Vaccine mandates for the US military are meant to identify “sincere Christians … free thinkers” and “men with high testosterone levels”, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Monday night.
Such people, he said, “do not love Joe Biden” and would therefore “leave immediately”.
“It’s the takeover of the US military,” Carlson said.
The rightwing host has a hugely influential platform, reaching an average 3.3 million viewers in August. Despite vaccinations or daily Covid tests being required by Fox News, Carlson’s employer, he has consistently cast doubt on vaccines and other measures to combat Covid-19.
On Monday, Katie Lane, whose 45-year-old father was not vaccinated and who died of Covid-19 in Washington state, told CNN he “watched some Tucker Carlson videos on YouTube, and some of those videos involved some misinformation about vaccines, and I believe that played a role”.
Jesse Benton, and Doug Wead, two Republican operatives, have been charged with funneling $25,000 from an unnamed Russian to a presidential campaign in 2016.
The indictment does not name the campaign but at the time of the alleged contribution, September 2016, Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for president against Hillary Clinton.
As the Associated Press reports, “according to court papers, Wead, 75, of Bonita Springs, Florida, told a Russian foreign national he could meet an unnamed presidential candidate at a political event in exchange for a contribution. It is illegal to solicit campaign contributions from foreigners.”
The US justice department alleges that Wead, also an author, and Benton, a former senior aide to the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Senator Rand Paul, from the same state, orchestrated a cover-up of the illegal donation.
There is no indication that Trump or other campaign aids knew where the money came from.
The AP again: “Both men appeared in court on Monday. Benton’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Wead attorney Jay Sekulow” – formerly a lawyer for Trump when he was president – “said Wead pleaded not guilty.”
Last December, Trump pardoned Benton for a 2012 conviction for bribery.
Schiff: 6 January committee ‘going straight to subpoenas’
Adam Schiff, a senior Democratic member of the House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, said on Monday the panel was “going straight to subpoenas where we think we’re dealing with recalcitrant witnesses.”
“In some cases, we’re making requests we think will be complied with,” Schiff also told reporters, as relayed by Politico.
The select committee contains only two Republicans: prominent Trump critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. The minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, withdrew co-operation when the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, rejected his suggestion of panel slots for Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, key allies of Donald Trump.
Jordan in particular has been the focus of reporting on what he knew and when about the 6 January attack, around which five people died and which Trump supporters mounted after a “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House, at which Trump told them to “fight like hell” in service of his lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud.
Jordan and other members of Congress including McCarthy are seen as potential witnesses to be called by the 6 January committee.
Most observers expect them to fiercely resist such summons. Some have claimed “executive privilege” may shield Republicans from discussing communications with Trump in January. Schiff, the chair of the House intelligence committee, said such claims were “bogus” and said the Biden justice department is unlikely to approve them.
“Where we do meet resistance, we intend to push back hard and fast,” Schiff said, without naming any prospective witnesses. Whether simple Republican refusal to play ball can be overcome without lengthy court battles remains of course to be seen.
Here’s Sidney Blumenthal’s take on whether Jordan can be compelled to appear before the committee – informed by events in Virginia and in Congress in the years immediately before the civil war:
Schumer pledges Democrats will ‘move on our own’ with voting rights, despite filibuster challenges
In his speech at the UN general assembly meeting, Joe Biden emphasized the US priority in defending allies and the country’s interests, including in terrorist attacks, but said that while the country is prepared to use force if necessary, the “US military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first.”
“It should not be used as an answer to every problem we see around the world,” he said.
Biden noted that “bombs and bullets cannot defend against Covid-19 or its future variants.”
“To fight this pandemic, we need a collective act of science and political will. We need to act now to get shots in arms as fast as possible and expand access to oxygen treatments to save lives.”
Biden: US is ‘opening a new era of relentless diplomacy’
Joe Biden is speaking at the UN general assembly, his first speech as US president.
Biden noted the 4.5m people who have died from Covid-19, saying, “Our shared grief is a poignant reminder that our collective future will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity, to act together.”
“This is the clear and urgent choice that we face here at the dawning of what must be a decisive decade for our world. A decade that will quite literally, determine our futures as a global community,” Biden added.
“In my view, how we answer these questions in this moment, whether we choose to fight for our shared future or not. all reverberate for generations yet to come.”
Biden briefly addressed the US removal of troops in Afghanistan, saying, “Instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes and devoting our resources to the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future.”
“We’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of listing people up around the world,” he said, adding that the US is turning its focus on “regions of the world” that are most “consequential”, including the Indo-Pacific region.
Read more updates from the UN in the Guardian’s separate live blog: