 44, nearly died in August 2020 after he was poisoned with chemical nerge agent Novichock.

He had accused President Vladimir Putin of being behind the incident, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

He was jailed in February over past embezzlement charges and has remained in custody since.

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 14:52

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Sullivan says Biden ‘committed’ to raising US refugee cap

President Joe Biden is “committed” to raising the US’s cap on refugee admissions, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr Sullivan said Mr Biden would stick to his vow on Saturday to raise the cap after he faced criticism for initially deciding to keep it at its historic low level of 15,000 admissions.

The low ceiling had been introduced under former President Donald Trump and Mr Biden had initially promised in his election campaign to increase the cap.

On Saturday, Mr Biden said he would follow through and raise the ceiling, though it is not clear how high.

Still, Mr Sullivan said: “He is committed to that and he will follow through on that.”

Chantal Da Silva18 April 2021 15:13

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