RUSSIA-US-POLITICS Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with US President Joe Biden via a video call in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on December 7, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail METZEL / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images) MIKHAIL METZEL / Contributor
Mikhail METZEL / SPUTNIK / MIKHAIL METZEL / Contributor / AFP via Getty Images

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Biden Meets With Putin Amid Escalating Tensions

It’s Wednesday, December 8th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Biden Meets With Putin Amid Escalating Tensions

The Topline: As tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and Russia after Russian military forces were seen readying an assault on Ukraine, President Joe Biden met with President Vladimir Putin.

Quote Of The Day: “We continue to see a build-up of Russian military forces in the areas around northeastern and eastern Ukraine. … This build-up is concerning to us. It is still not entirely clear what Mr. Putin’s intentions are.”

– Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby

Mikhail Svetlov/Contributor/Getty Images

Background

U.S. intelligence indicates that Russia is readying a massive military offensive against Ukraine, with 175,000 troops, along with armor, artillery and other equipment, being placed along the border. Sources within the intelligence community say an attack could be carried out as early as next year. 

President Biden has apparently been working with France’s President Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, Italy’s Prime Minister Draghi and the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to address the situation. 

He spoke to these leaders on Monday and Tuesday about their “shared concern about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders and Russia’s increasingly harsh rhetoric,” according to another White House statement.

The Meeting

On Tuesday, President Biden held a two-hour virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A White House readout of the two-hour phone call said Biden “voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European Allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine.”

According to the read-out, Biden “made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation.” He also “reiterated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy.”

The 145-word report concluded by saying Biden and Putin “tasked their teams to follow up, and the U.S. will do so in close coordination with allies and partners.”

Yesterday afternoon, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan briefed reporters on the outcome of the meeting between Biden and Putin.

What’s Next?

A response from the U.S. will likely involve additional sanctions, but Russia has rejected this possibility as a threat. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said if the new “sanctions from hell” are imposed, they would respond. 

Russia has also demanded NATO not get involved, and Putin was expected to tell Biden that Ukraine cannot be added as a NATO state because if a NATO state is attacked, all other NATO states would mobilize in its defense.

Kevin Frayer/Stringer/Getty Images

2) U.S. Announces Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics

The Topline: The U.S. government officially announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Monday, a decision made in response to human rights violations by the Chinese Communist Party. 

Quote Of The Day: “The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity … “

– White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki

Diplomatic Boycott

President Joe Biden told reporters last month he was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games after many politicians from both sides of the aisle called for some form of action ahead of the Olympics. The Biden administration slammed the People’s Republic of China for their human rights abuses, saying U.S. diplomatic representation would allow the games to be treated as “business as usual.” 

This is only a diplomatic boycott, not a full boycott, meaning U.S. athletes are still participating in the games.

Reaction

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called the move a “half measure,” calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Games, saying “we must not expose Team USA to the dangers of a repugnant authoritarian regime that disappears it’s own athletes,” in an apparent reference to women’s tennis player Peng Shuai, whose disappearance raised concerns after she publicly claimed she was sexually assaulted by a Chinese official.

The White House called for “proof” of Peng Shuai’s whereabouts in November, and last week, the Women’s Tennis Association announced they are suspending all WTA tournaments in China, including in Hong Kong, over concerns for Peng’s safety.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in late November that he supports a diplomatic boycott of the games but not a full boycott of the Olympics as it would punish the athletes. 

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said China will take “firm countermeasures” in response.

Leigh Vogel/Stringer/Getty Images for Women’s March Inc via Getty Images

3) Abortion Advocates React To Supreme Court Case

The Topline: After the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding a Mississippi pro-life law last week, abortion advocates reacted strongly to the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned. 

Quote Of The Day: “The answer may well be doing it through the political process now. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but it may be the way to do it and I think the best way to do it is not a patchwork of state laws but to put it, codify Roe v. Wade, put it into law and we even have some pro-choice Republicans that have signaled interest in doing that.”

– Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 

The Case

Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding a pro-life law in Mississippi which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A decision on the case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could overturn Roe v. Wade, or seriously undermine existing precedent. 

Pro-Abortion Reaction

On Twitter, a video circulated of a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments celebrating abortion with phrases like “my body, my decision” and “abortion is unstoppable.”

Over the weekend an opinion piece in The New York Times, “I Was Adopted. I Know the Trauma It Can Inflict,” discussed the pain of adoption. Conservatives pointed out how it seemed to be arguing it would be better to be aborted than adopted.

Some politicians are calling for Roe v. Wade to be codified into law. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said this issue is worth abolishing the filibuster for. 

Remember: In September, the House of Representatives passed a bill codifying abortion into law with no Republican support. 

Last week, Senator Susan Collins — a Republican said through a spokeswoman that she “supports the right to an abortion and believes that the protections in the Roe and Casey decisions should be passed into law.”

Next Steps

Looking ahead, both sides of the debate are going to be more active, and their attention will likely be on state legislatures, as they’ll have the power to legislate on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

Last week, The Daily Wire spoke with Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who said the next steps for the pro-life movement are going to be getting pro-life lawmakers elected and laws passed that “reflect the will of the people,” as well as providing even more help to those who need it.

Abortion advocates have also come out strongly in defiance of any attempt to dismantle the Roe precedent, saying they will mobilize to assist women in going to other states to get abortions.

Public Perception: According to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, abortion doesn’t appear to be a major factor for voters. More respondents said they would vote for someone who doesn’t share their views on abortion than those who said they’d vote based on the abortion position of the candidate.

There are at least 21 states that have pro-life laws or constitutional amendments that would make them highly likely to move to prohibit almost all abortions in their states if Roe is overturned. 

Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Courts Building for day six of his trial on December 7, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett asked the prosecutor to stop reading the “N-word” in court Tuesday as the attorney was reading Smollett’s own messages aloud as evidence. Smollett asked the prosecutor to spell or abbreviate the word so as not to offend “every African American in this room.” In response, the prosecutor invited the actor to read his own messages before the court, and Smollett complied. 

Smollett is facing six counts connected to allegations that he staged a hoax hate crime against himself in 2019. Read more about the trial on The Daily Wire.

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Seventeen National School Board Association affiliates have cut ties with the National School Board Association over their coordination with the Biden administration and Department of Justice regarding investigations into parents as potential “domestic terrorists.” The 17 affiliate organizations, which are reportedly considering forming a competing national organization, accounted for at least 40% of annual revenue for the NSBA.

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