Day 59 of the Obama Administration - History

Day 59 of the Obama Administration - History


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The President began his day a little later then usual after getting in from California at 1:15 AM He received his daily briefing starting at 10:45. At 12:15 the President met with his senior advisors. At 12:35 The President and the Vice President delivered remarks to the Representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Remarks

The President then went with Governors Schwarzeneffer and Rendell and Mayor Bloomberg.

The President and the First Lady then hosted a recpetion for the National Newspaper Association.

The President taped a message in celebration of Iranian New Year- Nowruz. In that speech he reached out to the Iranian people and proposed a new day in the relations between the US and Iran. Text

The first Lady together with local schoolchildren planted the first vegetable garden in the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt.


President Obama makes a few jokes at the Radio and TV Correspondents' Dinner in Washington.

Afghanistan haunted by ghost of Vietnam

While President Obama's war council deliberates its strategy toward Afghanistan, the ghost of Vietnam is often invoked as a warning.

Is it morning in America, or has hope given way to malaise?

Nearly a year after the presidential election, the excitement of Barack Obama's campaign has faded into the reality of an Obama White House.

Governors races serve as early test for Obama, Democratic control

Even though President Obama is not on the ballot this November, he and the Democrats who control Congress have a lot on the line.

Horse country to Appalachia reined in by recession

Crestwood Farm is tucked into the rolling hillsides of Kentucky's legendary bluegrass country. Kipling and Unbridled Energy are among the stallions critical to the reputation -- and the bottom line -- of the McLean family business.

King: Back to work but still a bit nervous

Corey Essig is happily back on the upside of the recession roller coaster. But his lesson on the tough math of unemployment remains fresh.

Obama cracks jokes

President Obama makes a few jokes at the Radio and TV Correspondents' Dinner in Washington.

Obama hails tobacco bill

Congress sent President Obama legislation to give the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry. Brian Todd reports.

Obama visits France

CNN's Jim Bittermann reports on President Obama's arrival in France where he's participating in D-Day services.

Econ gears 'beginning to turn'

President Obama delivers his weekly address to the nation.

Amanpour: Obama's 100 days of foreign affairs

Judging by the hysterical reaction in some quarters, to President Obama's handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or his bow to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, you would think that America's national security rested solely on body language not sound policy.

Obama reflects on 100 days

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports on President Obama's prime time news conference on his first 100 days.

World views: Nice style, now action needed

A new tone between Venezuelan firebrand President Hugo Chavez and the new man at the helm of what Chavez calls the U.S Empire.

Obama says he doesn't have 'rubber-stamp Senate'

President Obama said Wednesday that he's under no illusions that he'll have a "rubber-stamp Senate" now that Sen. Arlen Specter has switched parties to join the Democrats.

60 seat steamroller?

Democrats are on the verge of having a fililbuster-proof majority in Congress. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

GOP response to president

Rep. Kevin McCarthy reacts to President Obama's call for bipartisanship during the last 100 days.

Is economic confidence rising?

CNN's Bill Schneider breaks down a new CNN poll on the economy and President Obama.

Video: Obama's first 100 days

Why Michelle Obama inspires women around the globe

Heather Ferreira works in the slums of Mumbai, India, where she has watched thousands of women live under a "curse."

National Report Card: First 100 Days

Obama transcript: First 100 days

President Obama spoke at a prime time news conference commemorating his 100th day in office. Here is a transcript of the speech:

Obama takes questions

President Obama takes questions from reporters on torture, Iraq, abortion and more.

Obama report card

CNN's Paul Steinhauser has some post-Obama speech analysis with Nicole Lapin.

Obama: No rubber stamp approval

President Obama says he won't get "rubber stamp" approval from Sen. Arlen Specter and the rest of the senate.

Obama touts progress

President Obama talks about the progress his administration has made at home and abroad.

Budget creates jobs, cuts taxes

President Obama says his budget is helping create jobs and cutting taxes for working families.

Obama warns Americans of flu

President Obama says he is asking all Americans to take precautions to prevent the transmission of the flu virus.

Covering Obama

Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry walks through the president's first 100 days with Nicole Lapin.

Congress approves $3.44 trillion budget resolution

Congress approved a $3.4 trillion budget for the coming year Wednesday, approving most of President Obama's key spending priorities including increasing in health care, education and alternative energy spending.

Pelosi to Republican voters: 'Take back your party'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi marked President Barack Obama's 100th day in office with some unsolicited advice for Republican voters, telling them to "take back" their party.

Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day

On his 100th day in office, President Obama said Wednesday that he was "pleased with the progress we've made but not satisfied."

Obama: Candidate vs. President

More than two years ago, a junior senator with presidential aspirations stood on the steps of Illinois' Old State Capitol in Springfield and warned of politicians who fail to live up to expectations.

Afghan opinions of Obama

CNN's Atia Abawi talks to people in Kabul, Afghanistan about President Obama's first 100 days in office.

Grading the president

The blogger bunch weighs in on President Obama's first 100 days in office.

1,361 days to go in term

Historians point out President Obama still has 1,361 days to go in his term. CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

Obama reflects on 100 days

On his 100th day in office, President Obama talks about where his administration wants to go.

Obama more popular than policies

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett speaks to CNN's John Roberts about President Obama's first 100 days.

Less pessimism on the economy

Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider discusses new polls as President Obama has his 100th day in office.

For a 'Hallmark holiday,' White House going all-out

Behind closed doors in recent days, senior White House aides have been saying that measuring President Obama's first 100 days is the journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday.

Obama: We're keeping promises

On his 100th day in office, President Obama reflects on what has been done and the work that remains.

Americans more optimistic on economy, CNN poll says

Americans are becoming slightly more optimistic about the nation's economy, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey showed Wednesday, but the glow surrounding President Obama is wearing off for some as the president marks his first 100 days in office.

President Obama's promises

How many campaign pledges has President Obama kept or broken? CNN's Josh Levs speaks with PolitiFact's Bill Adair.

Obama's first 100 days in photos

The CNN National Report Card

CNN's Wolf Blitzer has a look at tonight's National Report Card, where you get to grade how the President is performing his job.

The world's evaluation

From locations around the globe, CNN correspondents report on the local perceptions of President Obama's first 100 days.

Obama monitoring swine flu

President Obama says his administration is closely monitoring cases of swine flu.

Specter has 'full support'

President Obama welcomes Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party and says he looks forward to working with him.

Wall Street grades Obama

Investors on Wall Street rate President Obama's first 100 days in office. CNN's Maggie Lake reports.

