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Chicago policemen conspired to shield officer convicted of murder: prosecutor

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Three Chicago policemen conspired to protect a fellow officer after he fatally shot a black teenager in 2014, a prosecutor said on Tuesday, even though there was a video of the shooting that helped to convict former officer Jason Van Dyke.

Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said in her opening statement that the defendants, David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney, offered accounts of the deadly incident that conflicted with video evidence. Laquan McDonald, 17, was armed with a knife when he was shot 16 times.

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The defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice. The bench trial is expected to run into next week.

In October, a jury found Van Dyke, who is white, guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of McDonald, in a case that had laid bare tensions between the black community and police.

“Instead of serving and protecting all citizens of Chicago the defendants tried to protect only one – Jason Van Dyke – by trying to create a false justification for the shooting of Laquan McDonald,” Holmes said.

The Van Dyke verdict was the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer was held criminally accountable for the killing of an African American. The conviction followed numerous acquittals or mistrials of police officers facing criminal charges across the country in the deaths of black men.

Defense attorneys said in their opening statements that the prosecution’s case lacks evidence.

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“Whatever your feelings are about Jason Van Dyke, whatever you believe about his actions, that’s different than what these men did and what these men wrote,” James McKay, March’s attorney, said.

A dashboard camera video of McDonald’s shooting prompted days of protests, the ouster of the city’s police superintendent and calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. The clip was released by the city more than a year after the shooting in response to a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit.

Van Dyke, 40, is in jail awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot he fired at McDonald.

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Walsh and March, who was a detective, are no longer with the force. Gaffney was suspended without pay.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Frank McGurty and Matthew Lewis

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Trump team ‘is as incompetent, shambolic, paranoid, and given to conspiracy theories as it appears’: MSNBC panel

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In a Sunday evening panel discussion, MSNBC commentators explained that the White House appears to be just as chaotic and marred by chaos as the rumors say.

Many in the White House learned that the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was working overseas in Ukraine. Giuliani claimed that he's been producing a film that he couldn't get Fox News to run, as it will appear on the fringe network OAN.

"What Rudy Giuliani is doing is using Kremlin-manufactured propaganda as a defensive shield for the president," said CNBC's John Harwood. "Fiona Hill was unambiguous in her testimony to the intelligence committee. What Rudy Giuliani has been doing with these two indicted men who are linked to a Russian oligarch who is tied to Russian organized crime, is trying to manufacture a story that Ukraine, rather than Russia or in addition to Russia or differently from Russia, meddle in the campaign. That is false."

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Watch Devin Nunes freak out and eject reporters when asked about phone calls with Lev Parnas

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) lost it over the weekend when he was asked about his phone calls with Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas, who was recently indicted.

Nunes was at a Republican Party fundraiser in New York City when two Intercept reporters asked about the impeachment probe. Recent phone records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee revealed that Nunes had multiple conversations with Giuliani and with Parnas.

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Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages

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MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.

The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.

Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.

"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

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