US forges security partnership with UK and Australia to counter China – as it happened

a month ago

US forges security partnership with UK and Australia to counter China – as it happened

The Guardian

Summary

  • Biden joined the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, and British prime minister, Boris Johnson, for a rare joint virtual address to announce a new global security partnership between the three nations. It will make it easier for the countries to share information and technology and counter China, including by helping Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines.
  • Joe Biden said he still has “great confidence” in Gen Mark Milley, amid Republican criticism of the general’s actions in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency. According to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff took steps to prevent Trump from starting a nuclear war or launching an attack on China during his final days in office. Asked about Republican calls for Milley’s resignation, press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I don’t think the president is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while the president of the United States and the leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent.”
  • Biden congratulated California governor Gavin Newsom on easily defeating an effort to remove him from office. With about 70% of ballots from yesterday’s election counted, only 36% of California voters supported recalling Newsom, well short of the 50% needed to remove the governor from his post. Biden said of Newsom’s victory, “This vote is a resounding win for the approach he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely and strong plans to distribute real medicines - not fake treatments - to help those who get sick.”
  • Celebrated gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman testified before the Senate judiciary committee on the FBI’s failings to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar. Getting emotional while delivering her opening statement, Biles told members of the committee, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
  • Kamala Harris and treasury secretary Janet Yellen held an event to underscore the urgent need to expand affordable childcare options in the US. The event came as the treasury department released a report showing that childcare providers remain too expensive for average American families and fail to adequately compensate their workers. “We must do better,” Harris said.

- Maanvi Singh and Joan E Greve

Updated

Nearly all Fox staffers vaccinated for Covid even as hosts cast doubt on vaccine

Samira Sadeque reports from New York:

The vast majority of employees at Fox Corporation, the umbrella company for the conservative Fox News channel, are vaccinated against coronavirus and those who are not will be required to do daily testing, according to a memo sent out from bosses – despite some of its biggest screen stars questioning the vaccine.

A daily test is stricter than the Biden administration’s firm mandate that businesses with more than 100 employees must require either vaccination or weekly testing.

The news came as Joe Biden was scheduled to meet with business leaders on Wednesday, including from Disney and Microsoft, to urge vaccine mandates for employees across US businesses.

Such mandates, which have earned the president both praise and flak since he announced them last week, are expected to cover 80 million workers at large firms along with 17 million healthcare professionals across the country.

In the memo, which was sent out on Tuesday to Fox Corporation employees, Kevin Lord, the company’s executive vice-president, announced that more than 90% of the company’s full-time employees had been vaccinated, CNN first reported on Tuesday night.

The information was uploaded on a secure system where employees could share their vaccination status, the memo said.

Read more:

Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy is taking shape, and the early moves are hardly very surprising: a tripartite defence alliance with the US and Australia – handily compressed to Aukus – clearly designed to send a message to Beijing.

The three start work by sharing with Canberra what is ultimately an American technology: supplying nuclear reactors to power submarines with the likely assistance of Britain’s Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, a relationship that may also allow the Australians to ditch a troubled but lucrative A$90bn (£48bn) diesel engine agreement with a French contractor.

Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines will not be nuclear-armed, and the country has no desire to be a nuclear power. But there are questions as to how precisely the enriched uranium required will be supplied and how the reactors will be decommissioned – or to put it another way, what will be done in Australia, the UK or the US. The three will spend the next 18 months trying to work it out.

In theory, it would have been perfectly possible for the US to work directly with their Australian counterparts on the sensitive technology transfer (a development so rare that it has only happened once before in history, when the US helped Britain start its own nuclear submarine programme in late 1958).

But as a senior White House official revealed, it was the UK that wanted this the most. “Great Britain has been a very strong strategic leader in this effort,” said one, speaking ahead of the announcement, helping “mediate and engage on all the critical issues” as the partnership was being thrashed out.

It is a vital endorsement after a tricky summer in which Anglo-American relations have been far from smooth during the Afghanistan crisis. British generals and ministers made little secret that they disagreed with Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from the country, effectively handing it over to the Taliban.