Chinese students grade Obama

CNN's John Vause talks to students living in China about President Obama's first 100 days in office.

Most give Obama thumbs up on first 100 days, polls say

As President Obama marks his 100th day in office, most recent national polls indicate that more than six in 10 Americans approve of the job he's doing as president.

100 days of Obama

CNN's Richard Roth hosts a Democrat, a Republican and a Frenchman to discuss President Obama's 100 Days in Office.

Thoughts on Obama in West Bank

CNN's Paula Hancocks in Ramallah, West Bank talks with two restaurant owners and a music teacher about President Obama.

British grade Obama

CNN's Don Riddell talks to London residents about President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office.

Russians on Obama

CNN's Matthew Chance talks to Russians about Pres. Barack Obama's first 100 days in office.

Israeli's view of Obama

CNN's Paula Hancocks talk to everyday people in Jerusalem and get their opinion of Obama and how he's doing.

Obama's first 100 days

A look back at an historic first 100 days in office for President Barack Obama.

Sebelius sworn in as Health and Human Services secretary

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in Tuesday night as secretary of Health and Human Services.

Poll: Democrats trail Obama in popularity, but still top GOP

A new national poll indicates that President Obama's popularity is not rubbing off on fellow Democrats.

Obama more popular than policies

CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser looks at the latest poll showing President Obama's popularity is holding.

Analysis: Obama can't expect rubber stamp from Democrats

As President Obama approaches the 100-day mark, he can look back on a short legislative history with near-unanimous support from fellow Democrats.

Obama's Presidency: Day 98

The swine flu virus hitting the United States has the Obama administration on high alert.

More popular than his policies

CNN's Bill Schneider reports on interesting new polls about President Obama.

Obama more popular than his policies, poll shows

A new national poll suggests that President Obama is personally more popular than his policies.

Clinton says U.S. no longer AWOL on climate change

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told representatives of the world's leading economies Monday that the United States is no longer "absent without leave" in the global warming debate.

White House could release more memos on treatment of detainees

As President Obama approaches day 100 of his administration, some in Washington caution that the torture tug-of-war could be a costly distraction.

Swine flu, Obama's role

The Blogger Bunch discusses if President Obama's administration can handle a pandemic.

Bipartisanship didn't last long in Obama's first 100 days

There's little debate that Democrats who run Congress mark President Obama's 100-day milestone with some significant victories.

Flu 'not a cause for alarm'

CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser talks about President Obama's response to the swine flu outbreak.

Obama: Science 'essential'

President Obama talks to the National Academy of Sciences about the importance of science for prosperity.

The making of the 'First 100 Days'

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod has called the 100-day benchmark an "odd custom, the journalistic equivalent of the Hallmark holiday.'' But where did the notion of a president's "First 100 Days" originate?

Official White House photographer gets inside view

It's early April, and President Obama is on his way to France with the nation's top diplomat at his side. As he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton converse in a private room aboard Air Force One, a photographer peers through the half-open door and snaps a candid picture of the formerly bitter campaign rivals.

Flu 'not a cause for alarm'

President Obama says his administration is closely monitoring the outbreak of swine flu.

Leahy wants to probe 'chain of command' on torture

An independent commission is needed to determine who authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, a leading advocate of such a panel said Sunday.

King: Second 100 days will be bigger test for Obama

As introductions go, it has been a fast-paced, fascinating first 100 days: an ambitious domestic agenda aimed at reinvigorating the economy and the government's reach into its workings, and several provocative steps on the world stage that, like at home, signal a clear break from the previous administration.

Obama vs. 'Truth-O-Meter'

President Obama has made some false statements, but no "pants on fire," according to PolitiFact. CNN's Josh Levs reports.

Nuclear power: Making the case

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander makes the case for using nuclear power in his address to the nation.

Credit card outrage

Will President Obama do enough to quell the outrage towards credit card companies? CNN's Jason Carroll reports.

Clinton visits Baghdad

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Baghdad where she will meet with U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Obama on fiscal discipline

President Barack Obama speaks of fiscal discipline in his weekly address to the nation.

Congress after 100 days

Democrats will push through health care reform in 2009, but at the expense of bipartisanship. CNN's Dana Bash reports.

President's first 100 days

CNN's Bill Schneider takes a look at where the notion of a President's First 100 Days originated.

Problems prosecuting torture

What would be the legal paths or obstacles to prosecuting torture? CNN's Brian Todd reports.

Obama: Day 95

The president talks tax credit for college. Holder swears in new AGs.

Schneider: Is Obama the superpresident?

How does President Obama compare with his predecessors after nearly 100 days in office?

Court again rejects lawsuit over alleged Gitmo mistreatment

A lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by four British men formerly held at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was dismissed again Friday by a federal appeals court.

Gibbs gives media an 'A'

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says he gives the media coverage of President Obama an "A."

Obama at 100 days

CNN's Paul Steinhauser previews the president's next prime time address and talks about Sen. John McCain.

The politics of 'torture' heating up in Washington

McCain warns of 'witch hunt'

Sen. John McCain disagrees with any possible prosecutions over the release of Bush-era torture memos.

100 Black Men on Obama's 100

CNN's T.J. Holmes talks with members of 100 Black Men of America to discuss the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

Obama's approval rating high, but will it last?

Nearly two out of three Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, according to an average of the most recent national polls.

Obama's presidency: Day 94

Obama brings the heat to credit card companies, while Holder answers questions about CIA interrogations.

Clinton on Pakistani military

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comments on the Pakistani military.

Obama: Make a habit of empathy

President Obama speaks about confronting hatred.

GOP leader: First 100 days show that bipartisanship idea 'a ruse'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she feels a "spirit of pride" thinking back over the new administration's first 100 days, but House Minority Leader John Boehner said it's become clear to him that the idea of bipartisanship "was a ruse."

Teflon Obama?

CNN contributor Bill Bennett talks to CNN's John Roberts about President Obama's seemingly unscathed image.

Michelle Obama, style icon

CNN's Alina Cho reports on first lady Michelle Obama's role as style icon and how the fashion industry is taking note.

Clinton: Pakistan in danger

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Pakistan is in danger of falling into terrorist hands because of failed government policies and called on Pakistani citizens and expatriates to voice more concern.

Obama announces plan to lease federal waters for clean energy

President Obama marked Earth Day Wednesday by announcing a new initiative to lease federal waters for the purpose of generating electricity from wind and ocean currents.

President's Earth Day trip

Deputy political director Paul Steinhauser discusses President Obama's Earth Day trip to Iowa to promote alternative energy.

Obama's presidency: Day 93

The Obama administration expresses its commitment to clean energy on Earth Day.

