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BUSTED: Pence made press wait in van so he could leave game early for taxpayer-funded stunt, NBC reports

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Vice President Mike Pence left the Indianapolis Colts NFL game early on Sunday after players kneeled during the national anthem as a protest against systemic racism — but many people suspect the White House of orchestrating the stunt at the expense of taxpayers.

In a tweet on Sunday, NBC’s Peter Alexander reported that Pence’s press pool was ordered to wait outside the game because the vice president had planned to leave early.

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Speaking on MSNBC, Alexander explained why many people were dubious about Pence’s departure from the game, beginning with the fact that Trump admitted that it was his idea in a tweet praising Pence.

“The vice president was just in Las Vegas speaking about the desire for unity in this country,” Alexander noted. “Then he flew last night in Indianapolis with the sole purpose of going to this football game… where his team would be playing the San Francisco 49ers, the team where Colin Kaepernick obviously began this entire situation by taking a knee last season during the national anthem.”

“So, Pence went to the game, as soon as he saw someone take a knee, he left,” he continued. “And as we understand right now, he’s already on a plane in route to Los Angeles for a political fundraiser.”

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Alexander also pointed out that Pence may have offended many Americans by using taxpayer money for a “political stunt.”

“The president and the vice president had come up with a way that they believe is the best way to communicate this stand,” the NBC reporter remarked. “But it’s obviously a divisive issue, with many people insisting these players deserve their right to free expression.”

“Among the questions right now to be answered is, was this a political stunt as many people suggest?” Alexander added. “And the bottom line is, is the vice president as a government official allowed to use taxpayer money to fly into a place like Indiana for what many people view as a political stunt.”

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Watch the video below from MSNBC.


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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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Judge blocking release of Jeffrey Epstein records has ties to officials linked to Epstein: report

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On Saturday, the Miami Herald reported that a judge who blocked the release of grand jury material in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex abuse case has ties to three officials with a vested interest in the outcome of the lawsuits surrounding the scandal.

"Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges," wrote Julie Brown, a reporter who has extensively covered the Epstein case.

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WATCH: Buffalo cops and firefighters cheer officers charged with assault as they leave the courthouse

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According to a report from both CNN and MSNBC, the two Buffalo police officers who were charged with second-degree assault after shoving a 75-year-old anti-police brutality protester to the ground where he sustained head injuries were greeted with applause after they were arraigned on Saturday morning.

MSNBC's Alex Witt noted that both officers were released without having to post bail.

According to ABC News, "Officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault during their video arraignments on Saturday and were released on their own recognizance. They both entered no guilty pleas and are expected back in court on July 20."

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