Biden says ‘we can and we will turn the tide on Covid-19’ in White House speech – as it happened

By Maanvi Singh (now) and Joan E Greve (earlier)
Biden delivers remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost Covid-19 vaccinations, in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Thursday.
Biden delivers remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost Covid-19 vaccinations, in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Thursday. Photograph: Oliver Contreras/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Politics recap

  • Joe Biden laid out his new strategy to combat the spread of coronavirus. The White House has said the president will outline six steps to boost vaccinations and limit the spread of the Delta variant. Biden announced coronavirus vaccination requirements for all federal workers, and a new Labor Department rule compelling private employers to adopt similar vaccination policies.
  • The justice department filed a lawsuit against Texas over its six-week abortion ban, a week after the supreme court declined to block the law’s implementation. “The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding supreme court precedent,” attorney general Merrick Garland said at a press conference this afternoon.
  • Biden confirmed he will withdraw the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman had attracted intense criticism from Republicans and a handful of Democrats for his advocacy work with the gun control group Giffords. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is in “active discussions” with Chipman to find another role for him in the administration.
  • Liz Cheney signaled she is ready for a fight following Donald Trump’s endorsement of one of her primary opponents, Harriet Hageman. After Trump mocked Cheney as the “number one provider of sound bites” for Democrats, the Republican congresswoman replied, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.” Cheney has repeatedly criticized Trump over his lies about fraud in the 2020 election, and she supported his impeachment for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
  • A charter flight carrying US citizens out of Kabul has safely landed in Qatar, the White House said. The flight’s departure was facilitated by the US government, as the Biden administration continues its efforts to evacuate American citizens out of Afghanistan, even after the military formally ended its Kabul mission last week.

Updated

A third of the female service members in the air force and space force say they’ve experienced sexual harassment, according to a new study.

The AP reports:

The review, done by the Air Force inspector general concluded that minorities and women are underrepresented in leadership and officer positions, particularly at the senior levels, and get promoted less frequently. It echoed many of the findings of an initial review, released last December, which found that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct.

The two reviews into racial, ethnic and gender disparities across the Air Force and Space Force broadly confirm that biases exist, but the data does not fully explain why. The studies also reflect broader campaigns within the Defense Department and the Biden administration to root out extremism and racism.

President Joe Biden has declared domestic extremism an urgent national security threat and the Defense Department is working to identify extremist behavior and eliminate it from the force. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, earlier this year, ordered military leaders to spend a day talking to their troops about extremism in the ranks, after a number of former and current military members took part in the assault on the U.S. Capitol in January.

Updated

Biden will visit California on Monday, stopping in Sacramento to survey wildfire damage and then Long Beach to campaign with governor Gavin Newsom against the recall election.

Kamala Harris was in California yesterday campaigning for Newsom, returning to her home county of Alameda to rally voters. Newsom, a Democrat who won office by historic margins, remains popular and appears poised to maintain his seat per recent polls and early returns. But Democrats in California and DC are taking no chances - escalating efforts to help Newsom maintain his place at the helm of the most populous US state.

Californians have already started voting, and nearly a third have returned their ballots so far. The deadline to return ballots or vote in person is 14 September, the day after Biden’s visit.

Read more:

Biden withdraws pick to run firearms agency after NRA pressure

Joe Biden said in a Thursday afternoon statement that he was no longer proposing David Chipman, a 25-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who has worked to tighten gun laws, as the agency’s next director, confirming an earlier Washington Post report.

The gun reform group Brady says Biden’s decision to bow to National Rifle Association (NRA) pressure and withdraw his nominee, a strong gun control advocate, to lead the agency enforcing federal firearms laws is “a shameful day for our country”.

The Guardian reported in July that Chipman’s nomination, which Biden announced in April, was in trouble, stalled by opposition from pro-gun Republicans in the US Senate and targeted by the NRA and industry lobbyists.

Read more:

“We have the tools. Now we just have to finish the job,” Biden said in his concluding remarks.

More details of his pandemic plan will be revealed in the coming weeks, he said. He ended his speech with a whisper: “Get vaccinated”.

He did not take questions from the press.

The president said he will also enact measures to disincentivize those seeking to undermine vaccine and masking mandates.

Implicitly referring to leaders like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who threatened to withhold salaries from school board members and superintendents in districts with mask mandates, Biden said: “Talk about bullying in schools.”

“Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs,” he said.

If teachers’ pay is withheld by states, the federal government will step in to pay it, he said. “I promise you, I will have your back.”

The president also said that the TSA will double fines for passengers who refuse to wear masks. “And by the way, show some respect,” he said.

“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Biden said. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient.”

“We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said.

Here’s an overview of vaccination stats across the US:

Key points: Biden's pandemic plan

  1. The Labor Department will require all employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must also provide paid time off to allow workers to get vaccinated. This will affect more than 80 million workers in private sector businesses. Companies that do not comply could face fines of up to nearly $14,000 per violation.
  2. Workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement must be vaccinated, a move that applies to 50,000 providers and covers more than 17 million healthcare workers.
  3. All federal government workers, as well as employees of contractors that do business with the federal government, must get vaccinated, or regularly tested.

Updated

“We are in a tough stretch and it could last for awhile,” Biden said, stressing that the Delta variant had complicated the US recovery.

Stressing that vaccines protect people from hospitalizations and deaths from the Delta variant, he called the surge in cases a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

A quarter of adults still haven’t gotten any vaccine shot, he said. “That 25% can cause a lot of damage, and they are,” he said. He implicitly called out the Republicans who are hindering a vaccination push - calling the behavior “unacceptable”.

Updated

Biden explains Covid-19 strategy

“We can and will turn the tide of Covid-19,” the president said.

Speaking from the White House, Biden started by recapping progress made so far in getting Americans vaccinated.

“We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together and use those tools,” he said, acknowledging frustrations with the 80m who are unvaccinated.

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will soon lay out his new strategy to combat the spread of coronavirus. The White House has said the president will outline six steps to boost vaccinations and limit the spread of the Delta variant. Biden is expected to announce he is requiring coronavirus vaccinations for all federal workers, without the option to undergo regular testing instead of getting vaccinated.
  • The justice department filed a lawsuit against Texas over its six-week abortion ban, a week after the supreme court declined to block the law’s implementation. “The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding supreme court precedent,” attorney general Merrick Garland said at a press conference this afternoon.
  • Biden confirmed he will withdraw the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman had attracted intense criticism from Republicans and a handful of Democrats for his advocacy work with the gun control group Giffords. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is in “active discussions” with Chipman to find another role for him in the administration.
  • Liz Cheney signaled she is ready for a fight following Donald Trump’s endorsement of one of her primary opponents, Harriet Hageman. After Trump mocked Cheney as the “number one provider of sound bites” for Democrats, the Republican congresswoman replied, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.” Cheney has repeatedly criticized Trump over his lies about fraud in the 2020 election, and she supported his impeachment for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
  • A charter flight carrying US citizens out of Kabul has safely landed in Qatar, the White House said. The flight’s departure was facilitated by the US government, as the Biden administration continues its efforts to evacuate American citizens out of Afghanistan, even after the military formally ended its Kabul mission last week.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

DeSantis suffers legal defeat over anti-riot law

It’s been another busy day in court for Florida’s litigious Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who followed up yesterday’s rebuff by a federal judge over his ban on mask mandates in schools with another defeat on Thursday - this time over his flagship anti-riot law.

US district court judge Mark Walker, in a 90-page ruling, determined that the state’s HB 1, which DeSantis signed into law in April, is unconstitutional. Touted by the governor as a means of enhancing public safety and clamping down on mob violence in the wake of protests nationwide in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the law created, among other provisions, a new crime of “mob intimidation” and protected motorists who hit protestors during a riot.

Walker, however, was not impressed with the language contained in the law. “[Its] new definition of ‘riot’ both fails to put Floridians of ordinary intelligence on notice of what acts it criminalizes, and encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, making this provision vague to the point of unconstitutionality,” he wrote.

His temporary injunction effectively prohibits enforcement of the law while legal challenges to it make their way through the courts.

If DeSantis’s recent actions are anything to go by, it won’t be long before the issue is back in the courtroom. On Thursday, DeSantis filed an emergency appeal to reverse Wednesday’s mask mandate ruling, asserting a “high likelihood” of winning the case on appeal, and claiming that the court of district judge John Cooper “abused its discretion” by lifting a stay the governor had previously won that halted Cooper’s earlier order freeing school districts to require masks.

