US ‘concerned’ Russia preparing for an invasion in Ukraine – live

LIVE – Updated at 19:14

White House says feared invasion ‘may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes, should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives’.


19:14 Martin Pengelly

The Republican senator who Anthony Fauci called a “moron” in a congressional hearing wants to introduce a bill both targeting and named after Joe Biden’s chief White House adviser.

Roger Marshall of Kansas will introduce the “Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals [Fauci – geddit] Act”, after claiming Fauci’s financial records were not readily accessible to the public.

The senator attacked Fauci on Tuesday.

“I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question,” said Fauci, 81. “My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so.”

He also said: “All you have to do is ask for it. You’re so misinformed, it’s extraordinary.”

Fauci was then heard on a “hot mic” to say: “What a moron. Jesus Christ.”

In a statement, Marshall repeated attack lines pursued by Rand Paul of Kentucky – producing another confrontation with Fauci, and said: “Calling me a moron during a Senate hearing may have alleviated the stress of the least trusted bureaucrat in America, but it didn’t take away from the facts.”

The Center for Public Integrity subsequently said Marshall was wrong, but that Fauci’s records were not easy to obtain.

Related: Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at Senate hearing as daily Covid cases soar

Third anti-Trump Republican to retire

18:57 Martin Pengelly

Another House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump will retire at the next election.

© Provided by The Guardian
John Katko. Photograph: Reuters

John Katko of New York follows Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio in deciding to step down rather than take on a Trump-endorsed challenger for his seat.

Seven other House Republicans voted to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January, around which five people died and over which more than 725 people have been charged, 11 of them, yesterday, with sedition.

That made it the most bipartisan impeachment. Trump escaped conviction, however, when only seven Republican senators could be convinced to vote for his guilt.

The most prominent among the 10 members of the House who voted for impeachment is Liz Cheney, like Kinzinger a member of the select committee investigating 6 January, thereby confronting and infuriating pro-Trump party leaders. Cheney faces a Trump-backed primary challenger in Wyoming.

In a statement, Katko said he was retiring so he could “enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way”.

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The White House warned Russia is preparing a false flag operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine. “We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion in Ukraine that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes, should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
  • Joe Biden announced the federal government will pay 100% of the costs to repair small bridges in communities with limited funds to do so. The policy is part of the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which Biden signed in November. The law includes $27.5bn to repair the nation’s bridges.
  • Biden acknowledged this has been a disappointing few weeks for Democrats, after the party suffered defeats on a voting rights bill and the Build Back Better Act. “There’s a lot of talk about disappointments on things we haven’t gotten done,” Biden said. “We’re going to get a lot of them done.” His comments came one day after Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin indicated they would not support changing the filibuster to pass a voting rights bill, killing any hope of a swift passage for the legislation.

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

Biden announces federal government will pay 100% of costs to repair small bridges

Joe Biden touted that the bipartisan infrastructure law includes funding for the largest investment in the country’s bridges since the creation of the interstate highway system.

The president noted there are currently 45,000 bridges in the US that are in poor condition and need repairs, resulting in longer commutes for millions of Americans.

As part of the infrastructure law, the federal government will spend $27.5bn to repair those bridges. Biden also announced that the federal government will pay 100% of the costs to repair small bridges in communities with limited funds to do so.

“With this investment, we’re sending a message to those communities and to the people who call them home: you matter,” Biden said. “These investments are consequential, and we’re just getting started.”

The president then concluded his prepared remarks, and he walked away from the podium without taking any questions from reporters.

‘There’s a lot of talk about disappointments,’ Biden says after voting rights defeat

Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which he signed in November.

“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments on things we haven’t gotten done. We’re going to get a lot of them done, I might add,” Biden said at the top of his remarks.

“But this is something we did get done, and it’s of enormous consequence to the country,” he said of the infrastructure law.

Biden’s speech comes one day after he acknowledged Democrats may not be able to pass a voting rights bill, after Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin said they would not support changing the filibuster to do so.


Joe Biden emphasized that the bipartisan infrastructure law will help to create good-paying jobs for Americans, in addition to improving roads and bridges.

“When we invest in infrastructure, we’re really investing in opportunity,” the president said. “These are investments that will build a better America. It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s real.”

Biden noted that many Americans have written to him explaining how the country’s failing infrastructure has personally impacted them.

“I hear you,” Biden said. “You do matter to me, and we are going to get it done.”


During her White House briefing today, Jen Psaki also addressed the situation in Ukraine, as fears intensify over a potential Russian invasion.

