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Senate Democrats may refuse to vote on Trump FBI pick: Schumer

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The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate said on Sunday that Democrats would consider refusing to vote on a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is named to investigate President Donald Trump’s potential ties to Russia.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said his caucus has not yet made a decision on whether to withhold their votes, but added that the issue is being looked at as a way to ensure there is a thorough investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

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“To have that special prosecutor, people would breathe a sigh of relief because then there would be a real independent person overlooking the FBI director,” Schumer told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

Trump sparked a political firestorm when he abruptly fired James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week. The FBI has been investigating alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Russia has denied the claims and the White House says there was no collusion.

Trump, who has sought better relations with Russia, has continued to question whether Russia was behind the hacking of email accounts belonging to Democrats involved in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

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But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on Sunday there is no question that “the Russians were playing around in our electoral processes.”

He defended Trump’s decision to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office last week.

“It’s in the interest of the American people, it’s in the interest of Russia and the rest of the world that we do something to see if we cannot improve the relationship between the two greatest nuclear powers in the world,” Tillerson said.

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Democrats have accused Trump of attempting to thwart the FBI’s probe and have called for some type of independent inquiry into the matter.

Trump has said he removed Comey because he was not doing a good job and that Comey lost the support of FBI employees.

The Justice Department began interviewing candidates for the FBI director job on Saturday. Some people under consideration include acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, New York Appeals Court Judge Michael Garcia and former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, according to a White House official.

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If the Senate vote on an FBI director were to break down along strict party lines, Democrats would not have the votes to block a nominee.

Republicans control both chambers of the U.S. Congress. They hold 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, enough to approve a FBI nominee provided that no more than two Republican senators break ranks. In the event of a tie vote, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote.

“The key is getting some of our Republican colleagues to join us,” Schumer said.

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Republican leaders in the Senate have rebuffed calls for a special prosecutor, saying it would interfere with ongoing congressional probes.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Sunday there may come a time when a special prosecutor is needed but not now.

“Right now, it is a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal investigation. So you don’t need a special prosecutor,” Graham said on “Meet the Press.”

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(Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Caren Bohan and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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Facebook bans far-right website from pro-Trump advertising after they try to skirt transparency rules

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On Thursday, NBC News reported that Facebook has banned the Epoch Times from placing political advertisements, after the right-wing website tried to conceal its multimillion-dollar dark money streams and get around the social network's political advertising transparency rules in its propaganda supporting President Donald Trump.

The Epoch Times had tried to skirt rules by running ads under puppet names like "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism," confusing users about who was really behind the ads.

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GOP leaders are pressuring Kansas Republican to resign from Congress immediately: report

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On Thursday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Republicans in Kansas and Washington are pressuring Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) to step down after just eight months in office.

It is currently unclear why they are calling for his resignation.

Watkins has thus far given no indications he will leave office. His spokesman Jim Joice stated that he has no plans to resign, and disputed the idea that Republican officials are pressuring him to do so, but acknowledged there have been conversations around the topic.

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