That’s all from me on today’s live blog. Here’s a summary of the day:

  • Local and state law enforcement in Minnesota and Illinois are preparing for a night of protests f0llowing the killings of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.
  • It revealed that in April 2020 the FBI interviewed and seize a gun from Brandon Scott Hole, the 19-year-old who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx in Indianapolis on Thursday.
  • Joe Biden had a meeting and subsequent press conference with Yoshihide Suga, prime minister of Japan. It was his first time hosting a foreign head of state at the White House.
  • The White House announced plans to lift a Trump-era cap on refugees after Democrats and activists forcefully denounced a decision to keep admissions at the same level. Biden had previously committed to significantly raising the cap. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House would release a “final, increased” number next month.
  • A founding member of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal officials as part of their sprawling investigation into the 6 January attack.


Local and state law enforcement in Chicago are gearing up for a tense and potentially explosive night as hundreds of residents prepare to protest over the death of 13 year-old Adam Toledo, a Latino boy who was shot and killed by Chicago Police officer Eric Stillman 29 March. A demonstration is planned for Friday night at Logan Square park north of the predominantly Latino community of Little Village where Toledo grew up.

Body camera footage of the fatal encounter was released on Thursday and has since sparked outrage because of Toledo’s age and initial allegations that he pointed a gun at officers that have since been proven false.

The authorities had initially indicated that Adam had a gun in his hand as he turned towards officers during the chase, after failing to obey commands to stop. But the body-cam video showed Adam stopping as the officer shouts after him, turning and putting his hands up, with no sign of a weapon. ..” my colleagues Richard Luscombe and Gloria Oladipo wrote.

Read their piece on the city’s preparations here.

Hundreds are gathering in Logan Square this afternoon to protest the Chicago Police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo #Chicago #AdamToledo

— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) April 16, 2021


Minneapolis Public Schools are halting in-person instruction for the first half of next week in anticipation of the conclusion of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Closing arguments are expected to conclude on Monday. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the 25 May death of George Floyd.

Tensions in the state are extremely high as Chauvin’s trial winds down. And local and state law enforcement has been dealing with re-energized protests and civil unrest following the shooting death of 20 year-old Daunte Wright at the hands of a Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officers on 11 April.

Read the full report on the MPS closures on KARE Minneapolis’ NBC affiliate.

DEVELOPING: #Mpls public schools announce ALL schools will close to in-person learning next Wednesday-Friday (4/21-23) in anticipation of #DerekChauvinTrial verdict. All grades will do distance learning those days. Schools will operate under normal #COVID schedules Monday-Tuesday

— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) April 16, 2021


A member of the Oath Keepers a far-right militia group is the first person to plead guilty to federal charges in connection to the 6 January insurrection, according to the Associated Press.

Jon Ryan Schaffer, 53, of Columbus, Indiana, was accused of storming the Capitol and spraying officers with bear spray and is being charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, and entering and remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous or deadly weapon. Schaffer acknowledged that he was a “founding lifetime member” of the extremist group. He was also an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, voiced numerous conspiracy theories and referred to the federal government as a “criminal enterprise,” the FBI told the AP.

Schaffer turned himself into the FBI a few weeks after the capitol riot and has now agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as they continue to investigate other right-wing, white supremacist, and extremist groups.

More than 370 people are facing federal charges in the deadly insurrection.

Last year, the FBI interviewed the 19 year-old who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility before fatally shooting himself on Thursday, according to a new report from the Associated Press.

Agents went to the home of the shooter, who has been identified as Brandon Scott Hole, at the behest of his mother who worried that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” Paul Keenan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, told the AP that agents seized a gun but didn’t find any criminal evidence in Hole’s bedroom. Keenan would not elaborate on any items that were found.

Read the AP’s full story here.


During his press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister, Joe Biden re-emphasized his support of universal background checks and a new assault weapons ban after being asked about where gun violence prevention falls on his priority list.

Biden touted his decades-long dedication to gun control and called the nation’s steady stream of gun violence a “national embarrassment.” He also called on Republicans in Congress to pass the gun control legislation that remains at a constant stalemate.

“It’s not just the mass shootings. Every single day there are mass shootings in the United States if you count those who are killed in our cities and rural areas,” Biden said.

Hello, this is Abené Clayton reporting from the west coast. I’ll be taking over the blog for the next few hours.