US officials have now accused the Kremlin of planning a false flag operation to justify an invasion, despite recent efforts to deescalate tensions in the region.

“We are concerned that the Russian government is preparing for an invasion in Ukraine that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes, should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives,” Psaki said.


Speaking at the White House briefing yesterday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US has been “very clear with Russia on the costs and consequences of further military action or destabilization in Ukraine”.

Sullivan also sent the message that the Biden administration is prepared for all possible outcomes, whether Russia chooses to invade Ukraine or not.

“We’re ready either way,” Sullivan said. “We’re ready to make progress at the negotiating table – serious, tangible progress on important issues of concern to us, to Europe, and to Russia in an environment of de-escalation.

“And we’re ready to take the necessary and proper steps to defend our allies, support our partners, and respond robustly to any naked aggression that might occur.”

Sullivan said the White House has made its case that diplomacy, rather than increased aggression, is “the more sensible path” for Russia.

“The Russians will have to make their own assessment,” he concluded.


Joe Biden will soon deliver remarks at the White House on the bipartisan infrastructure law, which the president signed in November.

The White House said Biden would be joined by Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor who is overseeing implementation of the infrastructure law.

According to Biden’s official schedule, his remarks will focus on “how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild America’s bridges, which are critical for getting to school and work, moving commerce, and connecting communities”.

Stay tuned.


Jen Psaki was asked for the White House’s message to Joe Biden’s supporters who are disappointed that they have not seen significant progress made on voting rights, climate change and student debt, among other issues.

“Our message to them is that we’re still fighting for absolutely every component of what you just listed,” the White House press secretary said.

“Right now we’re dealing with the realities of the fact that we have a very slim majority in the Senate and in the House. That makes things more challenging than they have been in the past.”

Psaki argued the administration had seen major successes on a variety of other fronts, including boosting coronavirus vaccination rates and helping schools reopen safely.

“So the message from the president to them is, he is committed to continuing to fight,” Psaki said. “He’s going to stay at it.”

Biden will likely reiterate that message next Wednesday, when he holds a formal press conference to mark one year since he took office.

Biden to hold press conference next week

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters, and she opened her remarks with an important announcement about Joe Biden’s schedule.

The president will hold a formal press conference next Wednesday at 4pm, as he marks one year in office.

Biden will likely face an array of difficult questions about his failures to pass the Build Back Better Act or a voting rights bill, which are two of his top legislative priorities.

In comparison to his recent predecessors, the president has held relatively few press conferences over his first year in office, although the Psaki often emphasizes that Biden frequently takes questions from reporters in more informal settings.


The US allegations of Russia planning a false flag operation to justify invading Ukraine come just as Ukraine is reeling from a massive cyber-attack that affected the websites of several government departments.

The Guardian’s Luke Harding reports:

Officials said it was too early to draw any conclusions but they pointed to a ‘long record’ of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine, with the attack coming after security talks between Moscow and the US and its allies this week ended in stalemate.

Suspected Russian hackers left a message on the foreign ministry website, according to reports. It said: ‘Ukrainians! … All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It’s your past, present and future.”’

The message reproduced the Ukrainian flag and map crossed out. It mentioned the Ukrainian insurgent army, or UPA, which fought against the Soviet Union during the second world war. There was also a reference to ‘historical land’.

Related: Ukraine hit by ‘massive’ cyber-attack on government websites

US claims Russia planning ‘false-flag’ operation to justify Ukraine invasion

The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Luke Harding report:

The US has alleged Russia has already positioned saboteurs in Ukraine to carry out a false flag operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack which Washington says could begin in the coming month.

The allegations, following similar claims by the government in Kyiv, come after the failure of a week of diplomacy to defuse the crisis provoked by Russia’s massing of over 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders. Moscow has persistently portrayed the crisis as a military threat from Ukraine against Russia, without providing any evidence.

“Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine,” a US official said.

“We have information that indicates Russia has already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine.”

“Russian influence actors already starting to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in state and social media,” the official said, noting that Russia used similar tactics ahead of the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Related: US claims Russia planning ‘false-flag’ operation to justify Ukraine invasion


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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, called on her colleagues to recommit themselves to extending the expanded child tax credit program as families missed out on payments today.

“Today is the first time in six months that 36 million families will not receive their monthly Child Tax Credit payments after the Senate failed to act at the end of last year,” DelBene said in a statement.

“While parents will not be receiving this critical lifeline this month, bills are still coming in, food still needs to be put on the table, and the other costs of raising a family still need to be paid.”

