Democrats and Republicans at an impasse over US gun control as Biden demands action – live

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Chris Stein

January 6 committee indicts ex-Trump adviser Navarro

Hugo Lowell

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Peter Navarro, a top former White House adviser to Donald Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday on two counts of contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack.

The justice department said in a news release that Navarro was indicted with one count for refusing to appear at a deposition and another for refusing to turn over documents as required by the panel’s subpoena.

Navarro’s indictment, the department said, was unsealed a day after it was returned by a federal grand jury in Washington that acted on a contempt referral made by the House of Representatives after he declined to cooperate with the January 6 inquiry.

The justice department told the Guardian that Navarro is expected to appear before Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui in the US district court for the District of Columbia in the early afternoon on Friday.

Navarro did not respond to a request for comment.

Chris Stein

The process of reporting the news can be exciting, but few American journalists can match the tales of James Risen, a former national security reporter for The New York Times who is now with The Intercept. He has a new story out about how the FBI in 2014 planned to arrest a source he was meeting with in Belgium.

In the convoluted tale, which occurred when he was with the Times, Risen explains how the FBI worried the source would turn over documents that would be even more explosive than those released by Edward Snowden. The meeting ultimately falls apart due to the lies of a lawyer who was talking with both Risen and the FBI.

Risen has had uncommonly high-stakes run-ins with the government, including a standoff with the Obama administration over his refusal to disclose the name of a source, during which the specter of him serving jail time was raised. He also shared a Pulitzer price for revealing the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in 2005.

Chris Stein

Chris Stein

Tim Ryan, the Democratic candidate for the open senate seat in Ohio, has released a new ad attacking his Republican opponent JD Vance for doubting that trade deals undermined the state’s industries, and casting aspersions over his time living in California.

Vance, who won the endorsement of former president Donald Trump and is perhaps best known for authoring the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” triumphed in last month’s crowded Republican primary and will face sitting House representative Ryan in the race for the senate seat held by Rob Portman, a Republican who is not standing for re-election.

Ohio was once seen as a swing state but has increasingly become dominated by the GOP, and The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rates the race as leaning Republican.

Joe Biden said Americans should feel “confident” about the economy, despite high gas prices and inflation, as he blamed Russia for increases “at the pump” and “in the grocery store”.

“There’s no denying that high prices, particularly around gasoline and food, are real problem for people. But there’s every reason for the American people to feel confident that we’ll meet these challenges,” Biden said.

“Because of the enormous progress we’ve made on the economy, the Americans can tackle inflation from a position of strength.”

Joe Biden speaks on Friday.
Joe Biden speaks on Friday. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

Biden was speaking after the latest jobs report showed the US added 390,000 jobs in May. Despite that good news, inflation remains near record highs, while the average price for gasoline hit a new record on Wednesday.

“Both of these challenges have been directly exacerbated by Putin’s war in Ukraine,” Biden said.

This is a Putin price hike. Putin’s war has raised the price of food because Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s major bread baskets, for wheat and corn.”

An increasing number of Democrats running for Senate are promising to ditch the filibuster to pass stricter gun laws, the Washington Post reports, even as Democratic party leadership has backed away from the issue.

Democrats including John Fetterman, the candidate for Pennsylvania, have repeatedly raised the issue in his campaign speeches, as have Rep Val Demings – running against Marco Rubio in Florida – and Rep Tim Ryan, who is running in Ohio.

A number of Democratic candidates in the Wisconsin primary have also called for ending the filibuster. Doing so would give the Democratic party much greater scope to push through gun control laws. But the party has been discussing scrapping the filibuster for months, without any result. The party has repeatedly been thwarted by two of its own members: Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“Party leaders and some Senate incumbents are wary of a fight they’ve already lost over voting rights and abortion, and they aren’t interested in revisiting the filibuster debate, much preferring to keep their energy focused on the Republican opposition to gun-control laws,” the Washington Post reported.

Chris Stein

Chris Stein

New York state is moving to place a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining amid concerns about emissions from the energy intensive processes used to mine bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The state senate on Thursday approved a bill that would put a two-year halt on new permits to use fossil-fuel power plants to mine cryptocurrencies, sending it to the desk of governor Kathy Hochul. As the value of digital assets like bitcoin has surged in recent years, companies have restarted old power plants burning coal and other polluting fuels to run their operations, including in upstate New York. Meanwhile, New York City mayor Eric Adams had his first paycheck converted into bitcoin and ethereum, though he may have ended up regretting that decision since the value of those currencies crashed in recent weeks amid wider stock market turmoil.