Joe Biden is holding a press conference alongside Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan, to announce a new alliance between the two countries to help countries in the Indo-Pacific region recovery from the pandemic.

Suga is the first head of state to visit the White House under Biden.

Watch the press conference live here:


Afternoon summary

  • The White House announced plans to lift a Trump-era cap on refugees after Democrats and activists forcefully denounced a decision to keep admissions at the same level. Biden had previously committed to significantly raising the cap. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House would release a “final, increased” number next month.
  • Biden held his first in-person meeting with a foreign leader, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga, underscoring Biden’s determination to counter China’s growing assertiveness. The leaders are expected to hold a joint press conference shortly.
  • A founding member of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal officials as part of their sprawling investigation into the 6 January attack.


White House to raise Trump-era refugee cap next month amid backlash

Press Secretary Jen Psaki is pushing back on criticism of Biden’s presidential determination that keeps the number of refugee admissions at the historically low level set by Trump, asserting that the directive has been the “subject of some confusion”.

In a new statement issued after blowback from Democrats and refugees advocates, Psaki announced that the White House would set a “final, increased” cap in mid-May.

The President’s directive today has been the subject of some confusion. Last week, he sent to Congress his budget for the fiscal year starting in October 2021, which honors his commitment. For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely.

While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today’s order did that. With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.


A government watchdog has reportedly determined that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked state department employees to carry out scores of personal tasks for the couple.

According to Politico, which obtained a copy of the report compiled by the state department’s inspector general’s office, government investigators uncovered more than 100 instances in which Mike or Susan Pompeo “asked State Department staffers to handle tasks of a personal nature, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos’ political allies. Employees told investigators that they viewed the requests from Susan Pompeo, who was not on the federal payroll, as being backed by the secretary.”

Mike Pompeo reportedly defended the actions in an interview with investigators as the “types of things friends do for friends”. His lawyer, William Burck, assailed the report as a politically biased “compilation of picayune complaints cherry-picked by the drafters.”

The inspector general’s office, however, defended the investigation, noting that many of the rules governing such interactions are clear, do not make exceptions for small tasks, and that the Pompeos’ requests ultimately added up to use a significant amount of the time of employees paid by taxpayers.

Among the tasks the Pompeos asked staffers to carry out:

  • buying a T-shirt for a friend
  • arranging for flowers to be sent to friends recovering from sickness
  • helping Susan Pompeo book hair salon appointments when she was in New York during the UN General Assembly
  • and, in one instance, asking a senior adviser to the secretary and a senior Foreign Service officer to come in on a weekend “to envelope, address, and mail personal Christmas cards for the Pompeos,” the report states.


As we await the joint press conference between Biden and Suga, here are some fun facts about the Japanese prime minister, courtesy of Takaaki Abe, deputy bureau chief of Nippon Television.

  • According to a very vivid and thorough pool report, the 72-year-old prime minister is a paragon of health and wellness who was born in 1948 to a family of strawberry farmers in rural Akita Prefecture, in the northern part of Japan.
  • Mr Suga has a black belt in Karate.
  • He likes sweets, and doesn’t drink. Speaking of his eating habit, he lost about 30 pounds by going on a morning soup curry diet almost 10 years ago.
  • Mr Suga was the chief cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for almost 8 years from Dec 2012-Sep 2020, and became the longest-serving chief cabinet secretary in the country.
  • He had a famous morning routine, waking up at 5am, doing 100 sit-ups, and going for a 40 min walk.
  • His favorite book is “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” by Colin Powell and Tony Koltz which has become a bestseller in Japan after Mr Suga mentioned that he drew inspiration and guidance from it during his time as chief cabinet secretary.
  • Mr Suga became Japan’s 99th Prime Minister on September 16th, 2020, succeeding Mr Shinzo Abe, who was the longest-serving prime minister in the country.
  • Prime Minister Suga continues his morning walk routine.


Democrats continue to slam Biden’s reversal on his pledge to raise the refugee admissions cap.

“This Biden Administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable,” Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber. “These refugees can wait years for their chance and go through extensive vetting. Thirty-five thousand are ready. Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000. Say it ain’t so, President Joe.”

Though the decision has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats, Stephen Miller, Trump’s former White House senior advisor and anti-immigrant crusader, suggested the move validated the Trump administration’s hardline approach as he gloated that it was a “significant promise broken for Biden.”