DelBene said the expanded program had “provided a historic tax cut to middle-class families and lifted 3.8 million children out of poverty,” underscoring the need to renew the policy.

“I’m committed to continuing the discussion about how we continue to deliver for American families and show that governance can work for them,” DelBene said.

“There is significant energy from Democrats in both chambers and the White House to get this over the finish line. American families cannot afford further inaction or delay.”


The monthly checks from the expanded child tax credit program would have gone out today – if congressional Democrats had been able to pass their Build Back Better bill to extend the program.

Instead, millions of American families will have to go without the money this month because Democrats were unable to pass the $1.75tn spending package due to objections from Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia.

Announcing his opposition last month, Manchin expressed concern about the cost of the legislation, saying, “I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”

But for the thousands of families in West Virginia who had come to rely on the checks, Manchin’s stance means they will have to find another way to balance their budgets this month.

According to the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy, 50,000 children in the state are at risk of falling into poverty now that the checks have come to an end.

Read Zack Harold’s story about the impact that the checks have had on West Virginia families:

Related: West Virginians scramble to get by after Manchin kills child tax credits


Politico has some details on what happened behind closed doors yesterday, as Joe Biden met with Senate Democrats to discuss filibuster reform and voting rights.

Politico reports:

Even as Democrats filed into their caucus meeting with Biden about changing Senate rules to reform federal elections, a response to GOP-backed state laws designed to restrict ballot access, a good portion of them were unaware they had already lost. Just minutes before the group’s meeting with Biden, [Kyrsten Sinema] slammed the door on weakening the filibuster during a speech on the Senate floor Biden once called home.

‘People were just surprised when we went in there. Because no one knew she was on the floor speaking’ in defense of the filibuster, said a Democratic senator who missed Sinema’s remarks. ‘There were probably 20 people in there that didn’t even know that she had said anything.’

Biden had prepared remarks for the meeting but instead opted to speak off-the-cuff, recalling that he got the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) to support the Voting Rights Act while they were both in Congress and arguing that a majority of today’s Republicans today wouldn’t support that landmark bill. Biden told senators he couldn’t remember a time in U.S. history where a party had been so enthralled to one person as the GOP is to former President Donald Trump.


Joe Biden held a meeting with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House last night for another discussion on filibuster reform and voting rights.

The White House described the three Democrats’ conversation as “a candid and respectful exchange of views about voting rights”.

Both Biden and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer will likely still try to sway Manchin and Sinema on changing the filibuster, in the hopes of getting a voting rights bill passed before the midterms.

But Manchin and Sinema have sounded quite adamant that they will not support rule changes to get a voting rights bill passed, so Biden and Schumer will have their work cut out for them.


14:49 Sam Levine

Kyrsten Sinema took to the Senate floor yesterday opposing any changes to the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation, while Democrats currently hold a bare majority in the 100-seat chamber and two voting rights bills are stalled.

“While I continue to support these [voting rights] bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” she said.

She added: “We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy, and it cannot be achieved by one party alone. It cannot be achieved solely by the federal government. The response requires something greater and, yes, more difficult than what the Senate is discussing today.”

Sinema’s speech came at an extremely perilous moment for US democracy. Republican lawmakers in 19 states have enacted 34 new laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, that impose new voting restrictions.

They have also passed a slew of bills that seek to inject more partisan control into election administration and the counting of votes, an unprecedented trend experts are deeply concerned about and call election subversion.

Many of those measures have been passed in state legislatures on simple majority, party-line votes.

Related: Sinema says no to filibuster reform to scuttle Democrats’ voting rights hopes

Biden to tout infrastructure law after major defeat on voting rights

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech this afternoon on the bipartisan infrastructure law, which he signed in November.

The remarks will focus on how the law “will rebuild America’s bridges, which are critical for getting to school and work, moving commerce, and connecting communities,” according to the White House.

The speech comes one day after Biden was dealt a major defeat by two members of his own party in the debate over voting rights and filibuster reform.

© Provided by The Guardian
Kyrsten Sinema on the left and Joe Biden on the right. Composite: Senate TV | Shutterstock

Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin made it clear yesterday that they will not support changing the filibuster, leaving Democrats with no path for passing a voting rights bill.

Simultaneously, Biden’s Build Back Better bill has also stalled in the Senate due to Manchin’s objections to the $1.75tn spending package.

So, as Biden touts the infrastructure law today, keep in mind that it may be his last significant legislative accomplishment for the time being.

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

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