Shock after Biden suggests Putin’s nuclear threats could mean ‘Armageddon’ – live

From 2h ago

What’s shocking about Biden’s remark isn’t that Vladimir Putin is considering using nuclear weapons.

The Russian president has personally threatened to do so as his military faces setbacks in its bloody invasion of Ukraine. But when the US president – who has access to information from America’s spy agencies that few others do – warns that Putin is indeed serious, and compares the current moment to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, then it’s something else. The question is: what?

One possibility is that the utterance was part of the public rhetoric campaign the White House has been waging to warn it against using a nuclear weapon. Last month, national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned doing so would bring “catastrophic consequences”.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser last night, Biden acknowledged a level of uncertainty about Russia’s goals, and how far Putin was willing to go to achieve them. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself where he does not only lose face but significant power?” Biden said.

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US president Joe Biden’s remark last night that Russian president Vladimir Putin was serious about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine and that doing so would risk “armageddon” was not based on any new intelligence, Semafor reports.

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The president’s dire assessment of the risk of nuclear war – which he said was at its highest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago – was instead a reflection of Washington’s seriousness when it comes to Putin’s increasingly strident rhetoric, a White House official said:

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A WH official says of Biden comments on Putin at DNC reception last night: &quot;The President’s comments reinforce how seriously we take these threats about nuclear weapons – as we have done when the Russians have made these threats throughout the conflict.&quot;

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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&quot;The kind of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen is no way for the leader of a nuclear armed state to speak,&quot; official says.

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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I'm told no new assessment drove his comments.

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. The job of an American president often involves reassuring or comforting the nation during uncertain times. Joe Biden instead gave Americans a blunt assessment of reality last night, when he suggested that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was not kidding with his threats to to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and warned the world was the closest it has been to “Armageddon” in six decades. Chilling stuff.

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Here’s what else is going on today:

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    \n

  • The president is back on the road with a trip that will take him to Hagerstown, Maryland, Philadelphia and finally Wilmington, Delaware, for the weekend.

  • \n

  • Wisconsin Republican senator Ron Johnson debates his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes at 8pm.

  • \n

  • New data shows the US labor market remained strong in September, adding 263,000 positions and sending the unemployment rate down to 3.5%.

  • \n

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Key events

Biden ‘armageddon’ remark not driven by new intelligence: White House

US president Joe Biden’s remark last night that Russian president Vladimir Putin was serious about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine and that doing so would risk “armageddon” was not based on any new intelligence, Semafor reports.

The president’s dire assessment of the risk of nuclear war – which he said was at its highest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago – was instead a reflection of Washington’s seriousness when it comes to Putin’s increasingly strident rhetoric, a White House official said:

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A WH official says of Biden comments on Putin at DNC reception last night: &quot;The President’s comments reinforce how seriously we take these threats about nuclear weapons – as we have done when the Russians have made these threats throughout the conflict.&quot;

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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A WH official says of Biden comments on Putin at DNC reception last night: “The President’s comments reinforce how seriously we take these threats about nuclear weapons – as we have done when the Russians have made these threats throughout the conflict.”

— Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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&quot;The kind of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen is no way for the leader of a nuclear armed state to speak,&quot; official says.

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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“The kind of irresponsible rhetoric we have seen is no way for the leader of a nuclear armed state to speak,” official says.

— Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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I'm told no new assessment drove his comments.

&mdash; Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

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I’m told no new assessment drove his comments.

— Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) October 7, 2022

Democrats are sounding the alarm about their fundraising numbers ahead of the 8 November midterms, The Washington Post reports.

While candidates have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in their bid to retain their majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans are outspending them in areas where Democrats are vulnerable, and have shown more flexibility in getting dollars to pay for television advertisements and other campaign tactics in races that need them most.

Here’s more from the Post:

Top Democratic strategists have concluded that they lack the funds needed to fully contest all of their potentially winnable House races this cycle, people familiar with the situation said, forcing tough decisions about where to spend on television ads as Republican outside groups flood the airwaves.

The relative shortfall in outside spending is likely to leave some Democratic incumbents in contested races at sharp advertising disadvantages, while restricting the party’s ability to compete in open seats or to unseat Republican incumbents, these people said.

“There are places that I don’t know if we are going to be able to get to,” said Tim Persico, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It’s just money. They have billionaires and corporations stepping up with big checks and we just don’t have the same type of support. We are just getting outspent everywhere, so it is just a question of how much can we withstand.”

Democrats pointed to a TV ad spending advantage by Republican outside groups, which have the flexibility to move money around the House landscape strategically in the final weeks. That edge has become more alarming as a recent shift in the national mood has put more seats in contention for Democrats, who find themselves hamstrung by the Republican advantage in donors on the GOP side.

Another House Democratic strategist said the inability to fully fund key races could prove to be the difference between winning and losing control of Congress, or between keeping Republicans to a five-seat majority and a 15-seat majority. “I don’t think it is hyperbole to say at this point that money is going to make the difference,” said this person, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely about strategy.

Democrats are not favored by nonpartisan analysts to hold the House this cycle, because of the narrow majority they now enjoy and the historical head winds that the president’s party typically faces in his first midterm elections. But some Democrats feel their chances of winning have risen in recent months, given a summer spike in Democratic enthusiasm after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion and a recent uptick in President Biden’s approval rating.

