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Militants occupying Oregon wildlife refuge say they won’t leave until US ‘restores’ the Constitution

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A standoff at a remote U.S. wildlife center in Oregon rolled into a fourth day on Tuesday with self-styled militiamen vowing to press on with the protest against the U.S. government even as local officials told the group to go home.

Saturday’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside the town of Burns, Oregon, was spurred by the imprisonment of two ranchers for setting fires that spread to federal land.

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The occupation marked the latest protest over federal management of public land in the West, long seen by political conservatives in the region as an intrusion on individual freedom and property rights.

Protest leader Ammon Bundy, whose father’s ranch in Nevada was the scene of an armed standoff against federal land managers in 2014, said his group had named itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and was defending the Constitution and personal liberty against the federal government.

A Twitter page under Bundy’s said the group had no intention of leaving the refuge until its conditions are met.

The protesters have said they aim “to restore and defend the Constitution” to protect the rights of ranchers and start a national debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy that they hope will force the federal government to release tracts of Western land.

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Many residents in Burns, a town of some 3,000 people about 280 miles (451 km) southeast of Portland, viewed the occupation as the work of outside agitators.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, in a statement on behalf of himself and County Judge Steven Grasty, asked group members to stand down.

“It is time for you to leave our community, go home to your families, and end this peacefully,” Ward said.

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The FBI said it was working with state and local law enforcement for a peaceful resolution and federal law enforcement officials have kept their distance from the wildlife refuge, which is closed to visitors. They are following U.S. policy guidelines instituted to prevent such standoffs from turning deadly as they did in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas in the early 1990s.

The ranchers whose cause Bundy’s group has embraced – Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven – surrendered to federal authorities in California on Monday after being resentenced to longer prison terms for arson.

(Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

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Russia’s former foreign minister calls for impeachment: ‘The America I knew … is gone’

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On Tuesday, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev penned an op-ed in The New York Times calling on Congress to impeach President Donald Trump — arguing that it would set a moral standard not just in America but around the globe. "The America I knew as Russia's foreign minster is gone," he wrote.

"The United States has often played a pivotal role in my political life, beginning 50 years ago when I was a student of international relations at a Moscow university," wrote Kozyrev. "At that time, Soviet propaganda was well-practiced at denouncing Richard Nixon for rejecting the Kremlin’s dogma that in politics, the ends justify the means. Mr. Nixon had argued during his 1960 presidential campaign that the American democratic system recognizes a standard of moral truth that allows the individual to say to government, 'Thus far may you go, but no farther.' If what Mr. Nixon said was true, many of us in the Soviet Union thought, then America is on the right side of history."

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GOP senator ripped as ‘the real villain’ for defending Trump: ‘Lindsey Graham has no shame anymore’

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Intercept contributor Mehdi Hasan wasn't all that shocked that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) downplayed President Donald Trump's racism by claiming he's being "lynched" by Democrats.

The racially charged word is generally used to refer to the century of abuse and murder people of color endured in the United States.

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Nicolle Wallace explains why ‘Donald Trump’s impeachment may have been turbocharged today’

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace broke down how impeachment was "turbocharged" by explosive testimony from former Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

"Donald Trump’s impeachment may have been turbocharged today by the testimony of career diplomat Bill Taylor, who NBC News is reporting draws a direct line to President Trump demanding an investigation in exchange for military aid for Ukraine," Wallace reported.

The "Deadline: White House" host read a quote from The Washington Post.

"The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told lawmakers Tuesday that President Trump made the release of military aid contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain," The Post reported.

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