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Father pleads guilty in New York church beating that killed son

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A New York state man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to taking part in a mass church beating that killed one of his teenage sons and injured another, a court spokeswoman said.

Bruce Leonard, 66, pleaded guilty in Utica County Court to first- and second-degree assault in the October 2015 attack in which his sons were pummeled for more than 10 hours with fists and whipped with an extension cord.

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As part of the plea agreement, Leonard will testify against the seven other people accused in the case, the spokeswoman said. He will be sentenced on Sept. 9.

Leonard had been charged with murder, gang assault and kidnapping in the attack that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and put another son, Christopher Leonard, 17, in the hospital.

The attack took place during a counseling session at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, a small town about 100 miles (160 km) west of Albany. Christopher Leonard said in a court hearing last year that he and his brother were assaulted because Lucas intended to leave the church.

The youths’ mother, Deborah Leonard, pleaded guilty in December to assault charges in exchange for her testimony against the other defendants, including church pastor Tiffanie Irwin.

The trial of Sarah Ferguson, a half-sister of the victims who is accused of second-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges, will begin on Thursday, the spokeswoman said.

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(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)


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Donald Trump whines ‘it’s not fair I’m being impeached’

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President Donald Trump said Friday that he was fine with a "longer" impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate because he wanted to call his own witnesses to appear, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's resistance.

Yet, when he returned to Twitter Friday night, Trump lamented that it wasn't fair he was being impeached.

"It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong! The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of Hate. They are so bad for our Country!" he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1205648124989100033

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It’s hard to argue Trump was innocent when Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine to keep it going: Former US Attorney

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Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained Friday that it's difficult for President Donald Trump to claim he is innocent of attempting to bribe Ukraine when his own lawyer just returned from trying to dig up more dirt on the son of his opponent.

"Isn't this what got the president in trouble in the first place?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Bharara.

"Yes, it actually is," Bharara said simply. "I don't know exactly what's going on here. I think Rudy Giuliani wants to be close to the president and help the president and argue on behalf of the president. There are a lot of implications that Rudy Giuliani is doing going on forays back to Ukraine, which some people would call the scene of the crime. It causes more scrutiny to be brought upon him. We've seen reported he's under investigation himself, and I think it raises eyebrows in the political sphere. But I think something important about it relates to impeachment."

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‘Moscow Mitch’ blunder means Donald Trump can never be vindicated: Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for violating a legal principle that has existed for over 1,000 -- and his move means that President Donald Trump can never be vindicated during impeachment.

Tribe, who has taught at Harvard Law School for 50 years and argued 36 cases before the United States Supreme Court, has been advising Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats during the impeachment inquiry. He was interviewed on Friday by MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber.

Tribe said, "what it looks like is that the majority leader is going to conduct this trial as though he's a member of the defense team," Tribe said. "You know, it's an ancient principle, centuries-old -- actually over a millennium old -- that you can't be a judge on your own case and effectively, to allow Donald Trump to call the shots, violates that principle."

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