Either explicitly or implicitly, abortion will be on the ballots many Americans receive in the 8 November midterms. Will advocates of the procedure see a repeat of the success they had in Kansas, where they successfully kept abortion legal in a deeply red state? Poppy Noor digs into the issue:

When Kansans voted overwhelmingly to protect abortion this summer, the 59-41 referendum margin in the deep-red state sent shockwaves through the country, inspiring pro-choice advocates and sending anti-abortion campaigners scrambling for an unexpected political dogfight as five similar ballot initiatives approach in November.

The abortion referendums – in Kentucky, Montana, California, Vermont and Michigan – have seen both sides organize extensive campaigns.

In Kentucky and Montana, red like Kansas, it was Republicans and anti-abortion advocates who brought the initiatives with the aim of removing abortion protections from state constitutions.

As he often does with a healthy jobs report, Biden cheered the latest data as a sign that the economy is performing well under his watch:

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Today's jobs numbers are an encouraging sign that we are transitioning to stable, steady growth. And more Americans are working than ever before.

There's more to do to grow our economy from the bottom up and middle out, but we're making progress.

&mdash; President Biden (@POTUS) October 7, 2022

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Today’s jobs numbers are an encouraging sign that we are transitioning to stable, steady growth. And more Americans are working than ever before.

There’s more to do to grow our economy from the bottom up and middle out, but we’re making progress.

— President Biden (@POTUS) October 7, 2022

If you read between the lines, the “stable, steady growth” Biden is referring to is more aspiration than reality at the moment. Inflation remains high in the United States, though is believed to be poised to decline in the months ahead. Meanwhile, government data showed negative growth in the previous two quarters, raising fears of a recession. But that dynamic may also reverse in the final quarters of the year – creating the type of economic conditions Biden hopes revive his sagging popularity among American voters.

Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt has survived in court – again.

The Associated Press reports that a federal judge in Wisconsin has dismissed a lawsuit from a taxpayer group trying to stop the measure that would cancel as much as $20,000 in student loans for millions of borrowers.

Here’s more from the AP:

The Brown County Taxpayers Association argued that Biden’s order unlawfully circumvented Congress’ power over spending. They also argued the plan was discriminatory by seeking to give particular help to borrowers of color.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach, an appointee of President George W. Bush, tossed the case Thursday, writing that the group does not have standing to challenge the plan simply because they are taxpayers.

Biden enacted the debt relief plan under the HEROES Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks sparked an American-led military campaign aimed at terrorism. The act gave the executive branch authority to forgive student loan debt in association with military operations or national emergencies.

The president cited COVID-19 as reason to invoke the act. The lawsuit, filed by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of the taxpayers group, had argued it was an overextension of executive power that improperly sidestepped Congress.

A libertarian group last month sued over the plan in Indiana, but the AP reports a judge declined to block the White House proposal and told the plaintiffs to resubmit their argument.

Government data released this morning confirmed that the US labor market remains strong – but perhaps not that strong. Dominic Rushe dove into the numbers and tells us what he found:

US employers added 263,000 new jobs in September as the unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday.

The jobs market has shown signs of slowing recently after regaining all the jobs that were lost during the pandemic. September’s gain was down from the 315,000 jobs added in August and far lower than the 420,000 average monthly gain thus far in 2022. But growth has remained robust despite rising interest rates and growing fears of a recession.

How long the job market can maintain its current trajectory is unknown. The Federal Reserve blames the current cost of living crisis in part on a tight labor market and rising wages and has signaled it would like to see hiring fall, and unemployment rise, as it seeks to tamp down inflation.

Even after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago resort in August, The New York Times reports that investigators are skeptical that Donald Trump has turned over all the government documents in his possession. Here’s the latest on the saga from The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly:

The US Department of Justice has told lawyers for Donald Trump it thinks he has not handed back all the documents he took from the White House, the New York Times reported.

The paper said Jay Bratt, the DoJ head of counterintelligence operations, communicated with lawyers for Trump “in recent weeks”.

The news, the Times said, is “the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Mr Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents … supposed to have [been] turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term”.

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, said the news “looks like a major step toward an indictment of Trump by DoJ for obstruction of justice”.

What’s shocking about Biden’s remark isn’t that Vladimir Putin is considering using nuclear weapons.

The Russian president has personally threatened to do so as his military faces setbacks in its bloody invasion of Ukraine. But when the US president – who has access to information from America’s spy agencies that few others do – warns that Putin is indeed serious, and compares the current moment to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, then it’s something else. The question is: what?

One possibility is that the utterance was part of the public rhetoric campaign the White House has been waging to warn it against using a nuclear weapon. Last month, national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned doing so would bring “catastrophic consequences”.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser last night, Biden acknowledged a level of uncertainty about Russia’s goals, and how far Putin was willing to go to achieve them. “We are trying to figure out what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself where he does not only lose face but significant power?” Biden said.

Shock as Biden suggests Putin’s nuclear threats could mean ‘Armageddon’

Good morning, US politics blog readers. The job of an American president often involves reassuring or comforting the nation during uncertain times. Joe Biden instead gave Americans a blunt assessment of reality last night, when he suggested that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was not kidding with his threats to to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and warned the world was the closest it has been to “Armageddon” in six decades. Chilling stuff.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • The president is back on the road with a trip that will take him to Hagerstown, Maryland, Philadelphia and finally Wilmington, Delaware, for the weekend.

  • Wisconsin Republican senator Ron Johnson debates his Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes at 8pm.

  • New data shows the US labor market remained strong in September, adding 263,000 positions and sending the unemployment rate down to 3.5%.

The Guardian