‘You’ve got to be silly’: Biden hits back at Ukraine questions from Fox News reporter
President Joe Biden has ordered the release of up 1 million barrels of oil per day from the strategic petroleum reserve for the next six months in a bid to control prices that have spiked since the US and its allies imposed strict sanctions on Russia.
The announcement comes after both the White House and the Pentagon said that they believe Vladimir Putin is being misinformed about progress in the war by his senior advisers and warned that Russian troops being pulled back from areas near Kyiv may just be being repositioned for further fighting.
Meanwhile, the president is marking the Transgender Day of Visibility, which declared in order to “celebrate the activism and determination that have fueled the fight for transgender equality” and “acknowledge the adversity and discrimination that the transgender community continues to face across our Nation and around the world” – this as various Republican-led states pass laws directly targeting non-gender-conforming people, including children.
On Wednesday, Mr Biden also gave a speech on the state of the coronavirus pandemic, announcing the launch of a central website for resources, before receiving his second booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. The CIA director is the latest person in the administration to test positive for the virus and he met with the president a day ago – though they were distanced and masked.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:45
NEC director answers questions on release of oil reserves
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese is speaking at the White House daily briefing and is addressing the release of one million barrels a day from strategic petroleum reserve.
He confirms that the US has “the operational capacity to do that” and the oil will be released from all four national storage locations.
“Our goal is to provide relief to all Americans in all geographies across the country.”
Mr Deese does admit that the market price of oil is impossible to predict with certainty. He also declined to name names as to which companies are profiteering.
The administration feels that the current situation shows America must move towards energy security and true energy independence. That will involve reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:44
Biden says Putin appears to be ‘self-isolating’ from advisers
President Joe Biden claimed on Thursday that Vladimir Putin appears to be “self-isolating” from his closest advisers including his top intelligence officials as his invasion of Ukraine appears to be largely stalled across the country.
In an address announcing efforts to lower gas prices, which the US have blamed on the efforts to divest from Russian oil as well as inflation, the president explained that he didn’t “want to put too much stock” in the reports but essentially confirmed reporting that has for weeks indicated that a major rift exists between Mr Putin and his top aides and strategists.
John Bowden has the latest.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:30
Jeopardy! Champion Amy Schneider visits press room
On Trans Day of Visibility, Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider received a tour of the West Wing and visited the press room.
Per White House pooler Scott Bixby of The Daily Beast,
Amy Schneider, the first woman to ever win more than $1 million on Jeopardy!, visited the White House briefing room before today’s briefing to highlight the administration’s observance of the International Transgender Day of Visibility, “to be visible, I suppose,” she said .
Schneider, who is transgender, told reporters that the recent spat of legislation prohibiting transgender children from participating in school sports or barring teachers from discussing LGBT issues is “really scary.”
“Some of them in particular that are denying medical services to trans youth,” Schneider said, are “really sad to me and it’s really frightening.”
Schneider met with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff earlier today, per the wranglers, and will be meeting with transgender youth to mark the day.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:15
Live – White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield holds briefing
Watch live as White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield holds briefing
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:09
The next Jen Psaki?
Kate Bedingfield’s debut in the White House press briefing room this week came under unlikely circumstances — the benching of two of her colleagues due to Covid-19 — but could lead to greater visibility for Joe Biden’s longtime comms director.
“I know I am not the redhead you’re accustomed to seeing at this podium, but I hope you will hang with me nonetheless,” Ms Bedingfield, 40, joked to reporters at her first briefing on Tuesday.
John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 20:00
Biden calls for ‘use it or lose it’ policy for oil leases on federal land: ‘I say, enough’
President Joe Biden on Thursday slammed oil companies for refusing to increase production to make up shortfalls caused by the removal of Russian oil from US markets.
Calling the crisis stemming from Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine “a moment of crisis and peril for the world and pain at the pump for American families,” Mr Biden said the spike in oil and gas prices brought on by the US ban on Russian oil could be “a moment of patriotism” for domestic oil producers.
Andrew Feinberg has the latest for The Independent from Washington DC.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 19:45
FBI: Hackers targeted US election officials with phishing email campaign
Hackers likely targeted US election officials with an invoice-themed phishing email campaign in an attempt to gain access to their systems, according to the FBI.
An advisory issued by the bureau this week warns election administrators and state and local government officials about a malicious email scheme that federal law enforcement believes is part of a “concerted effort to target US election officials.”
Similar threats “will likely continue or increase their targeting of US election officials with phishing campaigns in the lead-up to the 2022 US midterm elections,” according to the FBI.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 19:30
Biden says Putin ‘self-isolating’, is skeptical Russian forces pulling back
In shouted questions following the announcement regarding gas prices, President Biden is asked about Vladimir Putin.
“He seems to be self-isolating and there’s some indication he has fired, or put under house arrest, his advisers,” he said, adding, “but I don’t want to put too much stock in at this time because we don ‘t have that much hard evidence.”
On whether Russia is pulling back its forces in Ukraine, he says: “It’s an open question” and there is “no clear evidence”, adding “I’m a skeptic”.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 19:08
Biden calls out oil companies profiting on Putin’s war
President Joe Biden has called out oil companies who have sat by and enjoyed higher profits as the price of oil has soared during Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
The president announced a “use it or lose it” policy for oil leases on federal land, to push companies “to step up for the good of the country” and provide relief for customers, not executives and shareholders.
In addition, as announced earlier, the president will authorize the release of one million barrels of oil per day for six months while domestic production ramps up to bring prices down at the pump.
“My plan is going to help ease that pain today.”
Mr Biden also announced a directive to strengthen the green energy economy by utilizing the Defense Production Act for rare earth minerals as part of a longer term strategy to ween America of foreign oil.
Oliver O’Connell31 March 2022 19:02