Tough day for Biden when his decision on refugees Angers a wide range of allies, from Democrats to religious leaders, and gives Stephen Miller a reason to gloat

— Michelle Hackman (@MHackman) April 16, 2021

A few minutes ago, Biden welcomed Prime Minister Suga in the State Dining Room. In their brief remarks, Biden noted that he was the “first foreign leader to visit me in my presidency.”

“We are two important democracies in the Pacific region,” he added.

Suga said he appreciated being the first foreign leader to meet with Biden, and offered his “condolences for the loss of the mass shooting in Indianapolis.”

“The US-Japan relationship is a cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and the world, and its importance is higher than ever,” he added.

The explicitly nativist appeal by members of Congress to establish a caucus based on respect for “Anglo Saxon” culture has rightly been condemned as racist and dangerous.

But it’s also made some wonder what exactly the group’s founders envisioned when they called for a restoration of “Anglo Saxon” style architecture.

all new buildings must respect our anglo-saxon heritage

— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) April 16, 2021

u must RESPECT Anglo Saxon traditions and architecture

— Astead (@AsteadWesley) April 16, 2021

In all seriousness, the adoption of Trump’s “America First” slogan for their caucus name is an acknowledgement that a not insignificant part of the former president’s support was rooted in whiteness.

You can’t get much clearer than the repeated deployment of “anglo-saxon” here.

— Adam Serwer 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) April 16, 2021

As an aside, Trump was also fixated on architecture. He even signed an executive order stating that the “preferred architecture” style for new buildings should be classical, not brutalist.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has rescinded a Trump-era memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees, tools used by federal prosecutors in investigations of police departments.

The Associated Press reports

Garland issued a new memorandum to all U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department leaders spelling out the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local governments.

The memo comes as the Justice Department shifts its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

In easing restrictions placed on the use of consent decrees, the Justice Department is making it easier for its prosecutors to use the tool to force changes at police departments and other government agencies with widespread abuse and misconduct.

The memo in particular rescinds a previous memo issued by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly before he resigned in November 2018.

Democrats have long argued the ability of the Justice Department’s civil rights division to conduct sweeping probes of police departments had been curtailed under President Donald Trump. The so-called pattern or practice investigations examine whether systemic deficiencies contribute to misconduct or enable it to persist.

“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said.

Donald Trump, his family and supporters hoped their attacks on Hunter Biden would distract Joe Biden rather than convince people not to vote for him, the president’s son said in an interview on Friday, “whether it ended up in some horrible death, or whatever was their intention”.

The author of the memoir Beautiful Things was speaking to the New Abnormal, a Daily Beast podcast. He discussed his struggles with addiction and attempts to find dirt to use against his father which resulted in Donald Trump’s first impeachment.

Host Molly Jong-Fast asked: “Do you think they did it because they wanted you to kill yourself?”

Biden said: “There literally is nothing more important to my dad than his family, and if they could, whether it ended up in some horrible death or whatever was their intention, I think they thought they would be able to distract my dad enough that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the campaign. And they had the exact opposite effect.”

Jong-Fast also asked Biden about his dealings with energy companies in Ukraine and China, the subject of Trump’s attacks

Democrats angry after Biden keeps Trump's cap on refugee admissions

Rounding up some reaction and analysis to Biden’s action today on refugee resettlement.

The Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim notes that Biden’s pledge to raise the cap to 62,500 was already prorated for the 2021 fiscal year, which ends on 30 September.

“An apples-to-apples comparison is that Biden pledged 125,000 refugees and decided to stick with 15,000,” she writes.

One thing to remember is that the 62,500 refugee figure Biden pledged was already a prorated figure for a fiscal year that was half over. An apples-to-apples comparison is that Biden pledged 125,000 refugees and decided to stick with 15,000. Quite the stunning drop.

— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) April 16, 2021

The administration’s determination has angered Democrats, who were particularly appalled by the Trump administration’s treatment of refugees to the United States.

New Jersey senator Bob Menendez assailed the decision.

“The White House has not only stymied the number of refugees permitted entrance into the United States,” he said, “but also it has prevented the Department of State from admitting vetted refugees currently waiting in the system who do not fit into the unprecedentedly narrow refugee categories designated by the Trump administration.”

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the decision “completely and utterly unacceptable”.

Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.

Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.

Keep your promise.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021

The Washington representative Pramila Jayapal went for “simply unacceptable and unconscionable” and said Biden had chosen not to immediately repeal Trump’s “harmful, xenophobic, and racist refugee cap”.

