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Biden: Egypt leader Mubarak not a ‘dictator,’ shouldn’t step down

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WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator and shouldn’t have to resign, but should be more “responsive” to the needs of his people.

Biden’s remarks came as massive unrest ravaged Egypt every day since Tuesday targeting Mubarak’s 30-year regime, which sought to quiet demonstrators with the use of tear gas, warning shots and water cannon, according to media reports and videos, and by shutting off Internet communication.

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“Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things,” Biden told PBS Newshour, “and he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region: Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel.”

“I would not refer to him as a dictator,” he added.

The vice president hedged when asked by interviewer Jim Lehrer if Mubarak should step down.

“No,” he said. “I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in a direction that would be more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there.”

Biden’s reticence to speak out more strongly against Mubarak’s government, now the target of a pro-democracy movement, appears to reflect the Egyptian leader’s willingness to be a US ally on key issues such as marginalizing Iran and cooperating with Israel on its regional goals.

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Leaked diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks revealed a strong alliance between the two countries, as well as instances of police brutality and some pressure from the Obama administration on Mubarak to strengthen democratic institutions in Egypt.

Mubarak came to power in 1981 and was re-elected to four six-year terms, though tight constitutional restrictions on challenges to the presidency led to questions about his legitimacy. In 2005, under pressure to enact democratic reforms, Mubarak pushed his parliament to amend the constitution in a way that secured his re-election.

Mubarak officials indicated he would run again in September 2011. He said last year that the upcoming elections would be freer and more open than before.

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This video is from PBS’ Newshour, broadcast Jan. 27, 2011.

This audio is from PBS’ Newshour, broadcast Jan. 27, 2011.

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Joy Reid: What’s the point of having laws if the president’s friends can break them without consequence?

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The recent pardon of ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn exasperated MSNBC's Joy Reid, who welcomed former federal prosecutors on her show Wednesday. She explained that President Donald Trump's opposition to "law and order" when it comes to his friends is just more example of Republican hypocrisy to which Americans have become accustomed.

"You know, and Congressman Lieu, you've got The Wall Street Journal going sort of deeper into some of the other things that he did," Reid said of Flynn. "This is not the guy we remember just chanting 'lock her up' at the 2016 Republican National Convention, which is what probably people know him for. Michael Flynn planned to forcibly kidnap a Muslim cleric living in the United States and deliver him to Turkey under the alleged proposal. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. were to be paid as much as $15 million to deliver him to the Turkish government, basically renditioning him for cash. Yet you have Lindsey Graham still Lindsey Grahaming calling it 'a great use of the pardon.' A-OK. Great job, Donald. I wonder what you make of this. I'm old enough to remember when Bill Clinton did a pardon for which Republicans would love to see him clacked in leg irons at the end of his presidency!"

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‘Last chapter in The Godfather’: Watergate prosecutor tears into Trump’s ‘continuing coverup’ of his associates’ Russia misdeeds

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On CNN Wednesday, former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Nick Akerman tore into outgoing President Donald Trump for his pardon of ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — and warned that a larger coverup is looming.

"I think you have to look at the big picture here," said Akerman. "The big picture is that this is part of the continuing coverup of Donald Trump's efforts to conceal what happened between his campaign in 2016 with the Russian government. It started with Jim Comey, his firing because he refused to basically give an oath of loyalty to Donald Trump. It continued when Robert Mueller was appointed, the continuing threats of firing Mueller and his staff. It continued with Roger Stone, who was — his sentence was commuted."

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Conservative Charlie Sykes tells Trump if he wants a pardon — he’ll have to admit he’s guilty first

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Editor and creator of The Bulwark, Charlie Sykes, told MSNBC's Joy Reid that the most "Trumpy" of things President Donald Trump could do is pardon himself ahead of leaving office in January.

After the president pardoned ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, it sparked new anticipation on how Trump will protect himself from prosecution after leaving office. Trump was alleged to have committed at least ten acts of obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller. In that case, the Justice Department followed the internal rule that sitting presidents could not be indicted. Then, it stands to reason that the Justice Department would also follow a 1974 memo from the same Office of Legal Counsel that said a president could not pardon himself.

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