A decision is likely within the next few days.

Kamala Harris sharply criticized the Texas abortion law this afternoon, as the vice-president met with reproductive health providers and patients to discuss abortion rights.

Harris noted many US states beyond Texas have enacted restrictive laws that have made it extremely difficult to access abortion services, underscoring the need for a robust response to such policies.

“The United States department of justice has spoken loudly in saying that this law is patently unconstitutional,” Harris said of the new federal lawsuit against Texas.

Asked what other steps the Biden administration can take to protect abortion rights, the vice-president said, “We need to codify Roe v Wade.”

The abortion rights group NARAL praised the Biden administration for filing a lawsuit against Texas over its six-week abortion ban.

“We are pleased to see the Biden administration taking action to fight for Texans’ reproductive freedom by filing a lawsuit to block SB 8—the harshest and most extreme ban on abortion in the country,” NARAL acting president Adrienne Kimmell said in a statement.

“Let’s be clear: Texas is the tip of the iceberg. This lawsuit sends a strong message to anti-choice lawmakers across the country who are racing to enact copycat versions of SB 8 in their own states. The threat to the future of safe, legal abortion is looming larger than ever, and safeguarding reproductive freedom requires bold and immediate action.”

Merrick Garland noted the justice department is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the Texas abortion law, out of concern for private citizens acting as “bounty hunters” to ensure the statute is respected.

“The department of justice has a duty to defend the Constitution of the United States and to uphold the rule of law,” the attorney general said at his press conference.

“Today, we fulfill that duty by filing the lawsuit I have just described.”

A reporter asked Merrick Garland whether he expected the justice department to file additional lawsuits against states threatening to pass laws similar to Texas’ six-week abortion ban.

“The additional and further risk here is that other states will follow similar models with respect not only to this constitutional right but theoretically against any constitutional right,” the attorney general said.

“So if another state uses the same kind of provisions to deprive its citizens of their constitutional rights, and in particular to deprive their citizens of the ability to seek immediate review, we will bring the same kind of lawsuit.”

Biden administration sues Texas over six-week abortion ban

The Biden administration is suing Texas over its six-week abortion ban, which went into effect last week after the supreme court declined to block the law’s implementation.

Attorney general Merrick Garland confirmed the news at a press conference this afternoon.

“The act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding supreme court precedent,” Garland said.

The attorney general warned that the law “deputizes all private citizens, without any showing of personal connection or injury, to serve as bounty hunters” to ensure the law is respected.

“The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review for as long as possible,” Garland said.

Joe Biden had previously promised that he would pursue a “whole-of-government effort” to respond to the supreme court’s decision, specifically looking at what tools the justice department may have to push back against the Texas law.

Updated

Charter flight from Kabul safely lands in Qatar, White House says

A charter flight carrying American citizens out of Kabul has now safely landed in Qatar, the White House said in a new statement.

The flight’s departure was facilitated by the US government, as the Biden administration continues its efforts to evacuate American citizens out of Afghanistan, even after the military formally ended its Kabul mission last week.

“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA,” Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in the statement.

“We will continue these efforts to facilitate the safe and orderly travel of American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Afghans who worked for us and wish to leave Afghanistan.”

It’s unclear how many US citizens were on the charter flight and how many Americans remain in Afghanistan. Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that there were roughly 100 Americans still in Afghanistan.

Jen Psaki hinted that Joe Biden will be pursuing actions to put pressure on major employers to set coronavirus vaccine requirements for their workers.

A reporter asked the White House press secretary at her briefing, “Can the Department of Labor or anybody else compel major employers, large employers, to force the vaccine mandates on their employees?”

Psaki replied, “Yes. Stay tuned. More to come this afternoon.”

The president is scheduled to deliver a speech on his new strategy to boost coronavirus vaccinations and limit the spread of the Delta variant in about two hours.

Biden is expected to sign an executive order requiring coronavirus vaccinations for all federal workers, without a testing alternative to opt out of the mandate.

Some major private-sector employers, including McDonald’s, Google and United Airlines, have already established vaccine mandates for their workers.

Federal workers will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated under Biden's new policy

Jen Psaki offered some details on Joe Biden’s speech this afternoon, in which he will outline his new strategy to boost coronavirus vaccinations and limit the spread of the Delta variant.