“President Biden has broken his promise to restore our humanity,” she added. “We cannot turn our back on refugees around the world, including hundreds of refugees who have already been cleared for resettlement, have sold their belongings, and are ready to board flights.”


Punchbowl News has gotten their hands on an invitation to join the America First Caucus, led by arch-conservative conspiracists, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman Paul Gosar. According to Punchbowl, they have been recruiting members based on a common respect for “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” as well as an appreciation of infrastructure that “befits the progeny of European architecture.”

NEW In @PunchbowlNews Midday

A new America First Caucus — led by @mtgreenee and @RepGosar — is recruiting people to join based on “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” architectural style that “befits the progeny of European architecture”

Some of the most nativist stuff we’ve seen

— Punchbowl News (@PunchbowlNews) April 16, 2021

According to Punchbowl, the caucus’s immigration platform states: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

It continues: “History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country. While certain economic and financial interest groups benefit immensely from mass immigration, legal as well as illegal, and the aggregate output of the country increases, the reality of large segments of our society [,] as well as the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity being put at unnecessary risk [,] is something our leaders can afford to ignore no longer.”

The language is shockingly nativist, even for two members of Congress who have long records of spreading racist and anti-immigrant sentiment.


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has arrived at the White House, the president’s first in-person visit with a foreign leader since taking office. Biden and Suga will hold a joint press conference later this afternoon.

I’m looking forward to welcoming my friend Prime Minister Suga to the White House this afternoon for the first foreign leader visit of my presidency — and to renewing the historic alliance between the United States and Japan.

— President Biden (@POTUS) April 16, 2021

A heavy metal guitarist and founding member of the Oath Keepers became the first defendant to plead guilty to federal charges related to the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol.

The decision comes exactly 100 days after a mob loyal to Donald Trump stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

According to the Associated Press, Jon Ryan Schaffer “has agreed to cooperate with investigators in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, and the Justice Department will consider putting Schaffer in the federal witness security program.”

Schaffer stands accused of storming the Capitol and spraying police officers with bear spray. He agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges, according to the AP: obstruction of an official proceeding, and entering and remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

The agency writes that the agreement is a sign that federal prosecutors view him as a “valuable cooperator” in their sprawling domestic terrorism investigation.

Biden reportedly signed an emergency determination that will speed up refugee admissions but not raise the historically low cap set by the Trump administration, as he had previously agreed to do.

According to CNN, the administration intends to keep the number at 15,000, reversing an earlier commitment to welcome more than 60,000 people fleeing violence and persecution around the globe.

The new determination adjusts the allocation limits set by Trump to allow more spots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America, per the Associated Press. It also lifts restrictions on refugee resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Both the New York Times and CNN cited the influx of migrants at the border as a reason for the administration’s reluctance to raise the cap. But the reports note that the systems for processing refugees overseas and asylum seekers at the US border are separate, and adjusting one would not necessarily affect the other.

The delay in officially designating the refugee admissions has already left hundreds of refugees cleared to travel to the United State stranded in camps around the world and infuriated resettlement agencies that accused Mr. Biden of breaking an earlier promise to restore the American reputation as a sanctuary for the oppressed,” the Times reports.


Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden said gun violence “pierces the very soul of our nation” in the wake of last night’s mass shooting in Indianapolis. Mourning the eight people killed in the attack, the president said in a statement, “Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act.”
  • Biden will soon meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, marking his first in-person visit with a foreign leader since becoming president. Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Suga moments ago, and she emphasized the US and Japan’s “mutual commitment to the Indo Pacific,” as well as the “importance of peace and prosperity in that region of the world”.
  • The pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will remain in effect for at least another week. At today’s White House coronavirus briefing, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency’s vaccine advisory panel will not meet again to discuss the J&J vaccine until next Friday, meaning the pause will remain in effect at least until then.

My Guardian colleague, Lauren Gambino, will take over the blog for the next few hours. She will have more updates on the news of the day in Washington, so stay tuned.

Joe Biden will likely be asked about the Indianapolis shooting when he holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga later this afternoon.

The president has repeatedly called on the Senate to pass the two background checks bills approved by the House last month, but Democrats likely cannot do so with the filibuster in place.

Some Republicans, namely Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have voiced openness to a more narrow background checks bill than the legislation passed by the House.

