Surrounded by pillar candles, with black swag hanging overhead, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff participated in a moment of silence for 500,000 Americans lost to COVID-19. Biden also ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff for the next five days.
From the Cross Hall in the White House, Biden delivered remarks about the impact of losing a loved one. He mused in detail on the “cruel fate” of dying alone, feeling “that black hole in your chest,” and grieving without traditional rituals—remarks that conveyed a higher priority on signaling empathy than on raising morale as Americans cope with the effects of the pandemic.
Expanding PPP For Minorities, Extra-Small Businesses, and… Felons?
For the next two weeks, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan program will be serving only businesses with fewer than 20 employees in order to reach those who may have been crowded out during previous rounds of aid, especially minority-owned businesses.
The Biden regime is looking to rescind certain restrictions that they say have disproportionately affected minorities, including exclusions on business owners who are delinquent on student loans and those with non-fraud felony arrests or convictions within the previous year, as long as they are not currently incarcerated.
Under President Donald Trump, black-owned business made a robust rebound from the coronavirus economic crisis, even leading the way among other racial groups in business ownership.
Marine Mystery Solved?
Many observed that on Monday morning, there was no Marine outside the West Wing (signifying that the President is in the Oval Office) during the time Biden was schedule to received the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB).
Debra Saunders of the Las Vegas Review-Journal inquired of Press Secretary Jen Psaki and received this answer:
Saunders: This morning, I saw there was no Marine out front, in the front door, during the 9:45 briefing. And I asked Lower Press. Lower Press says, “We don’t have to have a Marine out front when the President is in the Oval Office.” And I’ve been getting emails and questions ever since I filed that pool report: Is — if there is no Marine out front, does that mean that the President is not in the Oval Office?
Psaki: The President was in the Oval Office this morning, working, receiving the PDB and all the things that you’re aware of from the schedule. There hasn’t been a change of policy.
Saunders: So, if there’s no Marine there, that doesn’t mean anything?
Psaki: Again — I mean, I can certainly talk to them about the specific circumstances of this morning, but I can report to you that the President was in the Oval Office and the policy that’s long been in place continues to be in place.
Saunders: People were fascinated by this.
One reporter claimed the answer was that the Marine was receiving a COVID test. The White House called it a “misnomer” that a Marine must be outside the West Wing when the President is there, saying that the Marine can leave his post for various reasons—an answer that curiously implies there was no other military aide to take the place of the one being tested.
Clarification on Iran.
Psaki was also asked to clarify a statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on talks with Iran about American hostages. Sullivan had stated Sunday in a network interview that “We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue.” It was unclear, however, whether Sullivan meant that the White House was communicating directly with Iran or that talks had occurred through other channels.
Q: And real quick on Iran, specifically the hostages that they’re holding. Jake Sullivan said yesterday, “We’ve begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue.” They later clarified it’s not with Washington directly. So can you just clarify, is this being done through the Swiss or through other European officials instead?
PSAKI: We have a range of means of communicating with the Iranians. And we’ve certainly raised American citizens, who are being held in Iran, through those channels. But I don’t have anything more specific for you.
Q: And so there’s nothing direct going on, as far as you know, between the United States and Iran?
PSAKI: Again, we have a range of channels that we navigate or communicate through, direct and indirect, but I don’t have anything more specific to lay out for you.
Just a few days later, Biden bombed Iranian assets in Syria.