The White House press secretary said federal workers will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated under an executive order that Biden will sign later today.

Psaki noted the vaccine order will include “limited exceptions for legally recognized reasons,” such as religious objections and disabilities that prevent vaccinations.

Biden announced in July that federal workers would be required to get vaccinated or undergo regular coronavirus testing, but the newest order will not include a testing option.

Psaki confirmed that federal workers who do not comply with the vaccination mandate will go through the “standard HR process,” which could include facing “progressive disciplinary action”. She later added that employees could potentially be terminated if they do not get vaccinated.

One reporter asked Jen Psaki whether Joe Biden intends to name another nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, now that David Chipman’s nomination has been withdrawn.

“We certainly would at an appropriate time,” the White House press secretary said. “I don’t have a timeline on that at this point in time.”

As Psaki previously noted, there has only ever been one Senate-confirmed ATF director in the history of the bureau, so it will likely be extremely difficult to get any nominee confirmed.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing, and she was asked about Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the nomination of David Chipman as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“We always knew this would be challenging,” Psaki said of the decision, noting that there has only ever been one Senate-confirmed ATF director in the history of the bureau.

Psaki said the president continues to have a “great deal of respect” for Chipman, and she added that the White House is engaged in “active discussions” with Chipman about a future role in the administration.

Biden withdraws Chipman's nomination to lead ATF

Joe Biden has officially confirmed he is withdrawing David Chipman’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The announcement comes after Republicans and the National Rifle Association launched a campaign to block the confirmation of Chipman over his advocacy work for the gun control group Giffords.

“David Chipman spent 25 years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent,” the president said in a new statement.

“He would have been an exemplary Director of the ATF and would have redoubled its efforts to crack down on illegal firearms traffickers and help keep our communities safe from gun violence.

“Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it.”

It’s worth noting that at least one senator who caucuses with Democrats, Angus King of Maine, had signaled some concerns about Chipman’s nomination as well, making his confirmation very unlikely.

“Since taking office, my Administration has taken numerous steps to combat gun violence, and we’ll continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight gun violence and keep Americans safe,” Biden said. “I am grateful for Mr. Chipman’s service and for his work.”

Updated

On East 26th Street in Reserve, Louisiana, sits a family house constructed from the bottom up with bricks and mortar, plywood and cement.

Robert Taylor built this family home in stages, using paychecks from the three jobs he worked and assistance from the Farmers Home Association, the now defunct federal government agency that assisted low-income rural communities to buy land.

Taylor would set aside money each week to buy studs and bricks. Parts of the house would arrive on the back of a truck, ready to be assembled.

It took three years to complete the first floor, and by 1968 Robert Taylor was ready to move in with his wife and four children. He became the first on his mother’s side of the family to own a home.

“It’s my entire life,” he said. “I put everything into it.”

As an afternoon thunderstorm echoed across the nearby levees, Robert Taylor, 79 years old, returned this week to what remained of his house. Even in a neighborhood decimated by the storm, the destruction to Taylor’s house stood out as particularly pronounced.

Read the Guardian’s full report:

The weekly number of US jobless claims has hit a pandemic low of 310,000, mitigating some fears of potential layoffs due to the elevated number of coronavirus cases as the Delta variant spreads.

The AP reports:

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims dropped from a revised total of 345,000 the week before. And at their current pace, weekly applications for benefits are edging toward their pre-pandemic figure of roughly 225,000.

But the spread of the delta variant this summer has put renewed pressure on the economy and the job market. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. economic activity ‘downshifted’ in July and August, in part because of a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism related to concerns about the delta variant.

Still, the ongoing drop in applications for unemployment aid — six declines in the past seven weeks — indicates that most companies are holding onto their workers despite the slowdown. That trend should help sustain the economic rebound through the current wave of infections.

Joe Biden celebrated the report in a new statement, saying, “Despite the ongoing impact of the Delta variant, the evidence is clear: the Biden plan is working, we are seeing real results, and the American economy is on the move again.”

Melody Schreiber writes…

The US has far too many cases of the coronavirus to see an end to the pandemic, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Axios in an interview published Thursday.

“The endgame is to suppress the virus,” Fauci said. “Right now, we’re still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day.”

