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Arkansas governor to spare inmate previously set to die in April

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson declared on Friday that he intended to grant clemency to a death row inmate who was among four of eight prisoners in the state whose scheduled April executions were halted by court orders.

The clemency order would convert the death sentence of Jason McGehee, 41, to life without the possibility of parole, the governor said in a statement.

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“In making this decision, I considered many factors, including the entire trial transcript, meetings with members of the victim’s family and the recommendation of the Parole Board,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson noted that neither of McGehee’s two co-defendants in the 1996 beating death of John Melbourne Jr. were sentenced to death, which he said also influenced his decision, and which the state’s Parole Board cited in its clemency recommendation about three weeks before McGehee was set to die on April 27.

Under the state’s procedure, Hutchinson’s announcement triggers a 30-day comment period after which he will sign a proclamation making the clemency official, spokesman J.R. Davis said. McGehee would be the first death row inmate to receive clemency from Hutchinson, who held office since 2015, he added.

At the same time, Hutchinson scheduled a Nov. 9 execution date for another death row inmate, Jack Gordon Greene, who was convicted of a 1991 murder.

In a move that “deeply troubled” the United Nations human rights office, Hutchinson had scheduled an unprecedented eight executions – two per day on four separate days – over a 10-day period in April. But the state put only four inmates to death after courts blocked the other four executions.

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Hutchinson said at the time that the expedited schedule was needed because a difficult-to-obtain drug in the state’s lethal injection mix would expire at the end of the month.

McGehee’s execution was blocked by U.S. District Judge J.P. Marshall on April 6, which the state did not appeal.

Hutchinson noted that the presiding judge at McGehee’s trial also recommended clemency over the objections of the county prosecutor and sheriff.

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McGehee’s attorney, federal public defender John Williams, hailed the clemency decision, saying “Jason’s case offers a prime example of why clemency is a necessary part of capital sentencing.”

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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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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