There was a lack of understanding of the tactical intentions of the White House. British sources complained it was unclear when the US would pull out of Kabul airport, and Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, a survivor of Wednesday’s reshuffle, even appeared to question if the US had the will to be a superpower any longer.

Now at least, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, can head over the US for the UN general assembly, and his first White House meeting with Joe Biden, with something else to talk about.

Read more:

Opinion: Republicans overplayed their hand in California – and Democrats are laughing

Lloyd Green writes:

On Tuesday, Gavin Newsom, California’s embattled governor, convincingly beat back a Republican-driven recall effort. Once projected to be a nail-biter, the contest degenerated into a nearly 30-point blowout. Indeed, Newsom may have even outpaced Joe Biden’s 2020 margin in California.

Ten months later, Donald Trump’s name was no longer on the ballot, but his spirit still lingered. Before the polls had closed, the former president was carrying on about the recall being rigged. Meanwhile, Larry Elder, Newsom’s leading Republican opponent and a rightwing radio host, had tentatively planned a post-election legal challenge.

In the end, the threat of Elder in the governor’s mansion galvanized Democrats. To put things in context, Elder, who is black, has argued for reparations for slave owners. Let that sink in.

On 18 July, on the Candace Owens Show, Elder opined: “Their legal property was taken away from them after the civil war, so you could make an argument that the people that are owed reparations are not only just Black people but also the people whose ‘property’ was taken away after the end of the civil war.”

As framed by John J Pitney, the Roy P Crocker professor of politics at California’s Claremont McKenna College, “in a heavily Democratic state Newsom was probably going to survive anyway”. But Elder “helped him turn surviving into a triumph”, Pitney told the Guardian. Elder was a gift to the governor.

To be sure, it wasn’t just about Elder. More than 60% of Californians hold an unfavorable view of the Republican party, seven in 10 support mask mandates for students, and more than three-fifths categorized vaccination as a public health responsibility rather than a personal choice. The ethos of what could be called “live free and die” had a limited number of takers.

Meanwhile, talk of a foregone electoral outcome led Republicans and conservatives to stay home. Apparently, the 45th president and his minions forgot about how that same gambit cost them both of Georgia’s Senate seats in last January’s runoff elections. Sometimes, history repeats itself.

Read more:

The formation of Aukus comes at a time of rising tensions, especially over the South China Sea and Taiwan. A new book about the last weeks of the Donald Trump administration said that in late 2020 the US became concerned that China was increasingly convinced it would be the target of a pre-emptive attack.

According to Peril, by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley called his Chinese counterpart, Gen Li Zuocheng, twice to reassure him that no attack would happen, and that Milley would personally give a warning if Trump issued such an order.

In July, the UK’s new aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, arrived in the South China Sea, the focal point of US-Chinese tensions, triggering denunciations from Beijing. The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, welcomed the deployment at the time but wondered “are there areas that the UK can be more helpful in other parts of the world”.

A senior US official suggested that the UK government had pushed for a heightened role in the region.

“Great Britain is very focused on the concept of global Britain, and their tilt is about engaging much more deeply with the Indo-Pacific and this is a down payment on that effort,” the official said.

Before now, the US has only shared nuclear propulsion technology with the UK, in an arrangement dating back to the 1958, but a senior US official said “This is a unique set of circumstances.”

Nuclear power will allow Australian attack submarines to remain at sea for as long as five months and operate more quietly than the country’s existing Collins class diesel powered vessels, allowing them to better evade enemy detection.

Senior US officials briefing reporters before the announcement did not mention China, preferring to speak generally about “sustaining and improving deterrence”, but left little doubt which power Aukus was supposed to deter. British officials used similar language, arguing the deal was “not about one country”.

Biden announces new global security partnership with UK and Australia

Biden joined the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, and British prime minister, Boris Johnson, for a rare joint virtual address to announce the partnership. It will make it easier for the countries to share information and technology and counter China, including by helping Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines.