The seven-day average of new cases declined slightly from the previous week, to 140,000 cases, although it’s possible reported case numbers are low given two holidays this week. Rates this high make it impossible to return to some semblance of normal life, Fauci said.

“In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable,” he said.

Full story:

The Biden administration plans to sue Texas over the state’s extreme abortion law, which amounts to a near total ban on abortion, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the justice department could file a lawsuit on Thursday, just over a week after the law came into effect.

Senate Bill 8, pushed through by Texas’ Republican-dominated legislature, bans abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, which is around six weeks. Most women are not aware they are pregnant as early as that time.

According to the Journal the justice department will argue that the law, which offers no exceptions for rape or incest, “illegally interferes with federal interests”.

On Monday Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, said the justice department would “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services”, under a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances.

Garland said that law would be enforced “in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion”.

Stephen Breyer, the supreme court justice many liberals wish would retire so Joe Biden and the Democratic-held Senate could replace him, thereby at least delaying the calamity which would be conservatives gaining an even stronger grip on the court than the 6-3 advantage they already hold, will give a TV interview this weekend. To Fox News Sunday.

The show announced the interview, with anchor Chris Wallace, today.

Breyer, 83 and the oldest judge on the court, recently told the New York Times: “There are many things that go into a retirement decision. I don’t think I’m going to stay there till I die – hope not.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of course, did stay on the court until she died, right at the end of Donald Trump’s one term in the White House and in the last days of a Republican Senate led by Mitch McConnell.

Naturally, given his well-known devotion to winning at all costs, McConnell happily disregarded previous statements about who gets to name a justice and when – remember Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia? – and confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, a hardline Catholic, to the court.

Last week, that conservative-dominated court declined to block an extreme Texas anti-abortion law which practically ends the right to abortion in the state while encouraging vigilante justice.

Breyer has a book out next week, called: The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics. According to Harvard University Press, Breyer “suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority could be marred by reforms [to the supreme court] premised on the assumption of ideological bias”.

The assumption that supreme court justices have ideological biases … does seem quite a fair one, tbh.

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will lay out his new strategy to combat the Delta variant of coronavirus later today. The White House has said the president will outline six steps to boost vaccinations and limit the spread of the Delta variant. According to multiple reports, Biden will announce he is requiring coronavirus vaccinations for all federal workers, without the option to undergo regular testing instead of getting vaccinated.
  • The Biden administration will reportedly withdraw the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman had attracted intense criticism from Republicans and a handful of Democrats for his advocacy work with the gun control group Giffords.
  • Liz Cheney signaled she is ready for a fight following Donald Trump’s endorsement of one of her primary opponents, Harriet Hageman. After Trump mocked Cheney as the “number one provider of sound bites” for Democrats, the Republican congresswoman replied, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.” Cheney has repeatedly criticized Trump over his lies about fraud in the 2020 election, and she supported his impeachment for inciting the Capitol insurrection.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Donald Trump claimed that Harriet Hageman had also garnered the support of Wyoming senator Cynthia Lummis in her bid to unseat congresswoman Liz Cheney.

“Harriet is a fourth-generation daughter of Wyoming, a very successful attorney, and has the support and respect of a truly great U.S. Senator, Wyoming’s own Cynthia Lummis,” Trump said in his endorsement of Hageman.

But when contacted to confirm the endorsement, Lummis would not definitively say whether she had offered her support to Hageman.

“I’ll tell you, I’ve known Harriet Hageman for decades. She is a fabulous choice for President Trump — and I’m just leaving it at that,” Lummis told the Washington Examiner. “Take my statement at face value. That’s all I’m saying.”

Donald Trump had been widely expected to endorse one of Liz Cheney’s primary rivals, given that the two have repeatedly clashed since the then-president incited the Capitol insurrection on January 6.

Cheney supported Trump’s impeachment following the insurrection, and she is now one of just two Republicans, along with Adam Kinzinger, serving on the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.

Cheney’s repeated criticism of Trump and his lies about fraud in the 2020 election ultimately led to her losing her position as the House Republican conference chairwoman earlier this year.

Despite the attacks from Trump and his allies, Cheney has given no indication that she plans to walk away from her reelection race next year.

“If they think that they are going to come into Wyoming and make the argument that the people of Wyoming should vote for someone who is loyal to Donald Trump over somebody who is loyal to the Constitution, I welcome that debate,” Cheney told the “Today” show in May.

