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Ohio Amish plead not guilty in beard-cutting case

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Sixteen members of a US Amish community accused of carrying out a string of beard and hair-cuttings against religious rivals have pleaded not guilty and are set to go on trial in August.

The defendants — 10 men and six women — refused to speak to media after their afternoon hearing on Thursday over what prosecutors have called “religiously-motivated assaults” between September and November of last year.

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Their lawyers have urged their release, saying the seven who remain incarcerated — including alleged ringleader Samuel Mullet — need to get back to their families to help with the spring planting season.

“I talked with my client and she’s got other members of her family and her children planting the crops in the field,” attorney Joseph Dubyak told reporters.

Edward Bryan, Mullet’s lawyer, told Fox 8 News that he would seek to have his client released on bail.

“His family needs him home right now. This is a very busy time for Amish people. Obviously, there are a lot of fields to be plowed,” he said.

The Amish, a close-knit Mennonite Christian community that predominantly dwells in the central US states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, shun modern conveniences such as electricity and motor vehicles.

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Mullet, the bishop of the Amish community in the village of Bergholz, Ohio, has also been charged with making false statements to federal agents during the investigation.

Many of the other accused are members of Mullet’s family.

They are accused of breaking into homes and forcibly cutting off men’s beards and women’s hair — both symbols of piety for the Amish.

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The defendants allegedly used scissors, battery-powered clippers and eight-inch (20-centimeter) horse mane shears “sharp enough to cut through leather,” according to the indictment.

Some of them are also accused of concealing and destroying evidence, including a disposable camera, shears and a bag of hair from the victims.

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The trial has been set for August 27.


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MSNBC analyst shreds GOP claim impeachment is an effort to change the 2016 election

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Republicans have claimed that the reason Democrats have sought impeachment, either from the Russia scandal to the Ukraine scandal, is that they want to unmake the 2016 election. Speaking to MSNBC Sunday, NYU Law Prof. Melissa Murray ripped the claim to shreds.

First, impeachment would only remove President Donald Trump is the Republican Senate voted to do so. If the president were removed, the new president wouldn't be Hillary Clinton; it would be Mike Pence, getting Democrats no victories other than upholding the rule of law.

"As these proceedings go away, there is building support for impeachment; it will require a supermajority of the Senate in order to convict and remove the president, which will require some Republican Senators to peel off and depart from the path," Murray said. "But I think the really important thing that Bob has mentioned here is this idea ta the Republicans are taunting that impeachment is a backend effort to basically subvert the will of the people. I think the testimony that was presented yesterday makes clear that that claim is specious."

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Rudy Giuliani’s devotion has escorted Trump straight to impeachment

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"Step by step, [Rudy Giuliani] has escorted President Trump to the brink of impeachment," The New York Times said in a piece following the president's top lawyer and his impact on the scandals facing the 45th president.

Two associates of Giuliani's have already been indicted, Giuliani is under criminal investigation from federal prosecutors, and he was never graced with a top position in the Trump government.

"The separate troubles he has gotten his client and himself into are products of the uniquely powerful position he has fashioned, a hybrid of unpaid personal counsel to the president and for-profit peddler of access and advice," The Times said Sunday.

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Trump team ‘is as incompetent, shambolic, paranoid, and given to conspiracy theories as it appears’: MSNBC panel

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In a Sunday evening panel discussion, MSNBC commentators explained that the White House appears to be just as chaotic and marred by chaos as the rumors say.

Many in the White House learned that the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was working overseas in Ukraine. Giuliani claimed that he's been producing a film that he couldn't get Fox News to run, as it will appear on the fringe network OAN.

"What Rudy Giuliani is doing is using Kremlin-manufactured propaganda as a defensive shield for the president," said CNBC's John Harwood. "Fiona Hill was unambiguous in her testimony to the intelligence committee. What Rudy Giuliani has been doing with these two indicted men who are linked to a Russian oligarch who is tied to Russian organized crime, is trying to manufacture a story that Ukraine, rather than Russia or in addition to Russia or differently from Russia, meddle in the campaign. That is false."

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