Official: Interrogation methods worked, but at too big a cost

Harsher interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects yielded valuable information, President Obama's intelligence director said in a memo, but there is "no way of knowing" if other methods would have done the same thing, he said late Tuesday.


Day 59: Obama Pushes Agenda In California

At his first stop, the president announced $2.4 billion is stimulus funds meant to encourage the production of next generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and advanced battery components for such vehicles.

"Show us that your idea or your company is best-suited to meet America's challenges, and we will give you a chance to prove it," the president said.

Later in the day, at a town hall appearance in Los Angeles with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Obama said improving education takes more than just money.

"you can't just be talking more money, more money without also talking about, how are we going to reform and make the system better," he said, adding that work had to be done to improve teacher performance.

After the town hall, the president taped an appearance on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show."

Check out Chip Reid's CBS Evening News report on the president's day below.


Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.


View Photo Gallery: President Obama is gearing up for what could be a bruising reelection fight.

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

In 2010, the partisan gap between how Obama was viewed by Democrats versus Republicans stood at 68 percent in 2009, it was 65 percent. Both were the highest marks ever for a president’s second and first years in office, respectively.

What do those numbers tell us? Put simply: that the country is hardening along more and more strict partisan lines.

While it’s easy to look at the numbers cited above and conclude that Obama has failed at his mission of bringing the country together, a deeper dig into the numbers in the Gallup poll suggests that the idea of erasing the partisan gap is simply impossible, as political polarization is rising rapidly.

Out of the ten most partisan years in terms of presidential job approval in Gallup data, seven — yes, seven — have come since 2004. Bush had a run between 2004 and 2007 in which the partisan disparity of his job approval was at 70 points or higher.


“Obama’s ratings have been consistently among the most polarized for a president in the last 60 years,” concludes Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones in a memo summing up the results. “That may not be a reflection on Obama himself as much as on the current political environment in the United States, because Obama’s immediate predecessor, Bush, had similarly polarized ratings, particularly in the latter stages of his presidency after the rally in support from the 9/11 terror attacks faded.”

Our guess is that Jones’ latter hypothesis is the right one — that we are simply living in an era in which Democrats dislike a Republican president (and Republicans dislike a Democratic one) even before the commander in chief has taken a single official action.

The realization of that hyper-partisan reality has been slow in coming for Obama. But in recent months, he seems to have turned a rhetorical corner — taking the fight to Republicans (and Republicans in Congress, particularly) and all but daring them to call his bluff.

Democrats will point out that Republicans in Congress have played a significant part in the polarization the congressional GOP has stood resolutely against almost all of Obama’s top priorities. And Obama’s still-high popularity among the Democratic base also exacerbates the gap.

For believers in bipartisanship, the next nine months are going to be tough sledding, as the already-gaping partisan divide between the two parties will only grow as the 2012 election draws nearer. And, if the last decade of Gallup numbers are any indication, there’s little turnaround in sight.

For a rebuttal of our analysis of the Gallup data, make sure to check out this post written by longtime Democratic Senate staffer Jim Manley.

Romney says Gingrich has hurt himself: Trying a new tack in Florida, Mitt Romney said Newt Gingrich’s fall in the polls is his own fault.

“The people of Florida have watched the debates and listened to the speaker and listened to the other candidates and said, ‘You know what? Mitt Romney is the guy we’re going to support,’” Romney said at a rally in Naples.

“I think each of us, if we fail somewhere, if we fail in a debate, if we fail to get the support of people, it’s time to look in the mirror,” Romney said.

Gingrich has complained over the last week about an applause ban at a debate, has accused Romney of lying about his record, and has lashed out at the GOP “establishment,” which he says is out to get him.

NBC asks Romney to pull Brokaw ad: A new Romney ad in Florida uses extensive footage of former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw reporting on Gingrich’s 1997 ethics reprimand, and Brokaw and NBC aren’t happy about it.

“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad,” Brokaw said in a statement. “I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”

The report describes Gingrich’s reprimand by the U.S. House in 1997 for using tax-exempt money for political purposes and giving the House Ethics Committee false information.

Kerrey buying property in Nebraska: Former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) tells The Fix that he is buying property in his former home state of Nebraska, but that it doesn’t mean he will seek a return to the Senate in the Cornhusker State.

Kerrey left Nebraska after retiring from the Senate and at one point flirted with the idea of running for mayor of his new home, New York City, where he headed up the New School university.. That’s something Republicans are likely to use against him if he opts to run for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb.) seat.

But if he does run, Kerrey will have a Nebraska address from which to do it. A senator must live in the state he or she represents.

In response to The Fix’s inquiry, Kerrey confirmed he was buying a place in Nebraska: “Yes, but it really isn’t a signal that we have decided to re- enter politics.”

“Almost all my family is in Nebraska so we need a place to gather when I am back,” he added.

Kerrey is considered the Democrats’ best hope of holding what is arguably their toughest Senate seat to defend.

Gingrich broaches brokered convention: Despite his troubles in Florida, Gingrich says the GOP presidential contest will continue for months and that Romney may not get enough delegates to win outright at the convention.

“When you add the two conservatives together we clearly beat Romney,” Gingrich said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I think Romney’s got a very real challenge trying to get a majority at the convention.”

As our great delegate tracker shows, a candidate needs more than half of the 2,286 available delegates to win the nomination. If no candidate gets that number, the GOP would go to its convention later this year without a defined nominee.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has already aimed to stay in the race for the long haul and build up delegates, but a third candidate would likely need to stay in the race and amass delegates to prevent Romney from getting a majority.

We’ve written before about how this is unlikely.

Santorum leaves trail with daughter hospitalized: Rick Santorum left the campaign trail after his his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, was hospitalized this weekend with pneumonia.

Santorum skipped an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press and campaign events Sunday to tend to Bella, who has a rare genetic disorder and has undergone frequent treatment and multiple surgeries.

In Santorum’s stead, his 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth and the Duggar family, from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” have been traveling around Florida, and Santorum held two teleconferenced events Sunday evening.

Late Sunday, Santorum said Bella had experienced a “miraculous turnaround,” and that he will return to the campaign trail as long as her progress continues. He did not say whether he would return to Florida, where he has struggled to compete with Romney and Gingrich.

A new NBC/Marist College poll confirms Romney has taken a big lead in Florida — 15 points, to be specific. And a Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll confirms the double-digit lead.

Some market analysts say Romney losing the primary would hurt the stock market.

Donald Trump update: He’s still threatening to run.

A little more than a week after endorsing the American people, Herman Cain switches his endorsement to Gingrich. So is he still supporting the American people?