Cheney responds to Trump's endorsement of primary rival: 'Bring it'

Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney signaled she is ready for a fight after Donald Trump endorsed her primary rival, Harriet Hageman.

The former president announced his widely expected endorsement this morning, saying Hageman is “all in for America First”.

“I strongly endorse Republican House of Representatives Candidate Harriet Hageman from Wyoming who is running against warmonger and disloyal Republican, Liz Cheney,” Trump said.

“Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney.”

About twenty minutes after Trump issued his endorsement, Cheney responded over Twitter, saying, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”

Democratic senator Tim Kaine sent his best wishes to Amy Klobuchar after she revealed that she had been treated for breast cancer earlier this year.

“Amy Klobuchar is one of my best friends in the Senate,” Kaine said on Twitter. “She works hard with her head up and a smile on her face. Anne and I are thinking of Amy and her family today and are so glad she is doing well.”

Klobuchar reveals she was treated for breast cancer earlier this year

Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar has revealed that she was treated for breast cancer earlier this year and is now doing well.

Klobuchar, who also ran for president last year, said in a Medium post that she was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer after a February mammogram showed abnormalities.

Shortly after that, the Minnesota senator underwent a lumpectomy at the Mayo Clinic to remove the cancer.

“In May, I completed a course of radiation treatment, and after additional follow-up visits, it was determined in August that the treatment went well,” Klobuchar said.

“Of course this has been scary at times, since cancer is the word all of us fear, but at this point my doctors believe that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person.”

Klobuchar sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year and turned in stronger-than-expected performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. But she dropped out before Super Tuesday following a lackluster showing in South Carolina, and she then endorsed Joe Biden.

Klobuchar has represented Minnesota in the Senate since 2007, and she serves as chairwoman of the Senate rules committee.

The former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, also a former top aide to former first lady Melania Trump, has written a book.

According to Axios, which broke the news having noticed an Amazon page for the title, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw in The Trump White House will be published on 5 October by Harper Collins”.

Stephanie Grisham.
Stephanie Grisham. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

No news yet of what might be in the highly guarded tome, but cynical observers might suggest it being highly guarded is rather appropriate, given that Grisham proved highly guarded in the company of reporters while she was White House press secretary and indeed barely took any questions: she did not host a single press room briefing in her nine months on the job.

Grisham stayed in the White House after relinquishing the press secretary role, ultimately resigning on 6 January this year, the day Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn his election defeat.

According to Axios, a source close to Grisham said she “knows where all the bodies are buried because she buried a lot of them herself … [she] has receipts ... she was a press person and it was her job to make sure she knew what was happening.”

The reporter Jonathan Swan – he of the famous interview with Trump last summer and the looks of bewilderment and skepticism that were swiftly, inevitably memed – adds that a former West Wing source said: “When I heard this, all I could think about was Stephanie surrounded by a lake of gasoline, striking a match with a grin on her face.

“There isn’t enough water on earth to contain the fire she could set to all of Trump world, including parts like the first lady’s orbit, which not many people are in a position to illuminate.

“It’s hard to articulate how much anxiety this is going to cause.”

The Guardian has contacted Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, to see if he has any comment.

It’s not particularly hard to articulate how much interest Grisham’s book will cause as publication day nears, whether it turns out scoop-filled or a damp squib.

This summer saw a huge crop of Trump books with attendant scoops and reviews. Many observers said most such books were relatively lacking in scoop, the territory having been strip-mined since Michael Wolff birthed a genre with Fire and Fury in 2018.

It’s also worth noting that books about Melania, and indeed press coverage of them …tend to be eagerly read.

Updated

White House plans to withdraw Chipman's nomination to run ATF - reports

The White House plans to withdraw David Chipman’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to multiple reports.

Chipman had faced intense criticism, mostly but not entirely from Republicans, over his advocacy work with the gun control group Giffords.

Joe Biden announced Chipman’s nomination in April, as part of a broader strategy to crack down on gun violence in the US.

According to Politico, the White House has offered Chipman a role at the Justice Department, so he will still likely be a member of the Biden administration.

Here’s the Guardian’s report from July on efforts by Republicans and the National Rifle Association to block Chipman’s confirmation:

The Guardian’s Dani Anguiano reports on the coronavirus surge in Medford, Oregon:

There was a time earlier this summer when April Rivera and the staff at the drive-through Covid testing site in southern Oregon where she worked had considered closing their doors because demand was so low.

