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Judge blocks mental health testimony for South Carolina church shooting suspect

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A federal judge said on Tuesday he would not allow defense lawyers to present evidence about Dylann Roof’s mental health to jurors weighing his guilt in the June 2015 massacre at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Roof’s lawyers have not disputed that the avowed white supremacist shot and killed nine black parishioners during a Bible study and asked to call witnesses to testify about his state of mind and personal characteristics.

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The motion listing the witnesses was sealed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, who said in court they included a police officer and someone with whom Roof had a business interaction, objected to the proposed testimony as “self-serving hearsay” and “justification.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that such evidence must wait until the penalty phase, when prosecutors plan to seek a death sentence.

The defense is hoping jurors will spare Roof, 22, from execution. He has indicated he will represent himself during the trial’s sentencing phase.

Roof is not asserting an insanity defense and was found competent to stand trial on federal charges of hate crimes resulting in death, obstruction of religion and firearms violations, Gergel noted in a written order on Monday.

He is scheduled to stand trial in state court early next year on murder charges for the massacre.

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Tuesday marked the fifth day of testimony in the federal case in Charleston. Jurors have viewed Roof’s video confession and the racist manifesto he posted online before the shooting in which he railed against blacks and Jews and promoted his ideology of white superiority.

Prosecutors said they expect to finish their case on Wednesday with eyewitness testimony from Polly Sheppard, who was at the church but not killed because Roof said he wanted her tell what he had done.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)

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‘Trump was caught’: Every major GOP excuse for president’s conduct destroyed by ex-prosecutor

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Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said Thursday's marathon impeachment hearing left her "shouting" at her television, so she gathered her thoughts and blew up Republican defenses one by one.

McQuade, an MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, exposed the weaknesses in each of the GOP's sometimes contradictory defenses of President Donald Trump against impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Here are the GOP defenses I have heard so far to articles of impeachment, along with the knee-jerk responses I have been shouting at my television.

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‘Selfie-seeking frat boy’ Matt Gaetz scorched in brutal takedown after House committee blow-up

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In a brutally blunt look at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the New Republic's Jacob Bacharach paints a portrait of a publicity-seeking Washington newcomer storming the nation's capital with an eye on mirroring the actions and rhetoric of the blustery president that he slavishly defends.

Following Gaetz's "drama queen" performances while serving on the House Judiciary Committee, Bacharach recalls, "On October 23, a gaggle of House Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz of Florida, stormed the Capitol’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Gaetz had hoped to expose the supposedly secretive nature of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. “Stormed” was his own overly dramatic word (though Gaetz soon topped it by comparing his crew to the 300 glorious, nearly naked Spartans who, as you may recall, lost to a numerically superior force during the Battle of Thermopylae). A more accurate description would be to say they barged into a committee room like a bunch of entitled fussbudgets, argued with the committee chairman, took selfies, and then trundled off to hold a press conference."

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2020 Election

How the ‘liberal’ media put Trump in the White House

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The American mainstream news media made many mistakes in its coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

It treated Donald Trump as a harmless curiosity because he was a reality TV show star and professional (alleged) billionaire.

Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings — both real and perceived — were amplified. Trump’s were downplayed if not largely ignored.

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