Paul focuses on Maine, whose caucuses will be held in early February.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra leads the Michigan GOP Senate primary 40 percent to 3 percent over businessman Clark Durant, according to a new EPIC/MRA poll. The winner gets Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.) could face trouble in his redrawn congressional district, including a potential rematch of his close 2010 primary.

“Rabbi’s Followers Cast Doubts on Congressman’s Fund-Raising” — Alison Leigh Cowan and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times


U.S. Government To Pay $492 Million To 17 American Indian Tribes

A road through the Gila River Indian Community in 2014. The tribe is one of 17 tribal governments the U.S. government announced Monday it had settled lawsuits with, over alleged mismanagement of land and resources. The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

A road through the Gila River Indian Community in 2014. The tribe is one of 17 tribal governments the U.S. government announced Monday it had settled lawsuits with, over alleged mismanagement of land and resources.

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The U.S. government has agreed to pay a total of $492 million to 17 American Indian tribes for mismanaging natural resources and other tribal assets, according to an attorney who filed most of the suits.

In a joint press release by the Departments of Interior and Justice, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel said, "Settling these long-standing disputes reflects the Obama Administration's continued commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for Indian Country."

The settlements mark the end of a push by the Obama administration to resolve what the U.S. says is more than 100 lawsuits totaling more than $3.3 billion brought by American Indian individuals and tribal governments against the federal government. The policy of reaching settlements on the disputes, some of which date back more than a century, is part of a campaign promise the president made to American Indians before he took office.

"Few have been ignored by Washington as long as Native Americans, the first Americans. Too often, Washington has paid lip-service to working with tribes," then-candidate Obama said in a speech at the Crow Nation Reservation in Montana in May 2008. "My Indian policy starts with honoring the unique government to government relationship, and ensuring treaty responsibilities are met."

Around the Nation

Native Americans To Soon Receive Settlement Checks

Those treaty responsibilities include agreements dating back to the 1800s that made the U.S. government the trustee for huge swaths of tribal land. The Department of the Interior says it manages almost 56 million acres of land on behalf of tribes, and handles at least 100,000 leases on that land for a wide variety of uses including housing, timber harvest, farming, livestock grazing, oil and gas extraction. More than 250 tribes have some assets held in trust by the federal government.

Under those trust agreements, the U.S. government must make sure tribes receive "just compensation" for the use of their land or resources. "The government bought the land from Indians, but it didn't pay the Indians," says Melody McCoy, a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund who has spent 20 years handling lawsuits against the federal government over alleged trust mismanagement and underpayment.

"The U.S. government would say it held the assets in trusts benevolently, for the protection of Indian lands and money," says McCoy, who handled 13 of the 17 newly announced settlements. "The flip side of that is that in exchange, the government was supposed to be a good trustee, and it wasn't. Land was not managed well. Money and resources were not managed well."

The result was decades of allegedly lost income for Native Americans across the country.

Before the Obama administration could turn to the business of settling the 100-plus lawsuits by tribes, it had to resolve a 13-year class-action lawsuit alleging the government failed to pay individual people billions of dollars in profits from land that had been seized from American Indians. A $3.4 billion deal was reached in 2009.

The tribal lawsuits proved more difficult to settle, because they often concerned payments the tribes alleged should have been made over the course of decades. "There were substantial litigation risks and problems to both sides," which drove both sides to the bargaining table, McCoy says. By 2012, the administration had reached settlements with dozens of tribes.

The settlements announced Monday are the second round of agreements. McCoy says that since Obama took office, there have been 95 total settlements with tribes, and that 11 more, some of which she handles, are in active negotiation. "It is quite an accomplishment," she says.

Although most of the 17 settlements are still awaiting final court approval, a handful of documents have been released, naming the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, The Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Gila River Indian Community. The settlements range from $25,000 up to $45 million, says McCoy, who has seen documents for 15 of the 17 settlements announced.


Obama has 'failed to deliver on nuclear disarmament promises'

Obama’s commitment to world without nuclear weapons don’t inoculate him against advocates of nuclear disarmament, writes Sharon Squassoni director Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

Writing for Guardian she says:

They question US plans for a 30-year, $1tn modernisation of the US nuclear arsenal. Against the risks of criticism of his record on arms control and disarmament, President Obama must see ample rewards in the message of reconciliation this visit will produce.

He may be hoping that this visit belies the necessity of apologies as a prerequisite for valuable collaboration. Although the United States has bilateral defense alliances with several countries in the region, no multilateral mechanisms exist in Asia that could facilitate defense cooperation, in contrast to the Nato alliance in Europe.

More importantly, the enormous efforts to integrate Europe politically and economically in the wake of World War II stand in marked contrast to their absence in Asia. While there has been some limited trilateral defense collaboration between Japan, South Korea and the United States in response to North Korean military aggression, this is in its infancy and not immune to political turbulence.

Obama may emphasise that although the US and Japan are important partners both in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, significant progress toward a world without nuclear weapons cannot be achieved in the midst of regional tensions and insecurity. Collaboration is essential to pursue the common goals of peace and security.

Obama is not the first US president to advocate nuclear disarmament, nor is he the first to admit that resolving security issues is vital to the success of the process. By being the first US president to confront the enormity of the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, however, he lends credibility to his intentions and to those of the United States. It will likely be up to the next US administration to follow through on Obama’s good intentions.


Obama urges Americans to work together

"This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive diversity and openness an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together."

Obama's 18-minute inaugural speech touched on the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., education, gay rights, climate change, jobs and the swelling federal budget deficit, but it acknowledged polarizing politics that have divided much of the nation and thwarted problem-solving.

"Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time,'' Obama said.

"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect."

After watching the Inaugural Parade as night fell, Obama addressed cheering crowds at the Commander in Chief Ball and spoke by video to troops in southern Afghanistan. He then introduced his "date," Michelle Obama, who danced with her husband in a ruby chiffon and velvet gown while Jennifer Hudson sang Let's Stay Together.

Earlier, Obama declared in tweets that "our work begins today" and vowed to "finish what we started" before arriving at the Capitol.

Obama adviser David Axelrod told CBS' This Morning that the speech was designed to focus on "values and principles, not so much about programs and prescriptions."

There was a minor blip when Obama was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. In 2009, Roberts flubbed Obama's official swearing-in — prompting Roberts and Obama to repeat the presidential oath in a private ceremony to ensure there were no constitutional issues

On the steps of the Capitol, Roberts got it right Monday, but Obama appeared to stumble over the word "states" as he repeated back the words "the office of president of the United States."