New York’s ban was welcomed by environmental law firm Earthjustice, whose New York policy advocate Liz Moran said it showed the state’s commitment to its plan to fight climate change: “With this bill’s passage, the legislature has rightly said fossil fuel power plants can’t get a second life in New York just for private industry gain, which would fly in the face of the state’s climate mandates,” she said in a statement.

Lillian Perlmutter

A new migrant caravan will soon be on its way through Mexico to the southern US border, my colleague Lillian Perlmutter reports from Tapachula, which could become yet another immigration-related headache for Joe Biden:

Liozanys Comeja credits her survival to her teacup chihuahua, Mia. Originally from Venezuela, Comeja moved to Colombia five years ago, but decided to leave her new life behind this month due to the rising cost of living. She crossed the Darien Gap, a notorious stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama, with Mia tucked in her backpack, eventually making her way across eight countries. Now, Comeja is hoping the dog will help her make it through the grueling final leg of their journey.

Comeja has joined about 11,000 others who on Monday will leave Tapachula, a sweltering city on the Mexico-Guatemala border, and head north for the United States. It will depart as leaders from across the hemisphere gather in Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas.

“Whenever I get discouraged, Mia calms me down,” Comeja said. When they arrive at the US border, Comeja plans to cross the Rio Grande on foot.

This is not the first migrant caravan to leave Tapachula, but it may be the largest ever recorded in Mexico: its numbers are expected to swell in the coming days, and may reach 15,000 people – plus Mia the chihuahua.

Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who has frustrated many in his party by thwarting Joe Biden’s agenda, is close to a deal with his party that could provide green energy tax cuts, Axios reported.

Manchin, who has repeatedly voted against measures to tackle the climate crisis, has been in talks over proposals with both Republicans and Democrats.

According to Axios, Manchin has ultimately sided with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and the pair plan to focus on “focus on a potential deal that includes green energy tax credits and the tax increases to pay for them”.

Schumer is hoping to pass a bill which would also cut drug prices. Manchin, who opposed the Build Back Better bill which would have reduced drug costs, raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he claimed: “If we do nothing else this year — I think we can do a lot more — but if we do nothing more this year, that’s the one thing that must be done.”

Chris Stein

Chris Stein

The May employment data released this morning confirmed that robust job growth is continuing in the United States, with the economy adding a better-than-expected 390,000 positions and the unemployment rate remaining at 3.6 percent — a hair above where it was before the pandemic caused tens of millions of people to lose their employment.

Low joblessness can be a major boost to American presidents, and indeed, the data was good news for the White House. But Biden has a bigger problem when it comes to the economy. Inflation has climbed to levels not seen since the 1980s over the past year, and his approval rating has suffered as a result. Biden has dubbed fighting the price increases his “top priority,” but in reality, there’s not much the White House can do about the trend, which is fueled by factors both domestic and foreign.

The Federal Reserve is the most potent inflation fighter in Washington, with its power to set interest rates — but the central bank is independent, and does not answer to Biden. Last month, it made its biggest rate hike in more than two decades and is expected to continue raising rates aggressively throughout this year. The downside to that? There are growing fears that higher rates could end up driving the economy into a recession.

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of political news.

Democrats and Republicans remain at loggerheads over what would amount to acceptable gun control measures, even as Joe Biden demanded action in an impassioned primetime speech on Thursday.

Speaking from the White House, Biden asked: “How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” As he called for the purchase age for “assault weapons” to be raised from 18 to 21, and for a ban on high capacity magazines.

Biden also said red flag laws should be introduced to alert authorities to potential shooters, and background checks expanded.

But the president will be aware that, given the makeup – and mindset – of the House and the Senate, wholesale changes to gun laws are unlikely.

A reminder of this came earlier on Thursday, when a hearing of the House of Representatives judiciary committee, called to discuss raising the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 and making it a federal offense to import, manufacture or possess large-capacity magazines, descended into farce.

Greg Steube, a Republican from Florida who was attending the hearing virtually, held up four handguns in an apparent attempt to signal his opposition to expanded gun control laws.

Jim Jordan, a fellow Republican, did not draw a firearm, but dismissed the measure out of hand.

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of senators is trying to craft a narrow bill, which may focus on boosting school security and possibly enacting a “red flag” law, which would allow authorities to seize guns bought by people suffering from mental illness. But previous efforts at even these milquetoast measures have fallen flat.

  • In other news, the US added 390,000 jobs in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6% for the third straight month, while average hourly earnings were up 5.2% compared to last year.
  • It’s not all good news, however, with inflation continuing to soar. This week Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, described the challenges facing the US economy as akin to an “hurricane”, while on Thursday Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, ordered the company to cut 10% of jobs, citing a “super bad feeling” about the economy.
  • Biden will deliver remarks on the latest jobs report at 10.30am.

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