Read more about it here:

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden said he still has “great confidence” in Gen Mark Milley, amid Republican criticism of the general’s actions in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency. According to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff took steps to prevent Trump from starting a nuclear war or launching an attack on China during his final days in office. Asked about Republican calls for Milley’s resignation, press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I don’t think the president is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while the president of the United States and the leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent.”
  • Biden congratulated California governor Gavin Newsom on easily defeating an effort to remove him from office. With about 70% of ballots from yesterday’s election counted, only 36% of California voters supported recalling Newsom, well short of the 50% needed to remove the governor from his post. Biden said of Newsom’s victory, “This vote is a resounding win for the approach he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely and strong plans to distribute real medicines - not fake treatments - to help those who get sick.”
  • Celebrated gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman testified before the Senate judiciary committee on the FBI’s failings to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar. Getting emotional while delivering her opening statement, Biles told members of the committee, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
  • Kamala Harris and treasury secretary Janet Yellen held an event to underscore the urgent need to expand affordable childcare options in the US. The event came as the treasury department released a report showing that childcare providers remain too expensive for average American families and fail to adequately compensate their workers. “We must do better,” Harris said.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Vice-President Kamala Harris argued that investing in affordable childcare was absolutely necessary to help women re-enter the workforce, after millions of women left their jobs during the pandemic because of caretaking responsibilities.

“Not long after President Joe Biden and I took office, I called the mass exodus of women from the workforce a national emergency. Because that’s what it is: a national emergency,” Harris said at the treasury department.

“If we intend to fully recover from the pandemic, if we intend to fully compete on a global scale, we must ensure the full participation of women in the workforce.”

Harris said the treasury department’s new report provided the latest evidence that childcare is “too expensive and out of reach for far too many working families in our country”.

“We must do better,” Harris said. “By expanding childcare options and lowering childcare costs, we will give working people everywhere the support they need to dream, to do, and to determine their own future.”

Updated

Harris and Yellen underscore urgent need to invest in affordable childcare

Kamala Harris and treasury secretary Janet Yellen are holding an event at the treasury department to underscore the need to expand access to affordable childcare in the US.

The event is meant to bring attention to the treasury department’s new report on the state of American childcare, which found that current childcare options are too expensive for average families and fail to adequately compensate workers.

Yellen, who is the first woman to lead the treasury department, said that her own career was made possible through her access to reliable childcare.

“The lack of childcare leads so many parents, mostly mothers, to drop out of the workforce,” Yellen said. “Indeed looking back, I’m not sure whether I would be here in this job today if I didn’t have an excellent babysitter 40 years ago.”

Joe Biden has called for expanding affordable childcare options through Democrats’ $3.5tn reconciliation bill, which is currently making its way through Congress.

Users of far-right online platforms appear to have waning interest in this Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally, which is being held in support of the insurrectionists who carried out the January attack on the Capitol.

NBC News reports:

Users in extreme far-right Facebook groups and extremist forums such as TheDonald and 4chan, which previously hosted pictures of users streaming into Washington hotel rooms and even maps of the Capitol tunnel system in the days before the Jan. 6 riot, are largely steering users away from the upcoming event.

Those posting on these forums say they largely believe the event to be a setup for a ‘false flag’ event or ‘honeypot,’ in which they’ll be entrapped and coerced to commit violence by federal agents.

The shift offers a window into how the dynamics among some of the most active and extremist online forums have changed in the aftermath of Jan. 6, which has led to hundreds of arrests. Paranoia drives many conversations, and it appears to be inhibiting some extremists’ ability to organize on the open web.

A senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said yesterday that the agency expects around 700 people to come to Washington for the rally on Saturday.

In comparison, tens of thousands of people came to DC to participate in the January 6 rally that culminated in the deadly insurrection.

Even with those encouraging signs, the US Capitol police have approved a wide range of increased security measures around the Capitol, including reinstalling the fencing around the building.

Updated

California governor Gavin Newsom’s victory in the recall election secures his ability to run for re-election in 2022, potentially warding off any major challengers, and preserves his place as a national political figure.

“Now he wins this, he wins again in 2022 and now we’re all on to 2024 and beyond and he becomes a viable presidential candidate,” said Jack Citrin, a political science professor at UC Berkeley. “Every crisis is also an opportunity.”