Obama had officially been sworn in for a second term Sunday, in accordance with the Constitution, which requires presidential terms to begin Jan. 20.

President Obama takes the oath of office as his family watches. (Photo: Thomas Brown, Gannett Government Media Corp.)

Thousands began gathering in the dark, chilly predawn hours to see Monday's event, with up to 700,000 expected to flood into the city for his address, parade and other festivities.

They filled street corners and stood in long snaking lines all around the Capitol and surrounding neighborhoods. Blocks from where Obama would be inaugurated, people shuffled down streets, snapping photos before sunrise. Many wore long coats, hats, scarfs, earmuffs and sequined Obama hats.

Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were in attendance, but former president George H. W. Bush, released Monday from a Houston hospital and recuperating from bronchitis, did not attend. Neither did his son, former president George W. Bush.

The Obamas attended a service at 8:45 a.m. at St. John's Church. It included prayers from pastors Joel Hunter and Luis Leon, followed by a blessing by Bishop Vacti McKenzie. "Bless this administration with both favor and grace," McKenzie said. "Give them the resources and people necessary to get the job done."

First daughter Malia was in a playful mood as the family returned to the White House. As the president's limo pulled up, Malia sneaked up to surprise her dad, shouting "Boo!" as he got out. "You scared me!" he told her.

President Barack Obama says we "must act" even if our work is imperfect during his inaugural address.

Around town, police and military authorities were part of a ubiquitous security presence, stretching from downtown to Metro train platforms in suburban Virginia and Maryland.

Coast Guard patrol boats were the only vessels plying the Potomac River. A large stretch of the river, from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, was closed to commercial and recreational users as part of an elaborate inaugural security plan.

Federal and local law enforcement officials reported no arrests throughout the morning. Crowd numbers continued to run well behind the record numbers at the inauguration in 2009.

D.C. Metropolitan Police, FBI and Secret Service officials said security operations had encountered no serious problems through Monday afternoon.

"Things have run pretty smoothly so far,'' Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said.

U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus said there had been some "medical emergencies'' but did not elaborate.

Transit officials said four stations were temporarily closed Monday afternoon because of crowding, causing major delays for people leaving the inauguration. At the L'Enfant Plaza station south of the National Mall, hundreds waited outside in massive bottlenecks as police temporarily barred entry. The line to get into the Judiciary Square station stretched a block, then wrapped around a corner.

Dionne Davis, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, woke at 4 a.m. determined to get as close as she could to the festivities without an official ticket. She watched the last inauguration at home, but decided this time she had to be here.

Davis traveled from a family member's home in Capitol Heights, Md., parked at the Metro and took a long train ride into the city. "I just want to be part of history," Davis said. "I want this to be something I can tell my kids and grandkids."

Briskly walking down 3rd Street at 6:30 a.m., Davis said she was happy to brush shoulders with other people. She's ready for a long day and has supplies to prove it.

"We ate before we left, I took my vitamins, and I got my bottle of water," she said. "I'm just excited. These are experiences that last forever."

"What the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good even as we carry out our individual responsibilities," Obama told supporters during a reception Sunday. "The sense that there's something larger than ourselves that gives shape and meaning to our lives."

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama says enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. But he said the U.S. will defend itself through 'strengths of arms and rule of law.' (Jan. 21)

Obama begins his second term four years after inheriting an economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first Obama administration saw a national health care plan, a major stimulus bill, new financial regulations and an end to combat operations in Iraq, the winding down of the war in Afghanistan and the Navy SEAL raid that killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Obama tangled with congressional Republicans who protested a record-setting rise of the federal debt, a slow-growing economy and a stubbornly high unemployment rate. Republicans still control the U.S. House.

As the president started a new term, throngs of well-wishers were in town.

Before 7 a.m., the Metro station closest to the Capitol building looked and sounded like a baseball stadium. Crowds flocked from trains and up the escalators, where they were greeted by vendors selling pins and posters while volunteers carrying "ask me" signs offered directions and greetings.

Vendors set up folding tables for several blocks along Pennsylvania Avenue behind the Capitol, selling trinkets ranging from Obama pins and T-shirts to knit caps embroidered "Obama: Back 2 Back."

"Good morning, welcome to the inauguration!" a pair of volunteers sang out to the crowd.

DuWanna Thomas, a lawyer and consultant from Atlanta, was on an Orange Line Metro train headed to inauguration festivities by 6:15 a.m. She came to Obama's inauguration four years ago.

"This is very rewarding for me," said Thomas, armed with an Obama blanket and a small backpack with food. "It's just excellent. He's the best president."

Pam Johnson of Floyd, Iowa, was also on a Metro train by 6:15. She voted for President Obama twice and managed to snag a ticket to his second inauguration. "This is an experience of a lifetime for me to be right here, right now," said Johnson, president of the National Corn Growers Association. "When I found out the opportunity to go, I didn't want to miss it."

Thomas Kannam, 8, came with his mom, dad and older sister. It's Kannam's first inauguration. "I want to see the president," Thomas said, holding tightly to a blanket wrapped around his shoulders for warmth.

The New York African American Chamber of Commerce sent two buses with 56 people on each, according to Raquel Sanchez, 41, of New York. They arrived at around 5:45 a.m. Some were unable to put partisan politics aside.

"I hate the divide in the House and in Congress," said Stephanie Simmons, 59. Obama has struggled because Republicans won't work with him, Simmons said, which she said may be "a black-white thing" beyond regular partisan differences.


Obama Made Dark Joke That Trump's Support with Whites Was Like How Some Black People Felt About O.J.: Book

Barack Obama once mordantly quipped that Donald Trump&aposs appeal to white Americans was similar to the way Black Americans showed support for O.J. Simpson during his 1990s murder trial and subsequent acquittal, according to a new book by a former aide.

"Trump is for a lot of white people what O.J.&aposs acquittal was to a lot of Black folks—you know it&aposs wrong, but it feels good," Obama&aposs former speechwriter and national security adviser Ben Rhodes recalls him saying in After the Fall, published this week.

At the time of Simpson&aposs trial in early 1995, about 22 percent of Black Americans believed the former NFL star was guilty of killing wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. That was compared to 63 percent of white Americans who believed he was guilty.

Although in recent years polling shows both Black and white Americans similarly believe Simpson, now 73, is guilty — he was found liable in a civil trial after he was acquitted, though he continues to protest his innocence — the differing opinions at the time of the trial were widely viewed through the lens of the country&aposs racial divide.

Rhodes writes in his new book that Obama, 59, made the comparison between Simpson and Trump, 74, out of a place of "dark humor."

