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All-formats interview with Yellen in Africa yields sharp comments on US debit limit impasse

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Fatima Hussein, a treasury reporter in Washington, spent weeks negotiating a commitment for a rare all-formats interview with Janet Yellen during the treasury secretary’s visit to Africa. The interview couldn’t have happened at a better time, as Yellen took questions from AP in Senegal just two days after announcing the U.S. government had bumped up against its debt limit and would need to use “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.

Yellen blamed Republicans for making “irresponsible” threats to withhold approval of a debt limit increase unless Democrats agree to spending cuts, and she warned of the potential for a “self-imposed calamity.”

The interview took place just hours after Yellen visited the House of Slaves off the Senegalese coast which was a hub for the Atlantic slave trade, and Hussein questioned her about the Biden administration’s position on reparations for slavery.

The AP interview was Yellen’s first for any of the reporters who had traveled with her on the trip, and by far the newsiest. It was used by U.S. television networks and promoted in political newsletters.

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