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Arkansas man becomes first to be convicted under the federal anti-hate law ‘Shepard Act’

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An Arkansas man pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of committing a federal hate crime and one count of conspiring to commit a federal hate crime for his role in chasing a car with five Hispanic men inside until it crashed, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday.

Nineteen-year-old Sean Popejoy has become the first person to be convicted for a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009.

“James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard were brutally murdered more than a decade ago, and today the first defendant is convicted for a hate crime under the critical new law enacted in their names,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is unacceptable that violent acts of hate committed because of someone’s race continue to occur in 2011, and the department will continue to use every available tool to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever and wherever they occur.”

Popejoy admitted that he and a friend pursued a car containing five Hispanic men with the intention of threatening and injuring them in 2010.

Pursuing the victims in a truck, Popejoy leaned outside of the front-side passenger window of the vehicle and waived a tire wrench at the car while shouting racial epithets. The driver of the truck then rammed into the victims’ car, causing it to veer off the road, crash into a tree and catch on fire.

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The five men were injured in the crash, with one man sustaining life-threatening injuries.

Popejoy faces a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.

“It is terrible and disturbing that violence motivated by hatred of another’s race continues to occur,” said Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “We are committed to prosecuting such crimes in the Western District of Arkansas.”

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Hope Hicks may have lied under oath that she wasn’t present when Trump and Cohen discussed Stormy Daniels

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Newly unsealed documents in the campaign finance case where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty may provide evidence that Hope Hicks lied to Congress under oath.

According to the court documents, President Donald Trump, Hope Hicks and Cohen were all in communication about the hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Not only did Hicks discuss the payments with both men, she exchanged text messages and emails on the topic.

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2020 Election

White House aides fear Trump believes House vote against impeachment means it’s never going to happen: report

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A proposal to start impeachment hearings that failed in the House on Wednesday led Donald Trump to optimistically proclaim that his presidency is safe at his North Carolina rally last night. But his proclamation has some White House officials worried the president really believes he is out of the woods.

According to a report at Politico, close aides to the president worry that his comment that "we have all this [impeachment] behind us," may be based on an unfounded notion by Trump about how Congress works.

Speaking at his campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., Trump boasted to the crowd, "I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I’ve ever been involved in: the resolution -- how stupid is that -- on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us, the vote was a totally lopsided 332-95-1.”

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Trump campaign refuses to disavow crowd’s racist ‘send her back’ chants

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NPR reporter Tamara Keith on Thursday asked the Trump campaign if it wanted to disavow the racist "send her back" chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) during a Wednesday night Trump campaign rally.

In response to Keith's question, Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh not only refused to disavow the chants, but then took the opportunity to attack the entire Democratic Party for being aligned with "socialism."

"The Squad, as they call themselves, are now the leaders of the Democrat Party," he replied. "Americans don’t like it when elected officials consistently disparage this country. All the Democrats are pushing socialist ideas that are terrible for America. They are all the same."

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