But for now, it’s very unclear whether the evenly divided Senate will be able to approve any gun control bills, even as the number of deadly mass shootings in the US continues to rise.

Gun violence ‘pierces the very soul of our nation’, Biden says

Joe Biden has released a statement mourning the deaths of the eight people killed in the Indianapolis mass shooting last night.

The president noted the Indianapolis attack is “just the latest in a string of tragedies,” following recent mass shootings in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Boulder, Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia.

“While we await critical details about the shooting, its motivation, and other key information, once again, I have the solemn duty of ordering the flag lowered at half-staff at the White House, public buildings and grounds, and military posts and embassies, just two weeks after I gave the last such order,” Biden said.

The president expressed his condolences to the families of eight victims, who had to wait hours for the deaths of their loved ones to be confirmed by authorities.

“What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation,” Biden said.

The president once again called on Congress to take action to address gun violence. Last week, Biden also signed a series of executive orders aimed at regulating unregistered firearms and gun accessories that functionally transform pistols into rifles.

“Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act,” Biden said.

“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives.”


Joe Biden will soon make an announcement on refugee caps, the White House press secretary said during her briefing today.

“I expect we’ll have some more news on this today,” Jen Psaki said. “So stay tuned.”

Psaki’s comments come amid reports that Biden has been resistant to raising the refugee caps, which Donald Trump brought to record lows, due to concerns about political optics.

CNN reports:

The President’s hesitation comes as the administration faces heat from Republicans and Democrats for its handling of an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border. But the situation at the US southern border is separate from the refugee program, which dates back decades and has a thorough vetting process in place for refugees overseas to resettle in the US.

One Democratic aide described what is unfolding as ‘vintage Biden’ in terms of preserving his options so that he can maintain decision-making space for the one that best suits him politically.

Democratic lawmakers and advocates, frustrated with the delay, have tried to seek answers from the administration but have fallen short. When asked by reporters about next steps, administration officials haven’t provided clarity, instead maintaining that the President is committed to the issue. Last week, [Psaki] said Biden was committed to raising the refugee ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year but she didn’t provide a timeline.

Harris meets with Japanese PM and addresses Indianapolis shooting

Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga moments ago, ahead of Joe Biden’s meeting with the foreign leader.

“The president and I are very excited about the conversations we will have with the prime minister today,” Harris said, per a pool report.

The vice-president emphasized the US and Japan’s “mutual commitment to the Indo Pacific” and the “importance of peace and prosperity in that region of the world”.

Speaking through a translator, Suga expressed his “sincere gratitude” for the invitation to the White House and stressed the importance of the US-Japanese alliance.

Vice President Kamala Harris talks with Prime Minister of Japan H.E. Suga Yoshihide on the balcony of her office overlooking the West Wing. @VP

— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) April 16, 2021

Harris was also asked about the shooting in Indianapolis, which claimed the lives of eight people.

“Yet again we have families in America that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence,” the vice-president said. “There is no question this violence must end, and we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones.”

Harris noted Biden will soon address the shooting, and the president will also likely be asked about the attack during his joint press conference with Suga later today.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer offered his condolences to the families of the eight victims of the Indianapolis shooting.

“We grieve with the people of Indianapolis. My heart goes out to the families of the 8 people who were killed and to the survivors,” the Democratic leader said on Twitter.

We grieve with the people of Indianapolis. My heart goes out to the families of the 8 people who were killed and to the survivors.

The Senate will act to address this epidemic in America.

I will bring legislation to prevent gun violence to the Senate floor for a vote.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 16, 2021

Schumer also pledged to “bring legislation to prevent gun violence to the Senate floor for a vote” in the wake of the Indianapolis shooting, which comes on the heels of mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.

Joe Biden has called on the Senate to pass the two background checks bills approved by the House last month, but Democrats currently do not have the votes to overcome Republican filibusters of the proposals.

The president is expected to soon release a statement on the Indianapolis shooting, and he will likely reiterate those calls for congressional action.

White House is 'horrified' by Indianapolis shooting, Psaki says

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.

Psaki opened the briefing by commenting on the mass shooting in Indianapolis, which left eight victims dead.

“Like all of you, we’re horrified by the shooting overnight at a FedEx facility,” the press secretary said.

WH Press Sec. Jen Psaki says, "like all of you," the administration is "horrified" by the Indianapolis FedEx facility shooting.

