Biden meets with Putin in Geneva, Federal Reserve may signal interest rate hike: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin will discuss a number of issues in Geneva. Plus, Democrats consider how to move forward on a stalled infrastructure plan, the Fed may signal an earlier interest rate hike as the economy surges, former University of Michigan athletes and students demand action from the school over sex abuse allegations and dangerous heat continues to bake the West.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson, and this is Five Things you need to know Wednesday, the 16th of June, 2021. Today, Biden meets with Putin, plus record heat continues to bake the West, and more.

Taylor Wilson:

Here are some of the top headlines.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. The meeting caps off a week-long trip to Europe for Biden, including G-7 and NATO summits. Earlier this week, Biden called Putin a worthy adversary, but also declined to get into specific expectations.

President Joe Biden:

I’ve been doing this a long time. The last thing anyone would do is negotiate in front of the world press as to how he’s going to approach a critical meeting with another adversary, and or someone who could be an adversary. It’s the last thing I’m going to do. I had met with him, he’s bright, he’s tough, and I have found that he is a, as they say when you used to play ball, a worthy adversary. But the fact is that I will be happy to talk with you when it’s over, not before, about what the discussion will entail. Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of biding by basic fundamental human rights. It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt his relationships with the rest of the world, in my view, and with me.

Taylor Wilson:

Experts suggest that Biden will likely press Putin on a long list of U.S. grievances, including human rights concerns and recent cyber attacks that came from Russia, and Putin may try to highlight political polarization in the US, and other American issues. International correspondent Kim Hjelmgaard has more.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

This is probably the most colorful, potentially, part of his trip, certainly most anticipated part. He’s going to be having a summit, call it a summit, it’s another one-day meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And there’s been a lot of things in the atmosphere lately, from the U.S. perspective. Depends where we want to trace this back to, obviously there’s a lot of history, but near history we can talk about, obviously, the 2016 presidential election, hacking allegations are still with us, and the Russians have never admitted to it. U.S. intelligence agencies say, “There’s no question really that it happened.” And then since then the number of grievances have deepened, but also expanded. There’s several different forms of cyber attacks that the U.S. blames, if not the Kremlin directly, then certainly its proxies, or affiliates and associates. Whether these are hacks of private companies, like the Colonial Pipeline one, or whether actual attack on U.S. agencies, like the Pentagon, State Department, Department of Energy, which happened as part of the solar winds assaults.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

There’s other Russian territorial aggressions against Ukraine are still with us. They started in 2014. Russia annexed Crimea. They moved then onwards towards Eastern parts, South Eastern parts of Ukraine, where Russia still has supported separatists, has amassed thousands of soldiers on that border for military drills. Just to talk about Crimea, that is an example of Russia essentially annexing, though the Russians dispute that concept and that phrase, because they view it as there’s going way back, annexed a part of a different country, and that hasn’t happened too many times, really, in modern history.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

There’s plenty of other stuff to talk about. The U.S. will want to bring up human rights transgressions. There’s been a couple of high-profile cases lately. One that folks might remember had to do with a Russian dissident called Alexei Navalny. He’s a democracy activist who has been a thorn in the side of Mr. Putin for many years, and comes in and out of the news. But he was poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent and spent some time in Germany recuperating, and when he came back from Germany to Moscow, he was arrested for breaching some parole conditions, with a separate charge that him and his supporters claim were politically motivated. Navalny is in prison, and it’s unclear what the evidence against him is.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

Next to Russia is a country called Belarus, which is, again, a former Soviet country that has aligned itself quite closely with Russia since the end of the Soviet Union. The leader of Belarus is a guy called Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe’s last dictator. Belarus is a very difficult country to be in, to report in. A couple of months ago there were some pretty big democracy, pro-democracy protests and marches in Belarus, and a lot of people were arrested, a lot of people were beaten in captivity. A couple of weeks ago, a Belarussian dissident journalist who was attending a conference in Greece got a commercial flight from Athens to Latvia, which is next door to Belarus, where he had been in exile, and somewhere during the flight the Belorussian authorities said there was a bomb threat against the flight and had the flight diverted to Minsk. And when the plane landed, and this is a commercial airliner, this dissident journalist was arrested, along with his girlfriend.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

