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White House calls Westboro protests ‘reprehensible’

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Wednesday that it views anti-gay protests of Westboro Baptist Church at military funerals as “reprehensible” but acknowledged it could do little about the group.

The White House made its comments after five petitions created by Americans on its “We the People” website attracted almost 675,000 signatures.

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The petitions asked the government to name the church, based in Topeka, Kansas, as a hate group, or end its tax-exempt status. The White House responded that it could not directly comment on the requests, and noted that the government does not keep a list of hate groups.

“That all said, we agree that practices such as protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible – a point that President Obama has made for years,” the White House said.

The church has successfully defended its right to free speech in court.

The petitions were launched after the group threatened to picket in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 elementary school students and six adults were shot to death in December.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jackie Frank and Vicki Allen)

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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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