Having survived the recall, Newsom will serve one more year before he is up for re-election. “If he had survived by a small margin, it is very likely another Democrat would have run against him from the left next year,” Schnur said. “But given a landslide like this one, it’s very hard to see that happening.”

With a little more than a year left in his term, Citrin expects Newsom will avoid “self-inflicted wounds” such as his ill-fated visit to the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant during the state’s Covid surge last fall, and make a greater effort to connect with Latino voters.

“There has been some sense in this campaign that he has not had a strong a following among Latino voters as you would want given the growing political and electoral power of Latinos.”

Updated

The White House has dismissed Republican criticism of Gen Mark Milley, arguing the chairman’s reported actions were understandable given that he was working with Donald Trump, who had incited a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

“This current president, who follows the constitution, who’s not fomenting an insurrection, who follows the rule of law, has complete confidence in Chairman Milley and him continuing to serve in his role,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this afternoon.

“I don’t think the president is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while the president of the United States and the leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent.”

Joe Biden’s comments about Gen Mark Milley come as some Republicans have called on the president to fire the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff over his reported efforts to put guardrails on Donald Trump’s behavior during his final days in office.

Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, sent Biden a letter arguing that Milley’s reported actions represented “a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party”.

“You must immediately dismiss General Milley,” Rubio told Biden. “America’s national security and ability to lead in the world are at stake.”

Biden says he has 'great confidence' in Milley amid Republican criticism

Joe Biden said he still has “great confidence” in Gen Mark Milley, following a report that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff took steps to prevent Donald Trump from starting a nuclear war or launching an attack on China during his final days in office.

“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters during a pool spray as he met with business and academic leaders to discuss the US response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Republican lawmakers have criticized Milley over the report, arguing the top military official’s actions contradicted his constitutional duty to the commander-in-chief.

But the White House has given no indication that it plans to reprimand Milley over the incident, which was revealed in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book.

“The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our constitution,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of Milley.

Biden sends congratulations to California's Newsom

Joe Biden has framed Gavin Newsom’s defeat of attempts to recall him from his California governorship and replace him with a Republican as a victory for a firm, nonpartisan approach to getting the coronavirus pandemic under control.

Despite Newsom’s mixed record and notable embarrassments over the pandemic, Biden issued congratulations on Wednesday and focused on Covid-19.

Biden’s statement reads: “This vote is a resounding win for the approach he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely and strong plans to distribute real medicines - not fake treatments - to help those who get sick.”

“The fact that votes in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking these steps to get the pandemic behind us.”

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden still has “complete confidence” in Gen Mark Milley, the White House said. Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked to respond to revelations from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff took steps to prevent Donald Trump from starting a nuclear war or launching an attack on China during his final days in office. “The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our constitution,” Psaki said of Milley.
  • Celebrated gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman testified before the Senate judiciary committee on the FBI’s failings to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar. Getting emotional while delivering her opening statement, Biles told members of the committee, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
  • California governor Gavin Newsom easily defeated an effort to remove him from office. With about 70% of ballots counted, only 36% of California voters supported recalling Newsom, well short of the 50% needed to remove the governor from his post.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

A spokesperson for Gen Mark Milley defended his actions in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, saying the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff had acted “within his authority”.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia. These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict,” spokesperson Dave Butler said.

“His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability. All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.”

Butler concluded, General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has taken multiple questions about the revelations in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, again expressing confidence in Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Psaki drew a sharp distinction between the chairman’s relationship with Donald Trump, who incited a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, and his relationship with Joe Biden.

“This current president, who follows the constitution, who’s not fomenting an insurrection, who follows the rule of law, has complete confidence in Chairman Milley and him continuing to serve in his role,” Psaki said.

Regarding Republican criticism of Milley, Psaki said, “I don’t think the president is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while the president of the United States and the leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent.”

Biden has 'complete confidence' in Milley, White House says

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now holding her daily briefing, and she was asked about the revelations in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book on the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

According to Woodward and Costa, Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, took steps to prevent Trump from starting a nuclear war or launching an attack on China in the days before Joe Biden was sworn in.

