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Half a million Covid deaths ‘heartbreaking’, says Biden – follow live

Joe Biden marks over 500,000 Covid deaths in the US: ‘We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow’

President Joe Biden led a sombre address to the nation on Monday as the US hit the “heartbreaking” milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths, as Donald Trump’s team dismissed news of a rift with his former vice-president Mike Pence.

Mr Biden observed a minute’s silence outside the White House alongside vice-president Kamala Harris and their partners during a candle-lit vigil and urged Americans to “fight this together as one people.”

He described hitting the 500,000 number as a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” and noted that the number of US death’s from the pandemic is now higher than the death toll from World War One, World War Two and the Vietnam War combined.

It comes as Mr Trump’s advisers have denied that the former president refused to share a stage with Mike Pence at the conservative annual political conference in Florida and played down talk of a dispute between the pair.

Mr Trump’s senior aide Jason Miller said: “This story is patently false, and these ‘anonymously sourced’ attacks designed to create division are why people distrust the media.”

“No such demand or request was ever made by President Trump, and in fact, President Trump and Vice President Pence had a great call last week!” he added.

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President Biden set to meet with Canadian PM Trudeau

Joe Biden will hold a virtual meeting with Justin Trudeau this afternoon where a range of issues are expected to be discussed, including the president’s decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The meeting will be an opportunity for the two leaders to review joint efforts in areas of mutual interest such as the COVID-19 response, climate change, and the economic ties that bind our countries, as well as the deep people-to-people bonds we share,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday.

While Mr Biden has had at-times lengthy calls with several foreign leaders, the meeting with Trudeau will also extend to lower-level meetings between Cabinet ministers.

On his first day in office, Mr Biden signed an executive order revoking the permit for Keystone XL – a pipeline that would carry some 830,000 barrels of heavy crude oil each day from fields in Alberta, Canada to the US.

Joe Middleton23 February 2021 09:19

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Trump team denies he is refusing to share stage with Pence and insists they have spoken since Capitol riot

Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jason Miller has dismissed reports of the former president refusing to share a stage with Mike Pence at the conservative annual political conference in Florida and played down suggestions of a feud between the pair, writes The Independent’s Shweta Sharma.

“This story is patently false, and these ‘anonymously sourced’ attacks designed to create division are why people distrust the media,” Mr Miller said.

“No such demand or request was ever made by President Trump, and in fact, President Trump and Vice President Pence had a great call last week!” he added.

Joe Middleton23 February 2021 09:01

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Security officials face questions today about Capitol violence

Congress is set to hear from former Capitol security officials for the first time about the massive law enforcement failures on January 6, the day a violent mob laid siege to the building and interrupted the presidential electoral count.

Three of the four people scheduled to testify on Tuesday before two Senate committees resigned under pressure immediately after the deadly attack, including the former head of the Capitol Police.

Five people died as a result of the violence, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by police as she tried to break through the doors of the House chamber with lawmakers still inside.

Former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael Stenger and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving will speak publicly for the first time since their resignations at the hearing, which is part of a joint investigation by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.

They will be joined by former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, who sent additional officers to the scene after the rioting began.

Joe Middleton23 February 2021 08:53

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Fauci says Trump failures and political divide over masks led to 500,000 Covid death toll

America yesterday hit the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths from the pandemic as President Biden led a memorial at the White House to those who have lost their lives so far.

The country’s top virologist Dr Anthony Fauci said the political divisiveness in the country and the Trump administration’s “mixed signals” on health guidelines were detrimental to efforts to curb the pandemic.

Mayank Aggarwal has all the details

Joe Middleton23 February 2021 08:44

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog with the latest up-to-the-minute coverage of everything in US politics today.

Joe Middleton23 February 2021 08:40

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