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Biden nominates new ambassador as US plans to return diplomats to Ukraine – live – The Guardian

Biden nominates new ambassador as US plans to return diplomats to Ukraine – live

LIVE Updated 

Mon 25 Apr 2022 11.39 EDT

First published on Mon 25 Apr 2022 09.08 EDT

US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Kyiv with President Zelenskiy on Sunday.

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Joe Biden has punctuated secretary of state Antony Blinken’s announcement that US diplomats will return to Ukraine this week by nominating a new ambassador to the war-riven country.

Bridget Brink.

The president has chosen Bridget A Brink, currently the ambassador to Slovakia, to lead the US team, initially in the western city of Lviv, and later back in Kyiv when conditions are considered suitable.

Brink has spent her 25-year career in the foreign service “focused on advancing US policy in Europe and Eurasia,” according to a White House press release, and has served overseas postings in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Cypress and Georgia.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Brink will become the first US ambassador to Ukraine for three years. The post has been vacant since Marie Yovanovitch was dumped by Donald Trump as the then-president pressured his Ukraine counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiiy to investigate Biden and son Hunter’s business dealings in the country.

The US relocated diplomats to Poland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but joins numerous other nations looking to restore their presence following the withdrawal of Russian troops from around Kyiv.

According to the website foreignpolicy.com, at least 17 nations have already reopened their embassies or sent diplomats back to Kyiv, including western allies such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal.

The UK plans to reopen its Kyiv embassy this week.

Blinken, who was in Ukraine with defense secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday, said the US return to Kyiv would be more gradual, with the American diplomatic team first making short trips to Lviv and other western cities, then the capital city at an unspecified future date.

Read more about the US officials’ visit to Ukraine here:

More Americans approve than disapprove of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as its first Black female justice, a poll by the Associated Press has found.

But that support is politically lopsided: a majority of Black Americans, but fewer white and Hispanic Americans approve of her confirmation.

Supreme court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Overall, 48% of Americans say they approve and 19% disapprove of Jackson’s confirmation to the high court according to the AP-NORC center for public affairs research study. The remaining 32% of Americans hold no opinion.

The US Senate earlier confirmed Jackson’s nomination earlier this month by a 53-47 vote, fulfilling Joe Biden’s promise to name a Black woman to the court.

According to the AP, the poll’s findings suggest the confirmation did more to energize Biden’s Democratic base than it did to energize Republicans in opposition, despite vocal resistance from some GOP lawmakers who were largely united in voting against her. 80% of Democrats and only 18% of Republicans approve of Jackson replacing the retiring liberal justice Stephen Breyer.

Reporters just snatched a quick conversation with Joe Biden as he arrived back in Washington DC from Delaware, the president telling them: “I feel good about the French election.”

Many western leaders have sent their congratulations to the French president Emmanuel Macron, who defeated the far right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s poll.

Biden tweeted his congratulations on Sunday night, and said he also tried to call Macron, who was “busy”.

“I tried to talk to him last night, we spoke to the staff but he was at the Eiffel Tower having a good time, so I’m going to be talking to him today,” Biden said.

The president also told reporters at Joint Base Andrews that he hadn’t yet spoken with secretary of state Antony Blinken and defense secretary Lloyd Austin about their weekend trip to Ukraine, but was about to receive an update.

Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron on his re-election. France is our oldest ally and a key partner in addressing global challenges. I look forward to our continued close cooperation — including on supporting Ukraine, defending democracy, and countering climate change.

— President Biden (@POTUS) April 24, 2022

Could Donald Trump soon be back on Twitter? That’s the hope of some Republican congress members who have welcomed news that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is set to buy the social media platform for $43bn.

“Hey, @elonmusk it’s a great week to free @realDonaldTrump,” the House Republican Conference, representing 209 lawmakers, tweeted.

Hey, @elonmusk it’s a great week to free @realDonaldTrump.

— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) April 25, 2022

Twitter banned Trump permanently on 8 January last year for violating its “glorification of violence” policy, relating to tweets he sent his more than 80m followers about the 6 January insurrection and efforts to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.

But Musk claims to be a “free speech absolutist” and analysts expect him to allow the former president to return if his bid, which was initially rejected by the Twitter board, is successful.

The firebrand Ohio congressman and Trump ally Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus of conservative House Republicans, said the deal would be good for shareholders and good for free speech, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the extremist Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account was also permanently banned, said on her congressional Twitter feed: “I should get my personal Twitter account restored.”

Read more:

US Senators return to the Capitol today after a two-week Easter recess and get straight down to business with the confirmation of Lael Brainard for vice-chair of the federal reserve.

But it’s what’s coming up during the intense legislative sessions over the next few weeks that offers more intrigue, and a probable road map to the campaign for November’s midterm elections.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Joe Biden’s legislative agenda is on the line, alongside control of Congress itself.

The president will be pushing lawmakers to take up several key issues on which his fortunes rest, including more financial aid for Ukraine, reviving a stalled push for a bipartisan agreement on Covid-19 relief, and the likely resurrection of elements of his flagship Build Back Better social spending package that was blown apart by the Democratic West Virginia senator Joe Manchin a few months ago.

