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All defendants in the Oregon standoff found not guilty

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A federal court jury on Thursday acquitted anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of a U.S. wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year.

Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a legitimate and patriotic act of civil disobedience. Prosecutors called it a lawless scheme to seize federal property by force.

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(READ MORE: Ammon Bundy’s attorney Tased and arrested after Oregon standoff verdict)

In an emotional climax to the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus Mumford, was tackled to the floor by U.S. marshals as he became involved in a heated verbal exchange with the judge over the terms of his client’s release.

Moments earlier, gasps of astonishment rose from the packed courtroom. Attorneys exchanged looks of excitement with the defendants, then hugged their clients as the not-guilty verdicts were read. Family members and supporters of the accused erupted in jubilation.

Outside the courthouse, supporters celebrated by shouting “Hallelujah” and reading passes from the U.S. Constitution. One man road his horse, named Lady Liberty, in front of the courthouse carrying an American flag.

The verdict came hours after a newly reconstituted jury, with an alternate seated to replace one panelist dismissed over questions of bias on Wednesday, renewed deliberations in the case. Jurors previously had deliberated over three days.

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The 12-member panel found the Bundy brothers and their four co-defendants – three men and a woman – not guilty of the most serious charge, conspiracy to impede federal officers through intimidation, threats or force.

That charge alone carried a maximum penalty of six years in prison.

The defendants also were unanimously acquitted of illegal possession of firearms in a federal facility and of theft of government property, except in the case of Ryan Bundy, for whom jurors deadlocked on the charge of theft.

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During the takeover and at trial, the occupiers said they acted out of solidarity with two Oregon ranchers they believed were unfairly treated in an arson case and to protest their larger grievances against federal control over millions of acres of public lands in the West.

(READ MORE: ‘Sad day for America’: Internet furious about #OregonStandoff verdict vs. treatment of #BlackLivesMatter and #StandingRock)

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ONE DEATH

The standoff led to the shooting death of one protester by police and left parts of the refuge badly damaged.

While a number of self-styled militia groups had rallied to Bundy’s cause, the occupation generated little sympathy from authorities in nearby Harney County. The sheriff called on the group to end its siege peacefully just after three days, telling them, “It’s time for you to leave our community.”

As the protest wore on, the occupiers drew ridicule on social media and anonymous deliveries of sex toys, glitter and nail polish at the compound.

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More than two dozen people, in all, have been criminally charged in the Malheur occupation, and a second group of defendants is due to stand trial in February.

The Bundy brothers still face assault, conspiracy and other charges stemming from a separate armed standoff in 2014 at the Nevada ranch of their father, Cliven Bundy.

How soon any of the seven defendants from the trial concluded on Thursday would be released was not immediately clear.

(Reporting by Scott Bransford in Portland; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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‘He doesn’t care about those kids at all’: Anderson Cooper tears into Trump for pressuring schools to reopen

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On CNN Wednesday, Anderson Cooper blasted President Donald Trump's attempts to push schools to reopen without a plan to keep students safe.

"Today the president of the United States did something rare: he expressed a notion that we can all agree on, that kids belong in the classroom," said Cooper. "But then made it quite clear beyond what it means to himself and his re-election, he doesn't actually care about those kids at all. He doesn't care about their health and safety, nor the health of their teachers and parents, and federal guidelines for keeping them safe."

"The president bragged today about getting the CDC to change their guidelines to weaken them, and lo and behold, the CDC, which used to be a world-respected organization, they are going to come up with new guidelines, less difficult ones," said Cooper. "Just think about that. The CDC puts together guidelines based on science to protect kids and teachers, staying six feet apart and masks and having air flow in rooms and washing hands, and because the president thinks it's too difficult, the CDC is going to weaken them."

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New attack featuring Trump’s sexual comments about his daughters spurs #CreepyTrump hashtag trend

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President Donald Trump's comments about women have been bad enough, but when it comes to his comments about his own daughters, it gets even worse.

As a baby, Trump was already thinking about whether his second daughter, Tiffany, would have breasts like her mother. In appearances on "The View" and "The Wendy Williams Show," Trump talked about how he wishes he could date his first daughter Ivanka and that "sex" is something they have in common.

The bizarre statements add to the strange videos of Trump watching young women dance with his friend Jeffrey Epstein. Ultimately, Epstein was arrested after years of sex with underage children.

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2020 Election

‘This spells disaster’: Columnist says GOP is heading for a wipeout in the Senate — and beyond

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On Wednesday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist Henry Olsen said the electoral signs are getting grimmer for the GOP by the day — for their prospects of maintaining control of the Senate, but also of their seats further down the ballot.

"Elections in both the House and Senate are increasingly syncing with broader presidential races," wrote Olsen. "In 2016, every Senate race was won by the same party that won that state in the presidential contest. In 2018, House races largely correlated with Trump’s approval rating, with even the most popular GOP incumbents unable to run more than a few points ahead of the president. Polls for Senate races this year show the same trend, with Republican incumbents’ totals closely matched with Trump’s. This spells disaster for the party."

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