— The Recount (@therecount) April 16, 2021

Psaki noted Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting this morning, and senior White House officials have been in touch with local authorities about the investigation into the shooting.

The president will release a statement on the shooting shortly after a press conference in Indianapolis wraps up, Psaki said.

The press secretary also emphasized the need for Congress to take action to address gun violence. Biden has consistently called for congressional action since the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder last month.

“We can’t give up just because it’s hard, just because the politics are perplexing,” Psaki said.

J&J vaccine pause to last for at least another week

The pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will last at least another week, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated.

Dr Rochelle Walensky said at the White House coronavirus briefing that the CDC vaccine advisory panel will not meet again to discuss the J&J vaccine until next Friday, meaning the pause will remain in effect until then.

The advisory panel met on Wednesday but declined to lift the pause, saying the expert members of the group needed more information on the six reports of blood clots before reaching a decision.

Dr Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, emphasized the reports of blood clots are extremely rare, given that more than 7 million people have received the J&J vaccine.

Senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt again encouraged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to because coronavirus has already claimed more than 550,000 lives in the US.

“Vaccines save lives,” Slavitt said.

Biden administration to invest $1.7 billion to track coronavirus variants

The Biden administration will spend $1.7 billion from the coronavirus relief package to track emerging variants of the virus, the White House has just announced.

The funding will be used to expand genomic sequencing, as well as establish six “centers of excellence” in genomic epidemiology and build a “national bioinformatics infrastructure”.


Today, we are announcing a $1.7 billion investment for the CDC and state and local public health departments to monitor, track, and defeat emerging threats -- whether it’s COVID-19 variants today or other viruses in the future -- through a process known as genomic sequencing.

— White House COVID-19 Response Team (@WHCOVIDResponse) April 16, 2021

In its statement on the new initiative, the White House noted that the original coronavirus now accounts for only about half of cases in the US.

By tracking new and emerging variants, public health officials will be better equipped to monitor outbreaks and direct resources to the most-needed communities.

“Our goal is to get that money out as fast as possible to help states in all the many ways that they need to be able to expand their own sequencing capacity,” Carole Johnson, the White House coronavirus testing coordinator, told NPR.

Johnson also noted that this investment could help prevent future pandemics because the money will allow the US to “continue to transform how public health works to combat outbreaks of all kinds going forward”.

Several prominent lawmakers participated in an NBC News photo essay on the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, which took place 100 days ago.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senator Mitt Romney were among those interviewed for the piece.

I hope that I and others who come to the U.S. Capitol will remember that when we succumb to untruths as a nation, that it can lead to violence and even death as it did on January 6th.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) April 16, 2021

Romney, who nearly collided with the mob on January 6 before being directed a different way by Officer Eugene Goodman, said he hoped his colleagues learned some lessons on that violent day.

“I hope that I and others who come here will remember that when we succumb to untruths as a nation, that it can lead to violence and even death as it did,” the Republican senator said.

The NBC News story, which includes some beautiful photos of the Capitol, can be read here.

Three months after an insurrection at the US capitol, an estimated 50 million Republicans still believe the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, according to a recent national survey. But it’s far from clear how many Americans might still be willing to take violent action in support of that belief.

Early research on the continued risk of violence related to Trump’s “big lie” has produced a wide variety of findings. One political scientist at the University of Chicago estimated, based on a single national survey in March, that the current size of an ongoing “insurrectionist movement” in the US might be as large as 4% of American adults, or about 10 million people.

Other experts on political violence cautioned that survey results about what Americans believe provide virtually no insight on how many of them will ever act on those beliefs. Researchers who have interviewed some of Trump’s most loyal supporters over the past months say that many of them appear to be cooling down – still believing the election was stolen, but not eager to do much about it. The handful of attempts by far-right extremist groups to mobilize nationwide protests after 6 January have mostly fizzled.

“Lots of people talk the talk, but very few walk the walk,” Michael Jensen, a senior researcher who specializes in radicalization at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Start), told the Guardian. “Only a tiny fraction of the people who adhere to radical views will act on them.”

George W Bush penned a Washington Post op-ed on how to approach immigration reform, and the piece includes some of the former president’s artwork.

In the piece, Bush notes he is publishing a new collection of paintings, entitled “Out of Many, One.” (Bush previously published a collection of portraits of American veterans.)

The new book is meant to share portraits of some of America’s immigrants and “humanize the debate on immigration and reform,” Bush said.

