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Protesters topple Confederate soldier statue in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Protesters toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier on the campus of University of North Carolina on Monday, the latest move to dismantle Civil War symbols amid a fierce debate about race and the legacy of slavery in the United States.

About 300 demonstrators gathered at the base of Silent Sam, a memorial to the Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War, at about 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) to hold a protest and march. About two hours later, the statue, which had been standing on the Chapel Hill campus since 1913, was on the ground, local media reported.

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Protesters pulled the statue with rope and threw dirt on it, local media reported. The statue was face down in the mud with dirt on the back of its head and its back, according to a Reuters eyewitness.

“Tonight’s actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured,” the school said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage.”

The efforts by civil rights groups and others to do away with Confederate monuments such as Silent Sam gained momentum three years ago after avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting rampage ultimately led to the removal of a Confederate flag from the statehouse in Columbia.

Since then, more than 110 symbols of the Confederacy have been removed across the nation with more than 1,700 still standing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many Americans see such statues as symbols of racism and glorifications of the southern states’ defense of slavery in the Civil War, but others view them as important symbols of American history.

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Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger


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Laughter breaks out inside hearing room as Dem mocks GOP’s attempts to downplay smear campaign against Yovanovitch

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During the second public House impeachment hearing this Friday, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) took a dig at President Trump in light of testimony from former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who recounted how she became the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, along with the help of the right-wing news media. After her ouster from her position, Yovanovitch returned to Washington and took up a role as a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

"It's like a Hallmark movie -- you ended up at Georgetown. This is all okay," Quigley said sarcastically, prompting laughter from the room.

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Press secretary claims Trump tweet ‘not witness intimidation’ because it is ‘not a trial’ — but president says it is

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White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham says President Donald Trump did not engage in witness intimidation Friday morning when he, in real time, posted tweets attacking his former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovich, during her testimony before a House impeachment inquiry hearing. Trump is being accused by Democrats and Republicans alike of witness intimidation or witness tampering, with even Fox News anchors saying Trump’s tweets constitute an additional article of impeachment.

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GOP lawmaker ducks question after Yovanovitch asks why it was necessary to smear her reputation

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Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on Friday got more than he bargained for while questioning former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Toward the end of his questioning, Wenstrup argued that President Donald Trump has the power to hire and dismiss ambassadors as he sees fit in order to enact his preferred foreign policy.

"The president has the right to make their own foreign policy and to make his own decisions, and with that I yield back," he said.

Yovanovitch, however, was unwilling to let it end there and she asked to supplement her testimony.

"While I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation?" she asked Wenstrup.

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