Biden says Trump abused his office, ignored most Americans

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to union members during a visit to a union hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 29, 2019. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)
Updated 30 April 2019
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Biden says Trump abused his office, ignored most Americans

  • "We need a president who works for all Americans," the Democrat leader says
  • Biden now leads national polls of Democratic preference for the party’s 2020 primary

PITTSBURGH, US: Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of abusing the powers of his office and ignoring everyone but his political base Monday in his first public rally as presidential candidate, arguing in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania that strengthening unions and promoting social and economic unity can restore Democrats to the White House.
The former vice president told hundreds of supporters and labor activists that Saturday’s deadly shooting at a California synagogue proves anew that the country is “in a fight for its soul.” But he spent more time criticizing Trump for his political behavior than for the president’s past comments concerning white supremacists, unlike Biden’s video formally kicking off his presidential campaign last week.
“There’s only one thing that stands in our way. It’s our broken political system that’s deliberately being undermined by our president to continue to abuse the power of the office,” Biden said.
He called Trump “the only president who has decided not to represent the whole country. He has his base. We need a president who works for all Americans.”
Earlier in the day, Biden received the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, and many in the crowd wore union T-shirts and carried signs supporting him. They repeatedly interrupted him with cries of “We want Joe!” and the candidate declared: “I make no apologies. I am a union man” to sustained applause.
Biden’s 40-minute speech swung from vows of union solidarity to broadsides against Trump, but lacked the sharp focus on the president that marked his campaign announcement video last week.
Instead, Biden on Monday returned to his familiar, folksy pitch to working class voters and avoided the sweeping, liberal policy proposals embraced by much of the rest of the crowded 2020 Democratic field.
Biden promoted incremental steps to shrink college costs and expand health care access, unlike some rivals who have called for free or debt-free college and universal, government-run health care, paid for with significant tax increases.
“We can do all this without punishing anybody,” Biden said,
Biden is scheduled to continue his introductory campaign steps in the premier caucus state of Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Trump, meanwhile, stepped up his criticism of Biden and boasted on Twitter about his own strong support among union members before Biden offered his pro-union message in Pittsburgh. Trump won Pennsylvania in surprising fashion in 2016, but Biden promised that his party would improve its standing by bringing the country together, not further dividing it.
The Teamsters Union ballroom in Pittsburgh is in a gritty Pittsburgh warehouse neighborhood that is undergoing an economic revival. The ballroom was full well before the event started, and the line to get in stretched down the sidewalk.
Biden now leads national polls of Democratic preference for the party’s 2020 primary, and in Iowa, which votes first in the contest. He also raised more than any of his roughly 20 rivals in the first 24 hours of their official candidacies. However, his age — 76 — could work against him as the party looks for new blood.
Biden’s event Thursday had an economic theme and featured a different line of attack on Trump than he offered in the video kicking off his White House bid last week. The video began with the words, “Charlottesville, Virginia,” a fresh condemnation of what many feel is a stain on Trump’s presidency — his defense of white nationalists by suggesting “both sides” were to blame for the violence that claimed the life of an anti-racist demonstrator there in August 2017.
Trump on Friday defended his original answer, insisting that he wasn’t sticking up for white supremacists but those who were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Those protesters who descended on Charlottesville two summers ago did so chanting white nationalist slogans and carrying Confederate flags, however, and were joined by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
Trump has often been slow to condemn violence perpetrated by white nationalists, and has long insisted that his words were misinterpreted and the media were twisting their meaning in unfavorable ways.
Privately, he has defended his initial response in the hours after the Charlottesville attack and was angry that aides persuaded him to do a more formal cleanup statement days later at the White House. After stewing about the media coverage of his comments, he spoke on the incident a third time, saying there were “very fine people” on both sides of the clash — which Biden referenced in his campaign kickoff video.
There was more bloodshed this weekend as a shooter killed one woman and injured the rabbi and two other people at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. And Pittsburgh was the site of worse earlier shooting, in which 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue October.
Trump has condemned both shooting incidents and has repeatedly griped that he is unfairly blamed for violence by white supremacists.
Biden briefly mentioned the California shooting.
“We’re reminded again because we are in a battle. We are in a battle for America’s soul and I really believe that,” Biden said.