The revelations have led some Republicans to call for Milley’s resignation, accusing him of undermining the constitution by trying to put guardrails on Trump’s behavior during his final days in office.

“The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our constitution,” Psaki said of Milley.

The press secretary urged Americans to consider the “key context” in which Milley allegedly took these steps, referring to Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney exited the Capitol together after testifying about the FBI’s failures to properly investigate the sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

The two Olympic gymnasts held hands as they walked away from the room where the Senate judiciary committee is holding its hearing.

FBI director Christopher Wray and DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz are now testifying before the panel.

Updated

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman told the Senate judiciary committee about the systemic failures that allowed Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse to continue even after young women came forward with their allegations.

“Over the past few years, it has become painfully clear how a survivor’s healing is affected by the handling of their abuse,” Raisman said in her testimony. “And it disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.”

She later added, “My reports of abuse were not only buried by USAG and USOPC, but they were also mishandled by federal law enforcement officers who failed to follow their most basic duties.”

Follow the Guardian’s separate live blog for more updates from the hearing:

Pope Francis warned bishops against allowing politics to determine who is offered communion, as Catholic leaders in the US debate whether Joe Biden should be reprimanded for supporting abortion rights.

The AP reports from “aboard the papal plane,” per the outlet’s dateline:

Francis was asked en route home from Slovakia about the debate in the U.S. church about whether President Joe Biden and other politicians should be denied Communion because of their stances on abortion. U.S. bishops have agreed to draft a ‘teaching document’ that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including Biden, for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

Francis declined to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, saying he didn’t know the U.S. case well enough. He repeated that abortion was ‘homicide,’ and that Catholic priests cannot give the Eucharist to someone who is not in communion with the church. He cited the case of a Jew, or someone who isn’t baptized or who has fallen away from the church.

Most importantly, he said, was that priests and bishops must respond pastorally and not politically to any problem that comes before them. He said they must use ‘the style of God’ to accompany the faithful with ‘closeness, compassion and tenderness.’

‘And what should pastors do? Be pastors, and not go condemning, condemning,’ Francis said.

Biden himself has downplayed the possibility that he may be denied communion, saying in June, “That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The US treasury department released a report today that said the country’s childcare system fails to serve families because of market failures that make it too expensive for families and force providers to keep costs low, leaving workers barely able to make ends meet.

The report found that the average family with at least one child under age 5 would need to devote about 13% of their income to pay for child care. It also highlighted the burden on people who work in early childhood education and care - one in every 110 US workers and one in every 55 working women.

“While the benefits of child care and early childhood education are myriad and well-documented, the United States invests woefully little in early childhood education and care,” the report said.

Treasury secretary Janet Yellen is holding an event with Kamala Harris at 4pm ET today to discuss how the proposed $3.5tn spending bill could help alleviate burdens like the cost of child care.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema met with Joe Biden for about an hour at the White House to discuss the $3.5tn spending package, according to CNN.

Biden is also expected to meet later today with Senator Joe Manchin, who (like Sinema) has expressed concerns about the price tag of the reconciliation bill.

Because of the 50-50 split in the Senate, majority leader Chuck Schumer needs every member of the Democratic caucus to support the bill in order to get it passed.

Biles blames 'an entire system that enabled and perpetrated' Nassar's abuse

Simone Biles was the first gymnast to deliver her opening statement at the Senate judiciary committee hearing on the FBI’s failures in investigating sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

The Olympic gymnast accused the FBI of having “turned a blind eye to us” as Nassar abused hundreds of girls in his role as the doctor for the national USA women’s gymnastics team.

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles said.

“USA Gymnastics and the United States, Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge.”

Biles concluded, “I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should have been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar. And the only reason I did was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate.”

For more updates on the hearing, follow the Guardian’s separate live blog:

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that she met with actress Angelina Jolie this morning to discuss the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

“Met briefly this morning with the tireless and committed #AngelinaJolie this morning to talk about the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and the importance of continuing to fight for women, children and families around the world,” Psaki said on Twitter.

Jolie also met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday to discuss reauthorizing the VAWA.

