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Boston bombing jury begins deliberating if Dzokhar Tsarnaev is guilty

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A jury began deliberating on Tuesday in the trial of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of carrying out the 2013 bombing attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264 others.

Tsarnaev, 21, is also charged with shooting a police officer to death three days after prosecutors contend he and his older brother set of a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race’s crowded finish line on April 15, 2013.

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The question of whether the ethnic Chechen defendant is guilty of 30 criminal counts may be the easy part of the jury’s job. If they find him guilty, the same 12 jurors will hear a second round of evidence before determining whether to sentence Tsarnaev to death or to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Defense lawyer Judy Clarke readily admitted her client’s responsibility on Monday but contended that 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been the driving force behind the attack. Tamerlan died early on April 19, 2013 after his brother ran him over with a car at the end of a gunfight with police.

Representatives of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts distributed flyers outside court on Tuesday reiterating the church’s opposition to capital punishment.

“The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again cause harm,” read the statement, signed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and three bishops. “Society can do better than the death penalty.”

Though the death penalty is unpopular in Boston, a liberal-leaning city with a deep-rooted Catholic community, jurors who serve on federal capital murder trials must express a willingness to impose it. It took the court 24 days to choose 12 jurors and six alternates who satisfied that condition.

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Prosecutors called 92 witnesses over the last month to make the case that Tsarnaev was an equal partner with his brother in plotting the bombings as vengeance for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-majority countries. The defense called just four witnesses, including an FBI photographer who also testified for the prosecution.

The blasts killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 23, and 8-year-old Martin Richard. Tsarnaev is also accused of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts of Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

(Editing by Scott Malone)

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Former government ethics chief hilariously imagines GOP’s reaction if Trump actually shot someone

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Former director of government ethics, Walter Shaub

President Donald Trump infamously said in 2016 that his supporters were so loyal that he could shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose any support.

Walter Shaub, who served as chief of the Government Ethics Office under former President Barack Obama, hilariously imagined how elected Republicans would react if Trump actually did shoot someone on 5th Avenue.

"It was indecorous of the president to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue," Shaub said, imagining a scripted GOP response. "I would have preferred he not do that. In the strongest possible terms, I add that I find it to be generally inconsistent with the higher aims of responsible governance. And you can quote me on that."

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Trump will survive impeachment — but will never truly recover from the deep wounds it inflicts

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After deliberating with the members of her caucus and reading the House Select Committee on Intelligence report on the Ukraine bribery scandal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday morning that she has directed the chairs of the Judiciary, Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services and Ways and Means committees to begin writing articles of impeachment against President Trump.

This article was originally published at Salon

Her speech was quite moving, offering up pertinent quotes from the founders and laying out her reasoning for going ahead after having been notably reluctant to do so.

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The Republican Party resorts to suppressing its own voters after being overrun by Trump: former GOP congressman

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In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal this Thursday, former GOP congressman and current 2020 challenger to President Trump, Joe Walsh, argued that Republicans are shutting out any competition to Trump on their 2020 primary ballots, ultimately "disenfranchising GOP voters in eight states—so far."

"The Republican Party apparatus has been bound to one man through power plays and intimidation," Walsh writes. "Since Mr. Trump was elected, 40 Republican state party chairmen have turned over. The party’s leadership is unrecognizable from what it was before Mr. Trump."

According to Walsh, the GOP protecting Trump from primary challengers is a reflection of an infamous Trump personality trait -- a complete disregard for anyone who disagrees with him.

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