White House threatens to veto aid bill for migrant families

Updated 25 June 2019
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White House threatens to veto aid bill for migrant families

  • Hispanic and liberal Democrats press House leaders to add provisions to the legislation strengthening protections for migrant children
  • Many House Democrats say the Senate version’s provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough

WASHINGTON: The White House is threatening to veto a $4.5 billion House bill aimed at improving the treatment of migrant families detained after crossing the US southern border, saying the measure would hamstring the administration’s border security efforts and raising fresh questions about the legislation’s fate.
The warning came as Hispanic and liberal Democrats press House leaders to add provisions to the legislation strengthening protections for migrant children, changes that might make the measure even less palatable to President Donald Trump. Though revisions are possible, House leaders are still hoping for approval as early as Tuesday.
The Senate planned to vote this week on similar legislation that has bipartisan backing, but many House Democrats say the Senate version’s provisions aimed at helping migrant children are not strong enough. House Democrats seeking changes met late Monday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Right now, the goal is really to stop — one death is just too much,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., as he left that meeting.
Many children detained entering the US from Mexico have been held under harsh conditions, and Customs and Border Protection Chief Operating Officer John Sanders told The Associated Press last week that children have died after being in the agency’s care. He said Border Patrol stations are holding 15,000 people — more than triple their maximum capacity of 4,000.
Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess. While lawmakers don’t want to depart without acting on the legislation for fear of being accused of not responding to humanitarian problems at the border, it seems unlikely that Congress would have time to send a House-Senate compromise to Trump by week’s end.
In a letter Monday threatening the veto, White House officials told lawmakers they objected that the House package lacked money for beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to let it detain more migrants. Officials also complained in the letter that the bill had no money to toughen border security, including funds for building Trump’s proposed border wall.
“Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its passage,” the letter said.
Several Democrats said some language they were seeking could end up in separate legislation. Several said changes might include provisions aimed at ensuring that detained children are treated humanely.
“We’ve got lives at stake,” said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif. He said the US has been “the gold standard” for treating refugees fleeing dangerous countries, “and I don’t think we should compromise that at all.”
The meeting may have helped ease Democratic complaints. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters before the meeting that she would oppose the bill but left the door open afterward, saying, “I oppose the situation we’re in, but my main goal is to keep kids from dying.”
Much of the legislation’s money would help care for migrants at a time when federal officials say their agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of migrants and are running out of funds.
The back-and-forth on the spending measure came as Congress’ top Democrats criticized Trump for threatening coast-to-coast deportations of migrants.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that he would give Congress two weeks to solve “the Asylum and Loopholes problems” along the border with Mexico. “If not, Deportations start!” he tweeted.
The president had earlier warned that there would soon be a nationwide sweep aimed at “millions” of people living illegally in the US, including families. The sweeps were supposed to begin Sunday, but Trump said he postponed them.
Pelosi, D-Calif., said the threatened raids were “appalling” when she was asked about them at an immigration event Monday in Queens, New York.
“It is outside the circle of civilized human behavior, just kicking down doors, splitting up families and the rest of that in addition to the injustices that are happening at the border,” she said.
On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described Trump’s “chilling, nasty, obnoxious threats” and said the president “seems far more comfortable terrorizing immigrant families” than addressing immigration problems.
“I mean, my God, to threaten separating children from their parents as a bargaining chip? That’s the very definition of callousness,” Schumer said.
It is not clear exactly what Trump, who has started his 2020 re-election bid, means regarding asylum and loophole changes. He’s long been trying to restrict the numbers of people being allowed to enter the US after claiming asylum and impose other restrictions, a path he’s followed since he began his quest for president years ago. His threatened deportations came as authorities have been overwhelmed by a huge increase of migrants crossing the border into the US in recent months.
For years, Democrats and Republicans have unable to find middle ground on immigration that can pass Congress. It seems unlikely they will suddenly find a solution within two weeks.