Joe Manchin.

Ukraine spending is arguably the most urgent priority, Biden informing Congress last week, after a further $800m investment in military supplies, bringing arms spending to more than $3bn, that he’d pretty much exhausted his existing authorization and would be asking for more.

“My hope and my expectation is that Congress would move and act quickly,” Biden said on Thursday.

But with his approval rating having sunk to the second worst in decades for a US president, according to The Hill, Biden will also be seeking success in his domestic agenda. Parts of Build Back Better could be key – if he can get them through.

While Manchin was a “no” on the $1.75tn size of the welfare and climate package, citing fears of worsening inflation for his refusal, the White House believes he can be persuaded by individual elements.

Axios reported last month that Manchin was open to agreements on climate change, prescription drug prices and deficit reduction. With Manchin back on board, and if fellow Democratic holdout Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is happy, Biden’s prospects are better in the 50-50 chamber. But it’s a big if.

His other key priority, coronavirus relief, is tied to immigration. A $10bn “agreement in principle” between leading Democratic and Republican senators fell apart when the Biden administration announced it was ending the Trump-era Title 42 policy of blocking refugees at the border because of the pandemic.

The money, mostly for vaccines, treatments and testing, was far below what the White House was seeking. But getting even that back on track again will be an uphill battle.

Amazon workers in New York will go to the polls again as labor activists push to unionize a second facility in the US following their surprise recent victory over the tech giant.

About 1,500 eligible workers at an LDJ5 Amazon sorting center in Staten Island, New York, begin voting in a union election on Monday, in a process that will continue through 29 April. Ballot-counting starts on 2 May.

Amazon has aggressively opposed unionization among its workforce, which totals about 1.1 million people in the US alone. The fight comes as workers at other major corporations including Starbucks are fighting to unionize.

Amazon has spent millions hiring union avoidance consultants. Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizers have alleged harassment and intimidation from management.

The company is vigorously contesting its first loss and has accused ALU of using “objectionable, coercive, and misleading behavior”, to convince workers to support them. Among other objections, Amazon claims the vote should be overturned because ALU “intentionally created hostile confrontations” and offered marijuana to workers in an “impermissible grant of support” for workers’ votes, according to filings obtained by the New York Times.

Voting Tents going ‼️⬆️ up We’re ready to make history again LDJ5 will be the 1st sortation center in the country to unionize @amazonlabor #ALU #ALUfortheWin ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/rcRq9KsaLb

— Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) April 18, 2022

The sorting center is right across the street from the JFK8 warehouse where workers won a historic first union election at Amazon in the US on 1 April.

It is the second union election petition filed by the ALU, an independent group of current and former Amazon workers with no affiliation with established labor unions and led by the former Amazon worker Chris Smalls.

Read more here:

Joe Biden has punctuated secretary of state Antony Blinken’s announcement that US diplomats will return to Ukraine this week by nominating a new ambassador to the war-riven country.

Bridget Brink.

The president has chosen Bridget A Brink, currently the ambassador to Slovakia, to lead the US team, initially in the western city of Lviv, and later back in Kyiv when conditions are considered suitable.

Brink has spent her 25-year career in the foreign service “focused on advancing US policy in Europe and Eurasia,” according to a White House press release, and has served overseas postings in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Cypress and Georgia.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Brink will become the first US ambassador to Ukraine for three years. The post has been vacant since Marie Yovanovitch was dumped by Donald Trump as the then-president pressured his Ukraine counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiiy to investigate Biden and son Hunter’s business dealings in the country.

The US relocated diplomats to Poland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but joins numerous other nations looking to restore their presence following the withdrawal of Russian troops from around Kyiv.

According to the website foreignpolicy.com, at least 17 nations have already reopened their embassies or sent diplomats back to Kyiv, including western allies such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal.

The UK plans to reopen its Kyiv embassy this week.

Blinken, who was in Ukraine with defense secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday, said the US return to Kyiv would be more gradual, with the American diplomatic team first making short trips to Lviv and other western cities, then the capital city at an unspecified future date.

Read more about the US officials’ visit to Ukraine here:

Good morning blog readers, and welcome to a brand new week in US politics.

Joe Biden has nominated his new ambassador to Ukraine, career diplomat Bridget A Brink, who currently fills the same role in Slovakia. The move comes as secretary of state Antony Blinken, who was in the country yesterday, revealed plans to move US diplomatic officials back into Ukraine.

Bridget Brink

A reminder that you can follow developments in the Ukraine conflict on our live 24-hour blog here.

What we’re also watching today:

  • The US Senate returns to business after the two-week Easter recess (the House gets an extra day off) with a busy legislative agenda in coming weeks, including pandemic relief, financial support for Ukraine and a probable revival of at least some of Joe Biden’s social spending plans.
  • Republican lawmakers including House speaker Kevin McCarthy head for the US southern border aiming to put pressure on Biden over immigration. But attention will probably be more focused on McCarthy’s audiotape troubles.
  • We might hear from Biden this afternoon as he welcomes hockey’s champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the White House.
  • Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, is scheduled to deliver her first briefing of the week at 3pm.

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