Biden strikes measured tone on Russian sanctions: The Note
Russia summoned the U.S. ambassador to Moscow and warned that it will respond.
In brief, careful remarks on Thursday, the president addressed those new sanctions imposed on Russia, emphasizing that the actions aren’t intended to be overly inflammatory.
“We could have gone further, but I chose not to do so. I chose to be proportionate,” said Biden. “The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship.”
Still, Russia summoned the U.S. ambassador to Moscow and warned that it will respond.
Among the wide-ranging sanctions are the expulsion of several Russian diplomats, sanctions of “16 entities and 16 individuals” involved in efforts to influence the 2020 presidential election, and the prohibition of U.S. financial institutions from certain dealings with Russian sovereign debt.
The sanctions caused Russia’s currency to slide Thursday and could have a broader impact on Russia’s economy, but what remains to be seen is if these sanctions will be effective in curtailing Russia’s nefarious activity.
During a Thursday House subcommittee hearing, top health officials continued to publicly urge Americans to get vaccinated but offered little insight into when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be put back into use.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a decision quite soon as to whether or not we can get back on track with this very effective vaccine,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. Fauci appeared alongside Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, who said federal agencies are “committed to remaining transparent” about developments regarding the single-shot vaccine, but she also did not offer any new updates.
Fauci told lawmakers the nation is at a “critical turning point” in the pandemic and warned that the U.S. is “in a race between vaccinating as many people as quickly and as expeditiously as we possibly can, and the threat of the resurgence of viruses in our country.”
GOP Rep. Jim Jordan took the opportunity to take a political swipe at Fauci, asking the president’s chief medical adviser when Americans will “get their liberties back.” Fauci replied that several scaled parameters must be met prior to people being allowed to safely resume their pre-pandemic lives. Jordan advanced the contentious exchange by demanding to hear a number.
Fauci said the U.S. must get its infection rate under 10,000 new cases a day in order for pandemic restrictions to be safely lifted, while also noting that “we’re not talking about liberties. We’re talking about a pandemic that has killed 562,000 Americans.”
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., got his first two Republican challengers this week, but his first-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission should serve as a warning that his fundraising prowess has not subsided. Warnock rounded out the top three fundraisers among Senate candidates in the 2020 cycle, coming in behind Jon Ossoff, Georgia’s other new Democratic senator, and Democratic National Committee chairman Jaime Harrison, who came up short against Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.
Over the first three months of 2021, Warnock raised over $5.7 million from individual contributions and transfers from other committees. He ended the quarter with over $5.6 million cash on hand — a robust war chest a year and a half out from the election.
The Republican candidates who’ve announced so far, Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, do not yet have national name recognition in a race that will be one of the GOP’s best pick-up opportunities next year. But announcing first gives both candidates an opportunity to stake a place in what’s expected to be a crowded field.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who Warnock beat in January’s runoff, and former Rep. Doug Collins, who Loeffler outperformed in November, are still considering bids.