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Political Brew: A year in office for Biden, tensions with Russia, and the fillibuster

Our analysts this week are Ray Richardson of WLOB Radio, and attorney Ken Altshuler, longtime co-host of the WGAN Morning News.

MAINE, USA — President Biden’s press conference comments about Russia and Ukraine stirred the pot on this week’s Political Brew, as Democrat Ken Altshuler and Republican Ray Richardson agreed the President’s comments sent confusing messages to Americans and our European allies about how the U.S. will respond if Russia invades Ukraine.

Following the comments in last week’s presidential press conference, the White House staff issued clarifications and even had the President speak again the following day to attempt to end the confusion. 

“When you’re talking foreign policy and talking about Russia, you need to be careful what you say,” said Altshuler.

“And making a comment like a small incursion would not be a big deal is not the message you want to send to Putin or the European community."

Richardson basically agreed.  “A complete lack of clarity, not just in this country but around the world.”

Both analysts said the U.S. cannot get involved in actual military action in Ukraine and Richardson said he hopes talks between Biden and Putin can continue, and reach some sort of peaceful settlement

“We’ve got to hopefully [work] through diplomacy,” he said.  “I just hope the comment by the President doesn’t give Putin an opening he didn’t already have.”

The two also agreed the outcome of the week’s U.S. Senate vote over the filibuster rule and voting rights came as no surprise, saying it was clear for weeks. Democrats would not be able to secure enough support to pass it.

However, they disagreed on whether some of the measures about voting rules that have been passed in individual states are aimed at voter suppression. 

They also discussed the U.S. Supreme Court decision denying former President Trump’s claim of executive privilege regarding records being sought by the January 6th investigation. Richardson said it is a partisan investigation, “a witch hunt,” while Altshuler said House Republicans had the opportunity to be part of the probe but chose not to do so.

Richardson said he wants to know the truth about what happened on January 6, but doesn’t believe the current investigation will find it. Altshuler, however, said he thinks the truth will come out and that it will pose more problems for President Trump.

On Maine issues, there was disagreement over the increasing number of communities enacting local mask mandates to fight COVID.  Ken Altshuler said he agrees with it.

“I’m not a mask or COVID  fear monger,” he said. “I wear a mask when I can, but I think it’s a common-sense precaution.”

As for the local votes, he said if it’s a case of majority rule, “I’m all for it.”

Ray Richardson said he opposes the government-ordered mask mandates.

“If a private business wants to do it for their business, that’s fine,“ but suggested it's time for governments to back off. 

“Great Britain is ending vaccine passports and mask mandates, they’re moving on and we should, too.”