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Obama heads West to keep guns push alive

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President Barack Obama Wednesday said many proud gun owners backed sensible measures to stop an epidemic of firearms deaths, as he fought to keep his reform drive alive.

Obama flew west to Colorado, a state where gun rights and frontier spirit is strong, but which has also seen lawmakers push through new firearms laws following a movie theater shooting last year and the Newtown school massacre.

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In excerpts of a speech he was to give at a police academy, the president argued that there was no contradiction between his plans to protect US citizens and a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms.

“I’ve gotten stacks of letters from proud gun owners … who tell me how deeply they cherish their rights, and don’t want them infringed upon — but they still want us to do something to stop the epidemic of gun violence.”

The president also lamented delays in Congress over passing new gun crime measures following the horror at Sandy Hook elementary school in December.

“It’s now been just over 100 days since the murder of 20 innocent children and six brave educators in Newtown, Connecticut shocked this country into doing something to protect our kids,” Obama said in the excerpts.

“But consider this: over those 100 days or so, more than 100 times as many Americans have fallen victim to gun violence.

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“Every day we wait to do something about it, even more are stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”

Obama scheduled his trip, and another visit to Connecticut next Monday amid fears that ambitious plans to reform firearm laws are in deep peril.

Earlier, White House hopes of enacting a new assault weapons ban and curbs on high capacity magazine clips are now fading, so the centerpiece of Obama’s efforts is likely to be a bid to expand background checks for gun owners.

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But even that fallback plan appears under threat in Congress, where Republicans as well as Obama’s Democrats face tough re-election races next year in heartland states where gun culture runs strong.

Obama’s visit to Denver Police Academy took him just a few miles from the scene of a mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last year in which 12 people were slain.

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One of the president’s top aides admitted Wednesday that some in Washington were getting “cold feet” on gun reform, despite national polls showing 90 percent of Americans favor stronger background checks.

“Washington tends to be a lagging indicator of public opinion,” Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer said, adding that he remained confident that stronger gun legislation would emerge from the aftermath of Newtown.

“What the president wants to sign is the strongest gun bill he can sign,” Pfeiffer told a breakfast meeting hosted by the Politico news organization.

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“We have to make sure that whatever we do is better than current law. We are going to look at any compromise that comes forward.”

Some Republicans, who feel any new laws would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms, warn they will filibuster legislation expected to be brought up in the Senate after Congress returns from a recess next week.

But it is not just Obama’s Republican foes who are standing in the way of change — some on his own side are also in a tough spot.

Several Democratic senators, like Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, face difficult political choices that could trap them between their president and conservative constituencies.

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Lawmakers in Colorado, which Obama won on the way to re-election in November, have passed new gun laws requiring expanded background checks and limits on the size of magazines for assault weapons.

Opponents of expanding federal background checks argue that they would involve a government registry of firearms which may be unconstitutional.

They also fear that such a scheme would make it tough for family members to hand guns down through generations, or would prove prohibitive in rural areas where people may live many miles from gun stores used to process checks.

The top gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association (NRA) argues that guns are not the problem.

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An NRA task force released a report Tuesday calling for more armed guards in US schools, following the Newtown killings.


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GOP will be ‘aided and abetted’ by Russian bots and trolls defending Trump: Former FBI counter-intel chief

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The former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned Americans to "hunker down" because Russian intelligence will be repeating Republican talking points.

Frank Figliuzzi was interviewed Thursday by MSNBC's Brian Williams on "The Last Word."

"Frank, Fiona Hill -- who richly deserves it -- has been awarded front page status tomorrow morning on the front page of The New York Times, and I imagine newspapers and websites across this country," Williams noted.

"It was extraordinary today when she -- in effect, begged -- asked, certainly, members of the committee to stop supplying Russian talking points, to stop advancing Russian propaganda in the Congress of the United States," he continued.

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Trump has committed 6 impeachable offenses: Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe says ‘the evidence is all there’

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe broke down the six impeachable offenses President Donald Trump has committed during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Tribe has argued 36 cases before the United States Supreme Court and taught at Harvard Law for 50 years. He co-authored the 2018 book To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment with Joshua Matz.

"Everyone was in the loop, it was no secret. That was the testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland yesterday as he implicated the president, Secretary of State, White House chief of staff, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton and other administration officials in the plot to bribe the president of Ukraine to publicly launch an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for U.S. military aid to Ukraine that was authorized by Congress and that the president was withholding," O'Donnell reported.

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Rachel Maddow breaks down how public opinion is catching up with the facts of Trump’s impeachment

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Thursday broke down how the details from the televised impeachment hearings are being reported in local newspapers.

The host read the headlines from multiple newspapers following the damning testimony by Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

The Los Angels Times headlined, "Sonland implicates president." "Envoy says Trump directed effort," was The Wall Street Journal headline.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlined, "'Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret': Defiant Sondland says he followed Trump's orders."

"Trump directed pressure on Ukraine, ambassador says," headlined The Kansas City Star.

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