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Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has given himself a January deadline to decide whether to run for president in 2020, used his address at a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Washington Monday to express regret for supporting tough-on-crime bills during his time in Congress, including a measure that established strict sentencing standards for crack and powder cocaine offenses.

Why it matters: Biden would be an early front-runner if he enters the race.

But his role in helping to pass tough-on-crime legislations in the 1990s — that experts say have led to an era of mass incarceration that disproportionately affected black Americans — will certainly face scrutiny.

"I haven't always been right. I know we haven't always gotten things right, but I've always tried. … It was a big mistake when it was made. We thought, we were told by the experts, that crack you never go back, [and that the two were] somehow fundamentally different. It's not different. But it's trapped an entire generation."
— Biden said.

In his remarks, Biden highlighted the work he did with President Barack Obama to help curb sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

31 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Russia President Vladimir Putin confers with defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."