The former president writes:

The help and respect historically accorded to new arrivals is one reason so many people still aspire and wait to become Americans. So how is it that in a country more generous to new arrivals than any other, immigration policy is the source of so much rancor and ill will? The short answer is that the issue has been exploited in ways that do little credit to either party. And no proposal on immigration will have credibility without confidence that our laws are carried out consistently and in good faith. ...

One place to start is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Americans who favor a path to citizenship for those brought here as children, known as ‘dreamers,’ are not advocating open borders. They just recognize that young men and women who grew up in the United States, and who never knew any other place as home, are fundamentally American. And they ought not be punished for choices made by their parents.

Another opportunity for agreement is the border. I have long said that we can be both a lawful and a welcoming nation at the same time. We need a secure and efficient border, and we should apply all the necessary resources — manpower, physical barriers, advanced technology, streamlined and efficient ports of entry, and a robust legal immigration system — to assure it.

Bush’s op-ed comes as Republicans have fiercely criticized Joe Biden over his handling of the US-Mexican border, which saw last month the highest number of migrants attempting to enter the country compared to any point in the past 15 years.

Indianapolis shooting: eight killed at FedEx facility

The Guardian’s Jessica Glenza and agencies report:

At least eight people have been shot dead at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis and the suspected gunman has killed himself, police say.

Multiple other people were injured and went to local hospitals, a police spokesperson, Genae Cook, said at an early morning news conference on Friday.

At least four people were admitted to hospital, including one with critical injuries. Two others were treated at the scene and released. No law enforcement officers were injured.

“We’re still trying to ascertain the exact reason and cause for this incident,” Cook said.

“We’re working as quickly as we can,” Indianapolis deputy chief of investigations Craig McCartt said on CBS This Morning on Friday.

“We’re working with families. We have a reunification center right now that’s up and running at a nearby hotel.”

Japan’s ambassador to the US said the meeting between Joe Biden and Yoshihide Suga will focus on the need for a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region.

Ambassador Koji Tomita previewed the visit of the Japanese prime minister by providing some written answers to questions from Voice of America.

“The international order is being challenged in various ways, so we hope to continue having specific discussions on the ways that Japan and the U.S. can take initiative in realizing our shared vision,” Tomita told VOA.

The ambassador noted “the security environment in the [Pacific] region has become increasingly severe.”

He said Japan is committed to maintaining “the peace and prosperity of the entire region,” and China’s growing influence is an important consideration as Japan works toward that goal.

“While China is a growing topic in Washington, D.C., these days, I can assure you that as a country situated nearby, China is always a big presence for Japan,” Tomita added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will also visit Washington next month, the White House announced yesterday.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Moon will likely meet with Joe Biden at some point in the second half of May.

The announcement comes on the heels of defense secretary Lloyd Austin and secretary of state Antony Blinken’s visit to Seoul.

Psaki said Moon’s visit will “highlight the ironclad US-South Korea alliance and the longstanding ties and friendships between the people of our two countries”.

A reporter asked Psaki whether the White House visits of Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were meant to send a signal to China.

The press secretary replied, “I would say these relationships have a range of areas of cooperation. It’s an opportunity to discuss those issues in person, and I would anticipate that China will be a part of the discussions.”

Japanese PM to visit White House in Biden's first visit from foreign leader

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, will visit the White House today, marking Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting with a foreign leader since he became president in January.

The two leaders will participate in an expanded bilateral meeting before taking questions from reporters later in the afternoon.

Joe Biden speaks on the Covid-19 pandemic, and right, Yoshihide Suga attends a press conference in Tokyo.
Joe Biden speaks on the Covid-19 pandemic, and right, Yoshihide Suga attends a press conference in Tokyo. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

A senior administration official said yesterday: “I think the idea of the visit is to underscore what we would really describe as almost an axiom or a maxim for the US role in the region: The United States can only be effective in Asia when the US-Japan relationship is strong and Japan is steady and stable.”

The senior official acknowledged that North Korea and China will be primary topics of conversation between Biden and Suga, although Japan has to walk a fine line where its neighbors are concerned.

“We also recognize the deep economic and commercial ties between Japan and China,” the senior official said. “And Prime Minister Suga wants to walk a careful course, and we respect that.”

The blog will have more details on the visit coming up, so stay tuned.



Abené Clayton, Lauren Gambino and Joan E Greve (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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