The Weekly National News Roundup | Shlomo Rudman

JCOS Milley Under Fire for Going Behind Trump’s Back – President Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

Thousands of Migrants Gathered Under Texas Bridge – Thousands of migrants have converged under the bridge that connects Del Rio, Texas, and Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña, creating a makeshift camp with few basic services in intense heat in the latest border emergency facing U.S. President Joe Biden. Food and water has been scarce, around 20 migrants told Reuters, and temperatures have risen to around 99 Fahrenheit (37 Celsius). Reuters witnessed hundreds of migrants wading through the Rio Grande river and back into Mexico to stock up on essentials they say they are not receiving on the American side. The migrants are mostly Haitians, with Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans also present.

Biden Approval Sinks to 44% – Public approval of President Joe Biden has dropped to the lowest level of his presidency, with Americans appearing to be increasingly critical of his response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. The national poll, conducted Sept. 15-16, found that 44% of U.S. adults approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 50% disapproved and the rest were not sure. Biden’s popularity has been declining since mid-August as the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed and as COVID-19-related deaths surged across the country. While most Americans support the kind of vaccine and mask requirements that Biden has ordered recently to slow the spread of the Delta variant, some Republicans have criticized what they consider to be an overreaction by the White House. The weekly poll showed the number of Americans who approved of Biden’s response to the pandemic dropped below 50% for the first time: About 48% approved of the president’s COVID-19 policies, while 46% disapproved.

Blinken Pledges to Build on Abraham Accords – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Friday to encourage more Arab countries to recognize Israel as he met with top diplomats from the Jewish state and from three Arab countries a year after they began normalization. The virtual event bringing together top diplomats of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco amounted to a full embrace by President Joe Biden of the Abraham Accords, which his predecessor Donald Trump considered a key foreign policy legacy. “This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward,” Blinken said. “We will encourage more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy.”

Grand Jury Indicts Clinton Lawyer in Durham Probe – An attorney who represented Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was indicted on Thursday for lying to the FBI, as part of Special Counsel John Durham’s ongoing probe into the origins of the FBI’s investigation into ties between Russia and former President Donald Trump’s campaign. The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, is a former federal prosecutor who represented the Democratic National Committee on issues related to Russia’s 2016 hacking of its servers, the Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. Sussmann’s lawyers, Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth, said in a statement their client has committed no crime. The case against Sussmann centers on who his client was when he met with the FBI lawyer, the New York Times has reported. The FBI lawyer recalls Sussmann saying he was not meeting on behalf of any client, while Sussmann told Congress in a 2017 deposition that he sought the meeting on a behalf of a cybersecurity expert, according to the newspaper.

China’s Xi Rejects Biden’s Request to Meet -President Joe Biden denied on Tuesday a media report that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, last week turned down an offer from Biden for a face-to-face meeting.  The Financial Times cited multiple people briefed on a 90-minute call between the two leaders last week as saying Xi did not take Biden up on the offer and instead insisted that Washington adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing. “It’s not true,” Biden said when asked by reporters if he was disappointed that Xi did not want to meet with him. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that the report was “not an accurate portrayal of the call. Period.” A source who was among those briefed on the call confirmed the report was accurate. “Xi apparently intimated that the tone and atmosphere of the relationship needed to be improved first,” the source told Reuters.

California’s Gov Newsom Survives Recall – Gavin Newsom survived a Republican attempt to remove him from office as California’s governor, ensuring that the Democrat can serve out the rest of his term as the top official in the nation’s most populous state. Polls for in-person voting closed at 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Voters had been submitting mail-in ballots for a few weeks ahead of time. The gubernatorial recall effort was the second in California’s history to qualify for the ballot, giving Republicans a chance to seize power in an otherwise deep-blue state.

Blinken Testifies on Afghanistan Withdrawal – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday insisted that the Biden administration had prepared for worst-case scenarios in Afghanistan as irate lawmakers accused the White House of presiding over a historic disaster. The famously even-tempered diplomat is facing two days of grilling by congressional committees, the first opportunity by lawmakers to directly challenge President Joe Biden’s administration over his end to the 20-year war that brought a swift victory to the Taliban. Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Biden administration was “intensely focused” on the safety of Americans and had been “constantly assessing” the staying power of the Western-backed government. “Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remained,” Blinken said. “Nonetheless, we planned and exercised a wide range of contingencies,” he said. “The evacuation itself was an extraordinary effort — under the most difficult conditions imaginable — by our diplomats, by our military, by our intelligence professionals.”

 

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