"Trump was a lightning rod," Rhodes writes. "But focusing on him avoided plumbing the depths underneath, the currents that shaped our country. Obama&aposs frustration was more likely to come out in dark humor."

In the years after leaving the White House, Obama made it a point to avoid commenting on Trump throughout his successor&aposs presidency — although reports and books since 2017 have given glimpses about Obama&aposs private thoughts on Trump.

A 2017 PEOPLE cover story revealed that Obama had described Trump to friends as "nothing but a bulls------" after the two spoke on election night in November 2016.

In another instance, Obama told an aide of Trump: "I&aposm clearly renting space inside the guy&aposs head," according to The New York Times.

In 2018, Rhodes wrote in his first post-White House book, The World as It Is, that Trump&aposs election had made Obama question where the U.S. was headed morally and socially.

"Maybe we pushed too far," Obama suggested about his own administration, according to Rhodes. "Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe."

Rhodes expands in his new book on how he says Obama felt, writing, "When he&aposd been president, Obama used a turn of phrase a lot when describing certain offenses, large or specific—widening economic inequality, for instance, or some act of bigotry. This is not who we are, he&aposd say."

"But the fact that someone like Trump could even get close to the most powerful office in the history of the world made plain a reality that didn&apost have to be named in conversation," Rhodes continues, "because it was so painfully obvious, hanging over the legacy of the Obama presidency like some toxic cloud: Maybe this is who we are."

Trump, for his part, built his political profile in part on spreading the racist "birther" lie about Obama.


Obama’s Deficit Dodge

President Obama is falsely claiming that his administration’s policies are responsible for “about 10 percent” of the deficits “over the last four years.” The cumulative deficit during that time is nearly $5.2 trillion. Obama signed two bills — the 2009 stimulus and the 2010 tax cut — that alone cost $1.6 trillion during that time, or nearly a third of the cumulative four-year deficit.

How could he have been so wrong? Although he said “the last four years,” the administration tells us that he was referring to a Treasury analysis of a 10-year period from 2002 to 2011 — which includes all eight years of the Bush administration and excludes the 2012 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30 with a $1.17 trillion deficit.

We’re also told that Obama meant 12 percent, not 10 percent, and that 12 percent figure does not represent a percentage of cumulative deficits ($6 trillion) during those 10 years. It’s 12 percent of $11.9 trillion — which is the difference between the Congressional Budget Office’s rosy 10-year budget projection issued in January 2001 ($5.9 trillion in cumulative surpluses from 2002 to 2011) and what actually happened ($6 trillion in deficits).

The Treasury Department analysis claims that Obama’s polices are responsible for 12 percent of “the changes in deficit projections since January 2001,” but even that figure is too low, as we will explain later.

Obama on Deficits

The federal government will end fiscal year 2012 in a few days (Sept. 30) with a $1.2 trillion deficit — marking the fourth consecutive year of trillion-plus deficits. In a recent 󈬬 Minutes” interview, CBS’ Steve Kroft asked Obama about the sharp increase in the federal debt since he has become president.

Obama, Sept. 23: First of all, Steve, I think it’s important to understand the context here. When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history. And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren’t paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now we took some emergency actions, but that accounts for about 10 percent of this increase in the deficit . . .

Obama stated it differently in a speech two days earlier to the AARP.

Obama, Sept. 21: I think it’s important for folks to know that 90 percent of the debt and deficits that we’re seeing right now are the result of choices that were made over the course of the last decade — two wars that weren’t paid for tax cuts skewed towards the wealthy that were not paid for. So we made some decisions, and then when the Great Recession hit, that meant more money was going out and not as much money was coming in, and that has blown up our deficit and our debt.

Obama’s response leaves the false impression that President George W. Bush and the 2008 recession are responsible for a whopping 90 percent of the deficits in the last four years.

It’s true that Obama “inherited the biggest deficit in our history,” as he said on CBS. By the time Obama took office in January 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had already estimated that increased spending and decreased revenues would result in a $1.2 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009, which began Oct. 1, 2008. In a detailed analysis of fiscal year 2009, we found that Obama was responsible for adding at most $203 billion to the deficit, which in the end topped $1.4 trillion that year.

But that was just the first of four years of trillion-plus deficits. The last three budgets fall squarely under Obama. And, during that time, the federal government ran up deficits of $1.3 trillion in 2010, $1.3 trillion in 2011, and about $1.2 trillion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 — for a total of nearly $5.2 trillion in deficit spending.

Now, affixing responsibility (i.e., blame) for mega-deficits and the ballooning federal debt is filled with ideological landmines. Obama doesn’t take responsibility for war spending, for example, even though he continued the spending and, in fact, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. He also doesn’t want to take the blame for the expense of creating the Medicare prescription drug program — although his federal health care law increased funding for it. (The law will gradually close the notorious doughnut hole that caused some seniors to pay nearly $2,000 in prescription drug costs because of a gap in coverage.)

Regardless of how you assess blame, this much we can say with certainty: Obama’s policies are responsible for more than 10 percent of the deficits accumulated over the last four years.

Consider that just two pieces of legislation he signed account for nearly a third of the $5.2 trillion in deficits since 2009:

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus act, will cost $831 billion through 2019, according to the CBO. The administration estimates the stimulus at $800 billion through 2011.
  • The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended the Bush tax cuts and cut the Social Security payroll tax for two years, as well as provided relief to some taxpayers who otherwise would have had to pay the alternative minimum tax. The 2010 tax act cost nearly $800 billion in 2011 and 2012.

The administration does not take responsibility for all of the spending in the 2010 tax act (which we will detail later). But Treasury accepts that the administration is responsible for another $410 billion in additional tax cuts and spending through 2011.

That means at a minimum the Obama administration is responsible for $2 trillion, or 39 percent of the $5.17 trillion in deficits since fiscal year 2009.

Looking ahead, Obama has promised if reelected to allow the Bush-era income tax cuts to expire for upper-income taxpayers, raising the top two tax rates from 33 percent and 35 percent to 36 percent and 39.6 percent. But he would keep the tax rates at the Bush-era levels for everyone else. Obama’s plan would cost the federal government $3 trillion over 10 years compared with $3.7 trillion if he allowed all of the Bush tax cuts to remain in place.

Treasury on Deficits

When we asked the Obama campaign about the president’s comments on 󈬬 Minutes,” we were referred to a Treasury analysis of federal revenues and outlays from 2002 to 2011. The Treasury analysis is an exercise in fixing blame for how the U.S. ended up with $6 trillion in deficits over the 10-year period instead of amassing $5.9 trillion in surpluses — as originally projected by the CBO in its report “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2002-2011.”