Now, hundreds of patients are lining up at the Asante Rogue regional medical center’s testing site in Medford every day, filling the temporary drive-through in a strip mall parking lot. Even the national guard has been called in to help. Some patients are arriving so sick they’ve been taken away in ambulances while still in line.

Despite the widespread availability of vaccines, this region of Oregon is in the grip of an intense Covid-19 surge that has filled local hospitals to capacity, overwhelmed healthcare workers and killed 37 people in the last two weeks.

Last month, cases in the Medford area in Jackson county were growing faster than anywhere else in the US, driven by the hyper-contagious Delta variant and a low vaccination rate.

On Friday afternoon at the drive-through testing site, under a thick haze of wildfire smoke, a steady stream of patients waited in their cars to receive tests.

Biden to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for all federal workers - reports

Joe Biden is reportedly expected to announce today that he will require all federal workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus, without any testing option to opt out of the mandate.

CNN reports:

Among the steps the President will take is signing an executive order requiring all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out of the requirement, according to a source familiar with the plans.

The President will also sign an executive order directing the same standard be extended to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government. The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service and National Institutes of Health will also complete their previously announced vaccination requirements, which the White House estimates covers 2.5 million workers.

Biden announced in July that federal workers would be required to attest to being vaccinated or receive regular coronavirus tests to limit the spread of coronavirus in government workplaces.

However, the president has been under intense pressure to ramp up vaccine requirements as coronavirus case numbers have climbed due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Melody Schreiber reports for the Guardian:

As millions of children head back to school across the US, health experts are highlighting a troubling trend: hundreds of thousands of them are testing positive for Covid.

More than 250,000 children had new cases in the last week of August, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a report published on Tuesday. That’s the highest weekly rate of new pediatric cases since the pandemic began, and it’s a 10% increase in two weeks.

With slightly more than 1m new Covid cases reported in the US during that period, that means one of every four new cases in the country was among children.

Children’s hospitals are straining under the spike in cases. About 2,500 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the week up to 6 September, which is also more than ever before, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

A total of 750,000 children tested positive between 5 August and 2 September, the AAP said. In the same time period, 54,859 children were admitted to hospitals, according to the CDC.

Over the course of the pandemic, 5 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 444 have died, the AAP said.

Melody Schreiber reports for the Guardian:

Charlaine was skeptical of the vaccines at first. She wondered how they were created so quickly, and she was wary of the long history of medical experimentation and disregard for Black people like her in the United States.

But then Charlaine, a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, thought about the disparate health outcomes for people of color in the pandemic – and knew that she might not receive the same level of care as others if she got sick.

She did her research and determined that the mRNA vaccines, which became available to health workers late last year, are safe and effective. Charlaine, who asked to use only her first name to protect her job, got her vaccine in January.

“Here we have this virus that is killing, maiming, debilitating people, and I knew that if I was in a position of being sick, I would be treated differently and probably not survive. So that was one layer of protection that I wanted to give myself,” she said.

A year and a half into the pandemic, healthcare workers are exhausted, burned out and worried that the worst is far from over. Amid that stress, much attention has been focused on nurses who haven’t received the vaccine, even though the majority of these essential workers have been inoculated. That has left many nurses feeling betrayed, both by their unvaccinated patients and by public perception.

Biden to outline new strategy to combat Delta variant of coronavirus

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden will deliver a speech today on “his robust plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccinations,” according to his official schedule.

The White House has said the president will outline six steps to get the virus under control, as case numbers have climbed in recent weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Joe Biden deliver remarks in honor of labor unions during an event in the East Room of the White House.
Joe Biden deliver remarks in honor of labor unions during an event in the East Room of the White House. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

“He’s going to lay out these six steps tomorrow because we have more work to do, and we are still at war with the virus and with the Delta variant,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.

Asked whether average Americans’ daily lives would be affected by the president’s new strategy, Psaki replied, “It depends on if you’re vaccinated or not.”

As of now, 75% of US adults have received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many Americans, namely children, are still not eligible to get vaccinated, leaving many questions about how schools can remain open in communities with high levels of coronavirus spread. Biden will likely address that very issue this afternoon.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.


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