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The Biden administration defended its decision not to sanction Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally for his role in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as the White House confirmed no more actions against the kingdom are imminent.

“The United States has not historically sanctioned the leaders of countries where we have diplomatic relations or even some where we don’t have diplomatic relations,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Behind the scenes there are a range of diplomatic conversations.”

Despite President Joe Biden’s comment Friday in an interview with Univision that “we’re going to be announcing significant changes today and on Monday” — and a similar statement from at the White House on Saturday — the administration said it isn’t planning steps beyond the limited sanctions already announced against some Saudi officials.

“The recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia began on January 20th and it’s ongoing,” the White House said in a statement. “The Administration took a wide range of new actions on Friday. The President is referring to the fact that on Monday, the State Department will provide more details and elaborate on those announcements, not new announcements.”

Psaki, in a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the administration has been “crystal clear at every level” about recalibrating the relationship with Saudi Arabia and about it’s plan to “turn the page from the last four years.”

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On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced what he called a new “Khashoggi Ban” policy, barring U.S. visas for 76 Saudi individuals who the U.S. said had threatened dissidents abroad.

That action came after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified version of an intelligence report that the Trump administration had withheld from the public. “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the intelligence agencies found.

Democratic lawmakers ramped up their calls for Biden to do more to hold the Saudi crown prince personally responsible. Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox that sanctions on Prince Mohammed should be considered “if we don’t see a change in behavior.”

The crown prince has said he accepts symbolic responsibility for the killing as the country’s de facto ruler. Saudi officials have said the murder was carried out by rogue agents who have since been prosecuted.

On Friday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the government “completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.
(Livemint)

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Former White House doctor opens up on Biden’s ’embarrassing struggle’ through press conference

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Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) said Biden muddled through his first press conference as president with the help of his “biggest fans,” the White House press corps.

After President Joe Biden’s difficult press conference Thursday following his stumbles up the stairs of Air Force One just days earlier, concerns over the new president’s health continue to loom large among Americans, including former White House physician Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who called Biden’s recent struggles a “major red flag.”

Jackson served as White House physician under former presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. He won election to the House in 2020 and now represents the 13th District of Texas. Following Biden’s shaky press conference reliant on “cheat-sheet” notes, the physician took to social media to share his view of Biden’s declining health.

“This ‘Press Brief’ was EMBARRASSING! Not only for Biden, but for the liberal press corps as well,” Jackson wrote on Twitter

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. “He struggled to make it through, despite the fact that he followed a strict order of reporters to call on and was reading what appeared to be prepared answers from the podium.”

Earlier this week, Jackson spoke as a former White House physician about the individual health preconditions necessary to serve successfully as president.

“I’ve seen what it takes physically AND mentally to do the job,” he tweeted. “I can tell you right now that the way Biden is hiding from the public is a MAJOR red flag. Something’s not right!”

Jackson asserted that the press seem to be Biden’s “biggest fans” as reporters refrained from asking the president about tough topics such as China’s accountability for the virus and the criminal investigations into his son Hunter. 

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White House Confirms Biden Will Sign Executive Order on Gun Control

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President Joe Biden will sign executive orders on gun control in the near future, confirmed White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday.

When asked about the prospect of taking executive action, Psaki responded with, “Yes.”

“I can’t give you an exact time frame, in part, because they have to go through a review process, which is something that we do from here,” Psaki told reporters at the White House.

“I will note that when we, when the president was the vice president in the Obama-Biden administration, he helped put in place 23 executive actions to combat gun violence,” she added. “It’s one of the levers that we can use that any federal government, any president, can use to help address the prevalence of gun violence and address community safety around the country.”

On Thursday, during the president’s first news conference, he hinted at taking action but pivoted to his infrastructure agenda items.

Earlier this week, Vice President Kamala Harris indicated that Congress should pass gun control legislation but stopped short of saying Biden would issue an executive order.

“It is time for Congress to act,” the vice president said in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday. “It’s simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws. There is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society. They are weapons of war. They are designed to kill a lot of people quickly,” she added.

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But gun rights organizations such as the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners for America have raised red flags about Biden’s proposals, arguing they would violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

“In an apocalyptic environment where the filibuster has been eradicated, you can expect to see a Democrat Congress ramming through gun bans, gun owner registration, and more,” Gun Owners for America said days after Biden’s inauguration.

Meanwhile, it’s possible that courts could overturn any potential executive rule. This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a federal ban on bump stocks handed down by the ATF is likely illegal, while ordering that the ban be placed on hold.

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Biden Administration to Strengthen Protections for People Who Entered US Illegally as Children

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Friday it will issue a proposed rule to preserve and fortify a program for people who are living illegally in the United States after entering as children, nicknamed “Dreamers.”

President Joe Biden issued a memo on Jan. 20, his first day in office, that directed the agency and the U.S. attorney general to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects the Dreamers from deportation.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas referred to Biden’s actions on DACA in announcing his agency’s intent to strengthen the program’s protections for illegal immigrants.

“We are taking action to preserve and fortify DACA. This is in keeping with the President’s memorandum,” Mayorkas said in a statement, adding that while the move “is an important step,” only a legislative solution “can give full protection and a path to citizenship to the Dreamers who know the U.S. as their home.”

The Democrat-controlled House last week passed two immigration bills, including the American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, which would offer conditional legal status for 10 years to “Dreamers” who meet certain criteria, like being 18 or younger when they entered the United States, and not have serious criminal records.

Other provisions of the bill offer Dreamers permanent residency status—or a green card—if they have a higher education degree, serve in the military, or have been employed for at least three years. After five years, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship, just like other people who have obtained green cards.

An estimated 4.4 million illegal immigrants in total could become eligible for permanent residency if the Dreamers bill becomes law, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The legislation faces an uncertain future in the deeply divided Senate, however, as the bill would require at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to break the filibuster. Nine Republicans joined all Democrats to support the American Dream and Promise Act when it cleared the House on March 18.

The DACA program has for years been a political hot potato. It was created by an executive order signed in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, following failed immigration reform negations on Capitol Hill.

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Many conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, have argued DACA is unconstitutional, although Trump expressed sympathy for the Dreamers’ plight and indicated openness to a negotiated, bipartisan solution.

Trump tried to end the DACA program in 2017, saying at the time that winding it down would provide Congress a “window of opportunity” to act on the issue, but bitter partisan divisions over immigration meant that never happened.

Trump’s decision to end the program was met with opposition and sparked a legal battle that led to multiple federal courts—including the U.S. Supreme Court—ruling against the move to end DACA, with some federal judges ordering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue accepting and adjudicating on DACA renewal applications.

DACA defenders say that the recipients should not be faulted for their parents’ decision to violate U.S. immigration laws to bring them into the country. They argue that there would be a number of social and economic costs should the program end. They say many of these recipients have contributed to the U.S. economy and removing the program would threaten the nation’s future workforce and impose massive costs to employers who currently employ these people.

For DACA opponents, the case represents an overreach of executive authority and a usurpation of Congress’s lawmaking powers. They have argued that Obama exercised unlawful executive authority to create the program and that only Congress can enact such a policy under its authority over immigration matters.

Opponents have also taken issue with the fact that DACA grants benefits to these recipients ahead of other immigrants who are toiling through legal channels to gain immigration and naturalization in the United States.

Mayorkas’ announcement comes as the DACA program faces another legal test, with a district court judge poised to issue a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Texas’ Republican attorney general, who wants the program declared illegal and phased out of existence.

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