CBO, January 2001: In the absence of significant legislative changes and assuming that the economy follows the path described in this report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the total surplus will reach $281 billion in 2001. Such surpluses are projected to rise in the future, approaching $889 billion in 2011 and accumulating to $5.6 trillion over the 2002-2011 period.

CBO’s assumptions did not factor in two recessions (2001, 2008), two wars and a slew of legislative changes from the Bush tax cuts to the Obama stimulus.

The difference between the projected surpluses and the actual deficits is $11.9 trillion over that 10-year period. Treasury concluded that Bush policies were to blame for 59 percent and Obama’s policies 12 percent. The rest — 29 percent — were what CBO calls “economic and technical changes,” mostly having to do with changing economic forecasts because of the recessions.

Treasury’s analysis was done by reviewing 36 CBO reports issued over the last 12 years: the biannual Budget and Economic Outlook and the CBO’s annual analysis of the president’s budget. Treasury accounted for the changes in CBO’s revenue and outlay projections during that time period to determine how far the original 2001 CBO projections had deviated and where the deviations had occurred.

But even Treasury’s 12 percent figure is misleading given that Obama was talking about deficits “over the last four years” (CBS interview) and “deficits that we’re seeing right now” (AARP speech).

Here are some examples of what the Treasury report includes — and excludes:

  • Deficit spending: It covers deficit spending only through 2011, ignoring the $1.17 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2012 that is about to close.
  • Bush tax cuts: Treasury estimates the Bush tax cuts, plus interest, cost $3 trillion through 2011. All of that is assigned to Bush. However, Obama supported several of the Bush tax cut provisions, and he has continued those policies and even expanded them. Bush doubled the Child Tax Credit from $500 to $1,000 through 2009 Obama campaigned to make it permanent and, as president, extended it to 2012. Bush expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit Obama expanded it again in 2009 and extended it for 2010 through 2012. The Bush tax cuts patched the alternative minimum tax, and so did Obama’s stimulus and 2010 tax law. Bush raised the standard deduction for couples to provide relief from the so-called “marriage penalty” candidate Obama promised to make it permanent and extended the tax relief in 2010 through 2012.
  • Obama tax cut: The 2010 tax cut legislation signed into law by Obama cost $797 billion, but Treasury assigns only $250 billion of that cost to Obama. Why? It excludes the cost of the legislation for fiscal year 2012 ($422.9 billion) because, as we said, the analysis only goes through 2011. In addition, Treasury assigned a portion of the 2011 cost to Bush — specifically $142 billion in tax cuts for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 — on the grounds that Obama opposed extending the tax cuts for the wealthy, even though he signed the legislation into law.
  • Defense: Treasury assigns the entire cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — $1.4 trillion, including interest, through 2011 — to Bush. The Obama administration was authorized to spend $160 billion in 2010 (Table 1-4, “Defense-war related”) and $159 billion in 2011 (Table 4, “Overseas contingency operations”) on the two wars — each more than the $140 billion that was authorized in 2009, which was Bush’s last budget. Obama significantly increased troop levels in Afghanistan in both years. CBO says budget authority for the Afghanistan war jumped from $38 billion in 2009 to $87 billion in 2010 and $98 billion in 2011. Obama requested $115 billion for both wars in 2012. The cost from 2010 to 2012 is more than $400 billion, excluding interest.

Josh Gordon, policy director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates for “responsible fiscal policy,” notes the president wants to exclude spending on continuing Bush-era tax and war policies. “The problem is those pieces of legislation had his signatures,” he added.

CBO and the nonpartisan Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative each did their own postmortem analyses of what happened from 2002 to 2011. Without apportioning blame, both reports found the accumulation of legislation changes — tax cuts, war spending and stimulus measures under both presidents — was the “main driver,” as Pew put it.

Pew, April 2011: Fiscal projections a decade out, even by the best analysts, are inherently imperfect, and this fact sheet shows that forecasting uncertainty explains a meaningful part of the revisions to CBO’s debt projections. However, the main driver of the difference between the January 2001 projection and the reality a decade later has been legislative changes.

There is no disputing, of course, that President George W. Bush was president for nearly eight of those 10 fiscal years and holds more responsibility for them than Obama.

But Obama bears more responsibility than he is willing to accept, and misrepresents the Treasury analysis to minimize his responsibility.

The finger-pointing also does not advance the debate over how to solve what everyone recognizes is a huge problem for the next president and Congress.

“This whole debate really is missing the point,” Gordon said. “The point is where do we go forward from where we are, and who has a plan to reduce the deficits over the long term.”

Q: Can employers, colleges and universities require COVID-19 vaccinations?


The Magnitsky Flip-Flop

In 2009, after the death of an imprisoned Russian lawyer, American hedge fund manager Bill Browder began pushing Congress to sanction Moscow for alleged human rights violations. Lawmakers from both parties quickly signed onto the legislation. But it faced strong opposition from an unexpected source: the Obama administration.

Today, the White House argues that sanctions are the only way of punishing Russia over Ukraine. Two years ago, by contrast, the administration tried to stop the Magnitsky Act — named after the dead lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky — in its tracks for fears that it would derail its efforts to "reset" relations with Moscow. The tortured history of the legislation underscores the administration’s conflicting impulses when it comes to Russia and its ongoing struggle to decide if Russia is a rival asserting its power or an adversary actively seeking a confrontation with the West.

That debate has taken center stage in recent weeks because of Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its role in stirring up unrest in eastern Ukraine. But this time the Obama administration is heralding the benefits of freezing the assets of people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a way of pressuring him to de-escalate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. So far, the U.S. has sanctioned 45 people and 19 entities, including four banks.

But in 2010, when Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin introduced the bill that Browder championed, the Obama administration balked. Magnitsky, an auditor with law firm Firestone Duncan, had worked for Browder’s firm, Hermitage Capital Management. He was imprisoned in 2008 after alleging that top Russian officials had effectively stolen $230 million from the government. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 at age 37 after becoming ill and being denied medical care. Russian officials said he suffered a fatal heart attack, though they provided no evidence to support that contention.

Browder wanted the U.S. to go after the Russian officials responsible for Magnitsky’s death, but his timing was terrible. The bill began gaining steam in 2011, just as the administration was focused on normalizing trade relations with Russia ahead of its scheduled entrance into the World Trade Organization the following year. Officials from the State Department, Treasury Department, and President Barack Obama’s National Security Council fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby against the bill and argue that the administration already had enough power to impose sanctions on Russia.

