The office of former president Barack Obama privately blasted a congressional investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as alleged Ukrainian election interference, calling it an effort “to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign,” according to a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News.
In March, Obama’s office told the National Archives and Records Administration — which maintains presidential records — that a request from two top Republican senators for Obama administration documents related to Ukraine was improper.
“It arises out of efforts by some, actively supported by Russia, to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine,” said the letter, dated March 13. It pointed to comments made by Fiona Hill, a former senior National Security Council official in the Trump White House, during the impeachment investigation into the president, calling Ukrainian election meddling “a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.”
The November request for records came from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, who have been investigating matters related to Democrats and Ukraine since the fall, when Trump was impeached for his interactions with Ukraine. Grassley and Johnson, who chair the Finance and Homeland Security committees, respectively, asked the National Archives for records on meetings between the Obama administration and Ukrainian officials, as well meetings between Obama officials and Alexandra Chalupa, the Democratic operative at the heart of the debunked Ukrainian election interference narrative.
What they’re saying: A representative for Obama claimed in a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration that the Republicans’ request “arises out of efforts by some, actively supported by Russia, to shift the blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election to Ukraine.”
- “The request for early release of presidential records in order to give credence to a Russian disinformation campaign — one that has already been thoroughly investigated by a bipartisan congressional committee — is without precedent.”
- “This use of the special access process serves no legitimate purpose, and does not outweigh or justify infringing confidentiality interests that all presidents have sought to protect.”
The letter points to testimony by former top White House Russia expert Fiona Hill, who called the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election as “a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.”
Yes, but: The letter conceded that the records could be released “in the interest of countering the misinformation campaign underlying this request.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ripped President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of Trump’s Tuesday visit to Phoenix, saying he worsened the health crisis by denying expanded insurance coverage.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, hit Trump for not opening enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, as Gov. Doug Ducey recommended.
In a statement first shared with The Arizona Republic, Biden, a former vice president, said Trump’s visit to the battleground state of Arizona would not distract from his failure to respond to the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed at least 65,000 people in the U.S., infected more than 1 million and shut down most of the nation’s economy.
Biden’s criticism is aimed to preempt Trump as he prepares to showcase production of N95 masks at a Honeywell facility near the Phoenix airport.
“President Trump will try to paper over his administration’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic when he travels today to Arizona — but nothing can cover up how he failed to prepare our country for this pandemic and his slow response,” Biden said in a written statement.
Biden added: “Grandstanding isn’t going to help Arizonans get the resources they need to move forward. What we need is action.”
Also, this is cool:
The comedian, who endorsed the former vice president on “Super Tuesday” in early March, appears with Biden in a new campaign video about friendship in the age of social distancing and the novel coronavirus. The sketch-like clip shows the two playing cards and sharing a meal.
Back in March, Key, 49, posted a video on Twitter talking with Biden and doing his best impersonation of former President Barack Obama.
“A great reason to brush up on my Barry O impression,” Key wrote alongside the video.
The presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee said he would “decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions” as part of a “Plan For Black America” his campaign released on Monday. He also talked about changing broader criminal justice policies, including ending the crack-versus-cocaine sentencing disparity, repealing mandatory minimums, abolishing the death penalty and diverting people with minor drug convictions to treatment instead of prisons.
While advocates generally welcome the proposals, they argue that they do not go far enough to fully address racial equity. Notably absent from his plan is legalizing marijuana for adult use—something activists say is critical to ensure equity and restorative justice.
“Considering the long violent history of the United States war on communities color, this plan is a half measure at best,” Jason Ortiz, president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, told Marijuana Moment. “True equity for our communities would include an admission that our federal government committed a massive crime through the war on drugs, and a plan to undue that damage and make our communities whole.”
“True equity must include a release of all cannabis prisoners, massive community investment and a legal cannabis marketplace owned and operated primarily by people of color,” he added. “I’m not convinced Biden is there yet but we must all continue to push him for the sake our communities.”
What’s more, while Biden’s treatment for substance misuse proposal is viewed as superior to incarceration, advocates largely oppose forcing individuals into treatment as a mandate from drug courts, which continue to handle a health issue through a criminal justice lens.
Drug policy reform advocates have widely criticized Biden’s record as a senator, condemning his role in authoring and promoting punitive anti-drug laws that contributed to mass incarceration. And his ongoing opposition to legalization—a policy supported by a majority of his party’s voters, particularly young people—has been a lingering source of frustration.
“Biden’s plan calls for the decriminalization of cannabis and the end of all incarceration for drug abuse,” Ortiz said. “While that flies in stark contrast to the vice president’s record, it is a promising sign that more modern approaches to criminal justice are being discussed and taken seriously by his campaign.”
On May 6, 2012, Vice President Joe Biden declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he supported the legalization of same-sex marriage — getting out ahead of his boss, Barack Obama, on one of the most volatile political issues of the day.
The largest national LGBTQ rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, told The Associated Press that it will be formally endorsing Biden for president on Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of that event.
The endorsement itself is no surprise, given the antipathy that most LGBTQ activists have toward Biden’s rival, President Donald Trump. But the timing is a way of highlighting Biden’s bona fides among activists who gratefully remember his 2012 role.
Obama had taken office in 2009 as a self-described fierce advocate for gay rights, yet for much of his first term, he drew flak from activists who viewed him as too cautious and politically expedient. They were frustrated he wouldn’t endorse same-sex marriage — Obama cagily said he was “evolving” on the issue.
That changed swiftly after Biden told “Meet the Press” that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Three days later, in a White House interview with ABC News, Obama followed suit.
Let’s keep up the momentum and beat Trump like a drum in November. Click here to donate and get involved with Biden’s campaign.