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Pennsylvania judge to hear arguments on moving Cosby criminal trial

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Lawyers for comedian Bill Cosby return to court on Monday to argue that his sexual assault case has drawn too much publicity to allow for a fair criminal trial in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill will hear arguments on what appears to be the only major pretrial issue remaining in Cosby’s sexual assault case, three days after he ruled that prosecutors can call a second accuser as a witness. The trial is scheduled for June.

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Cosby, 79, is facing charges that he sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, a former assistant basketball coach at his alma mater Temple University, in 2004.

The case is the only criminal prosecution resulting from accusations against the entertainer by more than four dozen women, though the deluge of allegations has shattered his once family-friendly reputation.

Cosby has denied any wrongdoing and has said his encounter with Constand, like the others, was consensual.

Cosby’s lawyers have argued in court papers for either moving the trial to another Pennsylvania county, known as a change in venue, or importing jurors to Montgomery County from elsewhere in the state, known as a change in venire.

The defense noted that Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who is leading the prosecution, campaigned in 2015 by criticizing a predecessor for failing to pursue the Cosby case. The resulting news coverage has made selecting an impartial jury from the county impossible, they argued.

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Prosecutors oppose moving the trial but have consented to a change in venire. However, they have balked at Cosby’s suggestion that only a county with more than 1.2 million people can yield a large enough jury pool to ensure fairness.

In court filings, Steele has pointed out that only Pittsburgh and Philadelphia meet that criterion and said the defense appears to be shopping for a favorable jury.

Under state law, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court selects the new county when a judge approves a change of venire.

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On Friday, in a blow to Cosby’s defense, O’Neill ruled that prosecutors could call at trial another woman who has accused him of a similar assault in the 1990s. The district attorney’s office had sought to call as many as 13 other women.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Trump team ‘is as incompetent, shambolic, paranoid, and given to conspiracy theories as it appears’: MSNBC panel

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In a Sunday evening panel discussion, MSNBC commentators explained that the White House appears to be just as chaotic and marred by chaos as the rumors say.

Many in the White House learned that the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was working overseas in Ukraine. Giuliani claimed that he's been producing a film that he couldn't get Fox News to run, as it will appear on the fringe network OAN.

"What Rudy Giuliani is doing is using Kremlin-manufactured propaganda as a defensive shield for the president," said CNBC's John Harwood. "Fiona Hill was unambiguous in her testimony to the intelligence committee. What Rudy Giuliani has been doing with these two indicted men who are linked to a Russian oligarch who is tied to Russian organized crime, is trying to manufacture a story that Ukraine, rather than Russia or in addition to Russia or differently from Russia, meddle in the campaign. That is false."

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Watch Devin Nunes freak out and eject reporters when asked about phone calls with Lev Parnas

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) lost it over the weekend when he was asked about his phone calls with Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas, who was recently indicted.

Nunes was at a Republican Party fundraiser in New York City when two Intercept reporters asked about the impeachment probe. Recent phone records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee revealed that Nunes had multiple conversations with Giuliani and with Parnas.

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Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages

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MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.

The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.

Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.

"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

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