Celebrity sighting: actor Angelina Jolie stopped by the White House briefing room this morning, a day after meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Jolie is in Washington to participate in discussions about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

As reporters threw questions at Jolie in the briefing room, she joked, “I like that I’ve walked into a press conference.”

Updated

Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman will testify on Wednesday about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, as the US Senate examines why the FBI failed to investigate his crimes sooner.

Biles and Raisman will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee alongside their fellow former Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney and former gymnast Maggie Nichols, who was the first victim to report the abuse to USA Gymnastics.

The hearing comes after the justice department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, in July issued a scathing report which blasted the FBI for botching its investigation in a series of errors that allowed the abuse to continue for months.

Horowitz will also testify on Wednesday as will the FBI director, Chris Wray, who is expected to face sharp bipartisan questioning about why the agents who botched the probe were never prosecuted for their misconduct.

For more updates on the hearing, follow the Guardian’s separate live blog:

Updated

Biden to meet with Manchin and Sinema to discuss spending package

Joe Biden will meet with Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema today to discuss the $3.5tn spending package, according to the Washington Post.

The meeting comes as Manchin and Sinema have both indicated they will not support a bill with a price tag of $3.5tn, enraging progressives who view the current cost as a compromise.

Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, all Senate Democrats must support the reconciliation bill in order to get it passed through the upper chamber.

The bill includes much of Biden’s economic agenda, so his administration is heavily invested in ensuring the legislation makes it to the president’s desk.

The blog will have more details on the meeting once they become available. Stay tuned.

Updated

Simone Biles and fellow gymnasts arrive on Capitol Hill for Senate testimony

Celebrated gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman have arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before the Senate judiciary committee.

The group will be testifying about the failings in the FBI’s investigation into numerous sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar, the former team doctor for the US women’s gymnastics team.

The gymnasts will be testifying alongside Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the justice department, and FBI director Christopher Wray.

The hearing comes after Horowitz’s office released a report on the FBI investigation in July, which concluded that the bureau “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies”.

The blog will have more updates on the hearing coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

The Guardian’s Dani Anguiano and agencies report:

California’s governor Gavin Newsom may have resoundingly defeated a recall attempt, but that didn’t stop a Republican challenger from attempting to sow doubt about the outcome even before polls closed.

Larry Elder, the rightwing radio host who lead the pack in the effort to defeat Newsom, had been spreading conspiracy theories to falsely imply that the election was rigged against him.

Elder told reporters there might be “shenanigans” in the election and has a link on his website to a website encouraging users to “fight California election fraud” by submitting reports of “irregularities, interference, or intimidation”. There’s no proof of widespread election fraud.

Elder’s conspiracy theories echo efforts by Donald Trump to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen and rigged against him. The language on the website the Elder site linked to appears lifted from a petition circulated to help Trump’s effort to overturn the results of last year’s presidential election.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has prevailed in a historic recall election that had him battling for his political life.

Newsom’s most popular challenger was Larry Elder, a rightwing radio host who drew comparisons to Donald Trump over his efforts to sow baseless doubts about the election process.

Newsom did not hold a watch party or election night celebration. Instead, he struck a somber tone speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, saying: “Tonight I’m humbled, grateful, but resolved.”

Speaking in Sacramento, Newsom said that in voting no on the Republican-led recall, Californians said “Yes to science, we said yes to vaccines.

Newsom easily defeats recall effort, delivering major victory for Democrats

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

California governor Gavin Newsom has easily defeated an effort to remove him from office, after voters overwhelmingly opposed the proposal in yesterday’s recall election.

“We rejected cynicism and bigotry and chose hope and progress,” Newsom said once the AP called the race, about 45 minutes after polls closed last night.

As of now, with approximately 68% of votes reported, 64% of California voters opposed removing Newsom, while 36% supported the idea. Newsom’s opponents needed to attract at least 50% of the vote to remove him from office.

The victory will provide a boost for Democrats in California and across the nation, as the party looks ahead to the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey this November.

And the results may also spark more questions about reforming California’s recall system, which has already attracted intense criticism over the months leading up to the election.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

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