"The administration, starting with Hillary Clinton and then John Kerry, did everything they could do to stop the Magnitsky act," Browder said in an interview.

In early 2012, the Magnitsky Act got a surprising boost. The administration wanted to win congressional support for repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, a Soviet-era law that denied Russia normal trade relations with the U.S. If the 1974 law remained on the books, U.S. companies who wanted to sell goods to Russia would face higher tariffs, putting them at a disadvantage to other international companies. Powerful lawmakers signaled they’d only support the repeal if the Magnitsky Act was signed into law. The two provisions were lumped together and approved by the House and the Senate in December 2012. Obama signed them into law almost immediately.

The administration added 18 names, mostly mid-level officials, to the Magnitsky list in April 2013, but supporters of the law want the administration to do more in light of Russia’s actions not only at home, but also in Ukraine. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to the administration in January asking the State and Treasury departments to "clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list."

Under the law, congressional leaders can suggest names to the administration and it must respond within 120 days. The deadline for the administration to respond to the senators’ January 17 letter is this Saturday. It is unclear whether the administration will add more names to the list or wait to see whether Russia tries to interfere with the Ukrainian elections on May 25, a move that U.S. and European officials have said would trigger further sanctions.

"While we can’t speak to the timing of any additional designations, we continue to investigate potential targets, and the administration is determined to fully implement the Act by making further designations as appropriate," Laura Lucas Magnuson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in an email.

In some ways, the administration has already gone beyond the Magnitsky list with the current Ukraine sanctions. Obama has said that the U.S. is prepared to ban business with whole sectors of the Russian economy if Moscow continues to foment unrest in Ukraine. Still, advocates of the Magnitsky list say it’s important because it condemns the Russian government’s actions against its own people, not just those of neighboring countries.

"While the world is naturally focused on Ukraine, it’s crucial to send the signal that the world has not forgotten about the human rights of Russians," said Vladimir Kara-Murza, a leading member of the People’s Freedom Party, a Russian opposition group.

Others worry that adding more names to the list would bring swift and harsh retaliation. After the U.S. passed the law in 2012, Moscow responded by banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American citizens.

"This was a sign of how far the Russian government is willing to go to hurt it’s own people to make a political point," said Jeff Goldstein, a senior policy analyst with the Open Society Foundations.

In 2009, after the death of an imprisoned Russian lawyer, American hedge fund manager Bill Browder began pushing Congress to sanction Moscow for alleged human rights violations. Lawmakers from both parties quickly signed onto the legislation. But it faced strong opposition from an unexpected source: the Obama administration.

Today, the White House argues that sanctions are the only way of punishing Russia over Ukraine. Two years ago, by contrast, the administration tried to stop the Magnitsky Act — named after the dead lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky — in its tracks for fears that it would derail its efforts to "reset" relations with Moscow. The tortured history of the legislation underscores the administration’s conflicting impulses when it comes to Russia and its ongoing struggle to decide if Russia is a rival asserting its power or an adversary actively seeking a confrontation with the West.

That debate has taken center stage in recent weeks because of Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its role in stirring up unrest in eastern Ukraine. But this time the Obama administration is heralding the benefits of freezing the assets of people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a way of pressuring him to de-escalate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. So far, the U.S. has sanctioned 45 people and 19 entities, including four banks.

But in 2010, when Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin introduced the bill that Browder championed, the Obama administration balked. Magnitsky, an auditor with law firm Firestone Duncan, had worked for Browder’s firm, Hermitage Capital Management. He was imprisoned in 2008 after alleging that top Russian officials had effectively stolen $230 million from the government. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 at age 37 after becoming ill and being denied medical care. Russian officials said he suffered a fatal heart attack, though they provided no evidence to support that contention.

Browder wanted the U.S. to go after the Russian officials responsible for Magnitsky’s death, but his timing was terrible. The bill began gaining steam in 2011, just as the administration was focused on normalizing trade relations with Russia ahead of its scheduled entrance into the World Trade Organization the following year. Officials from the State Department, Treasury Department, and President Barack Obama’s National Security Council fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby against the bill and argue that the administration already had enough power to impose sanctions on Russia.

"The administration, starting with Hillary Clinton and then John Kerry, did everything they could do to stop the Magnitsky act," Browder said in an interview.

In early 2012, the Magnitsky Act got a surprising boost. The administration wanted to win congressional support for repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, a Soviet-era law that denied Russia normal trade relations with the U.S. If the 1974 law remained on the books, U.S. companies who wanted to sell goods to Russia would face higher tariffs, putting them at a disadvantage to other international companies. Powerful lawmakers signaled they’d only support the repeal if the Magnitsky Act was signed into law. The two provisions were lumped together and approved by the House and the Senate in December 2012. Obama signed them into law almost immediately.

The administration added 18 names, mostly mid-level officials, to the Magnitsky list in April 2013, but supporters of the law want the administration to do more in light of Russia’s actions not only at home, but also in Ukraine. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to the administration in January asking the State and Treasury departments to "clarify when we can expect additional names to be added to the Magnitsky list."

Under the law, congressional leaders can suggest names to the administration and it must respond within 120 days. The deadline for the administration to respond to the senators’ January 17 letter is this Saturday. It is unclear whether the administration will add more names to the list or wait to see whether Russia tries to interfere with the Ukrainian elections on May 25, a move that U.S. and European officials have said would trigger further sanctions.

"While we can’t speak to the timing of any additional designations, we continue to investigate potential targets, and the administration is determined to fully implement the Act by making further designations as appropriate," Laura Lucas Magnuson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in an email.

In some ways, the administration has already gone beyond the Magnitsky list with the current Ukraine sanctions. Obama has said that the U.S. is prepared to ban business with whole sectors of the Russian economy if Moscow continues to foment unrest in Ukraine. Still, advocates of the Magnitsky list say it’s important because it condemns the Russian government’s actions against its own people, not just those of neighboring countries.

"While the world is naturally focused on Ukraine, it’s crucial to send the signal that the world has not forgotten about the human rights of Russians," said Vladimir Kara-Murza, a leading member of the People’s Freedom Party, a Russian opposition group.

Others worry that adding more names to the list would bring swift and harsh retaliation. After the U.S. passed the law in 2012, Moscow responded by banning the adoption of Russian orphans by American citizens.

"This was a sign of how far the Russian government is willing to go to hurt it’s own people to make a political point," said Jeff Goldstein, a senior policy analyst with the Open Society Foundations.



Comments:

  1. Leyati

    This version has expired

  2. Arnatt

    As a matter of fact, I thought so, that's what everyone is talking about. Hmm it should be like this

  3. Cillian

    Well, little by little.



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