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Kansas militia men blame Trump rhetoric for mosque attack plan

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Three Kansas militia members who were convicted of plotting to bomb the mosque and homes of Somali immigrants should be granted leniency in their sentencing because they were inspired by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric encouraging violence, lawyers for the men said in court documents.

The defense lawyers, in filings made in federal court in Kansas, said the court had to acknowledge Trump’s “rough-and-tumble verbal pummeling” in the 2016 election campaign that “heightened the rhetorical stakes for people of all political persuasions.”

One of the lawyers said that Trump continued to stoke Islamophobia.

The sentencing memorandums, filed on Monday and Tuesday, are just the latest instances of people blaming Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric for encouraging right-wing extremists.

A federal jury in April convicted Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. The attack, planned for the day after the 2016 election in Garden City, Kansas, was thwarted by another member of the group who informed authorities.

Prosecutors are seeking life terms for all three men when they are sentenced in November.

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Attorneys James Pratt and Michael Shultz, representing Stein, said Trump appealed to “lost and ignored white, working-class men” like their client, who was “an early and avid supporter” of the president.

“The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president,” the lawyers wrote in their sentencing memorandum for Stein.

Had the three not been arrested, Trump’s surprising victory would likely have led them to call off their attack as an orderly transition from President Barack Obama to Trump would have largely disproved their conspiracy theories, the attorneys said.

Kari Schmidt and Tyler Emerson, lawyers representing Wright, said Trump continued to stoke Islamophobia, recently tweeting that “unknown Middle Easterners” were in a migrant caravan heading to the U.S. border from Honduras, and calling it an “invasion.”

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“As long as the Executive Branch condemns Islam and commends and encourages violence against would-be enemies, then a sentence imposed by the Judicial Branch does little to deter people generally from engaging in such conduct if they believe they are protecting their countries from enemies identified by their own Commander-in-Chief,” they wrote in a sentencing memorandum for Wright.

Reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Leslie Adler

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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2020 Election

Here are 5 reasons why 2020’s down-ballot races could reshape America’s future

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The political press always tends to focus mostly on the marquee race for the White House but that's especially true this cycle, as Donald Trump runs for a second term. He demands attention and his antics enrage his opponents and delight his supporters in equal measure.

But national reporters risk missing the big picture by centering so much of their reporting at the top when many of the most important political battles in 2020 will take place further down the ballot.

Trump is catnip for reporters and their editors, but the dearth of coverage of downballot races didn't begin with his election. As the news media in general faces structural changes—with print circulation declining and much of their work moving into digital spaces that are more difficult to monetize--publishers have cut back on reporters assigned to the state and local government beat. Nevertheless, Trump has arguably worsened the trend by getting so much airtime— one estimate suggested that over the past four years, Trump has taken up, on average, 15 percent of the entire daily news cycle on the three leading cable networks, nearly three times what Obama did.

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2020 Election

WATCH: Katie Porter explains to constituents why her conscience demands support for Trump impeachment inquiry

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Congresswoman Katie Porter, in a video posted on social media Monday night, shared with residents of her purple California district why she is joining dozens of other Democrats who support launching an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

"I didn't come to Congress to impeach the president," said the first-term representative. "But when faced with a crisis of this magnitude, I cannot with a clean conscience ignore my duty to defend the Constitution. I can't claim to be committed to rooting out corruption and putting people over politics and then not apply those same principles and standards in all of the work I do."

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2020 Election

Bernie Sanders calls fact that minimum wage worker cannot afford 2-bedroom apartment in any US state ‘a national disgrace’

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For a decade, U.S. lawmakers have kept the federal minimum wage at a level which increasingly leaves workers unable to afford housing.

That's according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). The group's 30th annual study of housing affordability found that a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25—which is unchanged since 2009—cannot afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment in any state, metropolitan area, or county in the United States.

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