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Twelve times since he took office, President Joe Biden has dialed up a world leader after reinstituting what was a long-held White House standard mothballed by Donald Trump: vigorous preparation. Gone are unnecessary digressions and over-the-top cajoling or haranguing of fellow heads of state.

A new-old ritual is taking shape in the Biden White House, one that starts with bulky briefing packages, war-gaming the “what-ifs,” and Oval Office discussions about how to talk to this or that particular U.S. ally or adversary.

Biden’s foreign policy will ultimately be judged on results more than form or preparation. But his approach so far is a marked change from Trump, who seemed to have better rapport with autocrats like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un than with many historic U.S. allies. The former president frequently strayed far from telephone talking points and advice his aides provided for his dialogue with world leaders.

Leaked conversation transcripts showed that days into his administration, Trump disposed with diplomatic niceties and hectored Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto against publicly saying that Mexico would never pay for a southern border wall, a signature call of the president’s 2016 campaign.

Trump also complained to Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he was forcing Trump to endure the most “unpleasant call” and was “worse than I am” for detaining refugees on small islands off Australia.

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As was the practice with past administrations, Biden advisers are typically preparing the president with a package of written background information, including summaries of recent developments in the country, a recap of previous interactions with the leader, talking points on issues to highlight, as well as “if asked” notes to help shape the president’s response to hot-button issues that his counterpart might raise.

Trump aides realized early on that the president had little patience for briefing material. At first, they offered him a six-page pre-brief with attachments ahead of calls, but that proved to be too long. So they did a one-page version. Trump later was given note cards that typically contained just three talking points.

“Sweating the details on every single word in a memo didn’t matter, because communicating the right message on behalf of the United States didn’t matter to the president,” said Frances Brown, who served as a senior adviser on the National Security Council in the Trump and Obama administrations. “For an NSC staffer, it invited a bit of an existential crisis.”

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Biden administration

VIDEO: Biden administration faces lawsuit from Texas, Missouri

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Texas AG Ken Paxton tells newsmen that he believes the states will win in court and discusses the debate over reforming the Supreme Court.

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Border Crisis

Sen. Blackburn asks Biden admin why U.S. spending $284K per migrant family to keep them in hotels

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“The cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person,” the Tennessee senator says.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn has done the math.

The Tennessee Republican’s interest was piqued after the Biden administration announced its intention to spend nearly $87 million to house 1,200 foreigners who illegally cross the border in hotel rooms in the U.S.

“As the current contract stands, the cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person,” Blackburn wrote in a letter Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Tae Johnson. “For a family of four, that amounts to a shocking $284,000 – enough to buy a small house.”

Earlier this month, the administration awarded ICE an $86.9 million contract through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, which will provide hotel rooms near the border for temporary shelter. But Blackburn also questions how the group spends its money.

She said Endeavors in 2018 collected more than $38 million in contributions and grants but noted that “IRS filings show that nearly $22 million or almost half of those contributions went to salaries.”

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“This raises questions if half of the $86.9 million in ICE contract proceeds will likewise be allocated toward employee and executive compensation instead of migrant services or housing,” Blackburn wrote in her letter.

She also expressed concerns that Endeavors’ CEO Jon Allman has not provided “specific details about the contract.”

“It is unclear whether this nonprofit has ever previously managed a contract of this magnitude, housed a migrant population of this size or served vulnerable children without putting them at further risk,” Blackburn wrote. “DHS and ICE must provide commitments to assure Congress and the American public that Endeavors is up for the task of securely and efficiently housing illegal immigrants without resulting in waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars, or worse, harming vulnerable migrant children.”

Blackburn asked for answers by April 15.

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Border Crisis

Joe Biden: ‘I Don’t Care’ if Donald Trump Visits the Border

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President Joe Biden dismissed the news that former President Donald Trump is considering a visit to the southern border.

A reporter questioned Biden about the border crisis, and reports about Trump’s possible visit, as he returned to Washington from a weekend at his home in Delaware.

“We are putting in place a plan that I feel very confident about,” Biden replied. “And I don’t care what the other guy does.”

Biden did not answer a question about when he would make his own trip to visit the border.

Former President Trump confirmed he is interested in visiting the border to highlight Biden’s border crisis in the “next couple of weeks,” during an interview Saturday on Fox News.

“Thousands and thousands of people are coming up right now as we speak,” Trump said. “And you’re going to have millions of people pouring into our country. And it’s going to destroy our country.”

Biden continues struggling to manage the border crisis, despite publicly delegating Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday to lead the administration’s efforts to secure the border.

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But on Friday, Harris’s team clarified that the vice president “was not doing the border” but only leading the “diplomatic efforts” with Latin American countries to address the root causes of migration.

Both Biden and Harris refuse to commit to visiting the border, despite record numbers of unattended child migrants crossing into the U.S. and overwhelming Border Patrol detention facilities.

Despite the Biden administration repeatedly telling migrants the border is closed, the president makes it clear that unattended migrant children are not getting sent back.

“The only people we’re not going to let sitting there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children,” Biden said during his press conference on Sunday.

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