Quite an extraordinary length that Mr. Lukashenko has gone to to grab this opposition voice, and there’s no evidence that Russia has been involved in this particular incident. Putin is a strong backer of Lukashenko and essentially props Belarus off economically, militarily. There’s really no other reason why Lukashenko could have lasted, I think it’s more than 30 years in power, without Putin’s support. What leverage Biden has over Putin on these issues is a little unclear, I mean the consequences are sanctions, well Russia’s been sanctioned tons already.

Taylor Wilson:

The summit is expected to be more confrontational than 2018. Then-President Donald Trump dismissed assessments from his own intelligence agencies about Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Taylor Wilson:

Democrats will meet Wednesday to discuss the potential next steps on an infrastructure plan. Democratic lawmakers said they would negotiate with Republicans on a bill that focuses on traditional transportation. But if a deal cannot be reached, they now plan to bring those programs into a larger climate bill. They would use budget reconciliation, a process that bypasses the filibuster that requires a 60-vote majority in the Senate. Instead they’d be able to pass with a simple majority. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that both a bipartisan track and reconciliation track are moving forward, and he hopes to get both done in the month of July.

Taylor Wilson:

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday may signal an earlier interest rate hike than expected. The economy is improving as COVID-19 infections and restrictions fade in the US. Inflation is jumping with high demand and supply chain shortages. Policy makers may push up their forecast for an interest rate hike from 2024 to 2023 at the earliest. Fed Chair Jerome Powell may also hint that the Fed will cut back from its $120 billion a month in treasury and mortgage bond purchases earlier than expected. Those purchases help hold down long-term interest rates, including mortgages.

Taylor Wilson:

Family members of late University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler are speaking out after his son alleged he was sexually assaulted as a child by the teams doctor, Robert Anderson. Matt Schembechler said last week that he told his dad in 1969 that Anderson sexually assaulted him when he was 10 years old, but the doctor continued with the team for decades. Hundreds of University of Michigan athletes have accused Anderson of sexually assaulting them. A warning, the accusations are disturbing. They range from fondling their genitals to giving out draft deferrals for the Vietnam War in exchange for sex acts. Multiple players told the coach about what happened, but no changes were ever made. Anderson worked as a doctor at the University until 2002.

Taylor Wilson:

On Tuesday, Bo Schembechler’s second wife, Kathy, who is not Matt’s mom, and his son Glenn issued a statement defending the late coach. They said that Bo never spoke to them about any inappropriate behavior by Dr. Anderson, and that he would not have tolerated misconduct. Anderson died in 2008, and Bo Schembechler died in 2006. On Wednesday, dozens of former players, and other students who say Anderson assaulted them, will hold a news conference outside Michigan Stadium, demanding action from the school’s leadership,

Taylor Wilson:

Dangerous heat continues to bake much of the Western U.S. More than 50 million Americans in eight states were under heat warnings and watches on Tuesday. Dozens of daily records have been smashed this week, ranging from California’s central and inland valleys, as far north as Wyoming and Montana. Billings, Montana saw a daily record of 104 degrees, and a daily record held since 1919 in Miles City, Montana was shattered by 12 degrees. Officials are also worried about an increased risk of wildfires across Montana. Denver saw a Tuesday high of 101, beating the record for that date by four degrees, and Tuesday’s high of 115 in Phoenix tied a 1974 record. Elsewhere power grid companies in California and Texas are warning that plants are offline more than usual because of the hot weather. They’re also telling residents to save energy when possible to avoid rolling blackouts.

Taylor Wilson:

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. If you have a second, it really helps the show if you can drop us five stars on Apple Podcasts. There you can also give us a review, if you’d like. You can also find us wherever you get your audio, including Spotify and your smart speaker device. Thanks, as always, to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. 5 Things is part of the USA TODAY Network

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