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Friday, March 24, 2023

The ‘beginning’ of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is here: The Note

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The TAKE with Averi Harper

The will he, won’t he question surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin and potential invasion of Ukraine is a thing of the past, according to President Joe Biden.

“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said in sobering remarks from the White House on Tuesday.

In his speech, Biden announced that additional troops would be sent to Eastern Europe and that sanctions targeting Russian banks, sovereign debt and oligarchs with connections to the Kremlin would go into effect.

The announcement came as Germany halted certification of Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline between Germany and Russia. The European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada have also issued sanctions in response to Russia’s actions.

“Who, in the Lord’s name, does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?” Biden said. “This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.”

In an indication that the door to diplomacy has slammed shut, at least for now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he would no longer meet with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Blinken warned that even more sanctions could be coming.

“Any further escalatory steps by Russia will be met with further swift and severe measures, coordinated with allies and partners,” Blinken told reporters.

One Biden administration official left open the possibility of sanctioning Putin himself when asked by ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl. The official said “all options remain on the table.”

What remains to be seen is if these sanctions will be effective in deterring further Russian aggression.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

Amid evolving global tensions, President Joe Biden continues to weigh a major domestic priority — his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, the president said he was considering “about four” candidates to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, after publicly promising his pick would be a Black woman.

As reported by ABC News’ Devin Dwyer and Rachel Scott, a person familiar with the process confirmed Biden has begun interviews with candidates on his short list for potential nomination and has interviewed at least three women for the role.

A source closely involved with the selection and planned announcement of the president’s pick also said the process remains on track and is likely to come this week, even as the president’s schedule remains dominated by the situation unfolding between Russia and Ukraine.

So far, the White House has only publicly confirmed U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs as being under formal consideration. Childs is endorsed by House Majority Whip James Clyburn. As previously reported by ABC News, Federal Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger are also under consideration, according to sources.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that the timeline set by the White House to make the announcement by the end of the month is coming up, but she declined to reveal additional details.

“The president has not made a decision about who he’s going to nominate,” Psaki told reporters.

The TIP with Lalee Ibssa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is being tapped to deliver the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week, a position often awarded to the party’s rising star.

“While Washington Democrats fail working Americans, Republican governors are fighting and winning for families,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in the announcement statement. “Gov. Kim Reynolds’ brave, bold and successful leadership for Iowans has put her right at the front of that pack.”

The honor comes as Reynolds was thrust into the national spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic for her opposition to mandates and for requiring schools to reopen for in-person learning.

Reynolds, the first female governor of Iowa, received praise from Republican leadership for her policies they say puts “freedom over lockdowns.” She also received ovation from her party for banning schools from teaching “divisive topics” such as systemic racism or sexism.

Reynolds’ policies signal the type of legislative priorities Republicans hope to run on ahead of this year’s crucial midterm election.

Next week’s address will not only provide a national platform for Reynolds, who is up for re-election this year, but it’s also an opportunity for Republicans to highlight these campaign promises as they fight to win back control of Congress.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

53. That’s the percentage of white Democrats who said they felt optimistic about where the United States is headed in a recent survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life. That is a much smaller share than Black Democrats (68%) or Hispanic Democrats (62%) who said the same. Read more from FiveThirtyEight contributor Dan Cox on why white liberals are pessimistic about politics.


ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Start Here begins Wednesday morning with ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis on the global economic impact of the Ukraine conflict. Then, ABC News Legal Contributor Channa Lloyd discusses the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes trial. And, ESPN’s Julie Foudy breaks down the U.S. national women’s soccer team’s equal pay settlement. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators meeting at 5:10 p.m.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.


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