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President Trump poised to endorse US House prison reform bill

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President Donald Trump was poised to endorse a new version of a bipartisan U.S. House bill on Wednesday that would reform the federal prison system to help inmates prepare for life after their release, but the legislation still faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The original version of the First Step Act, which was co-sponsored by Republican Doug Collins of Georgia and Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York, passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives in May with a vote of 360-59.

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The version of the First Step Act that passed in May directs the federal Bureau of Prisons to do risk assessments on which inmates should qualify and earn credits toward completing their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement.

It also broadens employment opportunities for inmates and expands laws on compassionate release for the terminally ill, among other things.

Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley has been pushing his own criminal justice reform bill now for years that is more comprehensive than the original House version because it would also reduce harsh prison sentences for non-violent offenders.

Earlier this year, Grassley was stunned when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a scathing letter condemning the legislation as a “grave error” that would reduce prison terms for “a highly dangerous cohort of criminals.”

Sessions’ opposition led to a major feud with Grassley, who accused him of working behind the scenes with the White House to kill his bill even after Grassley had defended Sessions when Trump wanted to fire him for recusing himself from the Russia probe.

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The original House bill has also met with some resistance from liberal Democrats in the House including anticipated incoming House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who voted against it because he said it did not go far enough.

Trump forced Sessions to resign last week and replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

A U.S. House aide familiar with negotiations on the bill said he believes the Senate may still not have the votes to pass it.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Chris Sanders and Clive McKeef


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Trump Twitter rages against impeachment testimony: ‘Star witnesses unable to answer the question!’

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President Donald Trump tweeted out a reaction to Day One of the impeachment hearings he claimed he hadn't watched.

The president insisted Wednesday afternoon, during a meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, that he hadn't watched "one minute" of the first public testimony, by two State Department witnesses -- but he reacted the following day on Twitter.

"(Rep. John Ratcliffe) asked the two 'star' witnesses, 'where is the impeachable event in that call?'" Trump tweeted. "Both stared straight ahead with a blank look on their face, remained silent, & were unable to answer the question. That would be the end of a case run by normal people! - but not Shifty!"

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GOP’s ‘chaotic’ first day fighting impeachment revealed they’re overwhelmed by evidence against Trump: Ex-prosecutor

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The House Republican strategy for the first day of public impeachment hearings showed they knew Democrats were playing a strong hand, and they didn't.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, writing for Politico, explained how GOP lawmakers tried to confuse jurors -- in this case, the public and their counterparts in the Senate -- by talking about Hunter Biden or Javelin missiles because they wanted to distract from the strong evidence tying President Donald Trump to an extortion scheme.

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Trump’s latest and most ludicrous con job

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Donald Trump is con artist in chief of the United States. His many apparent and impeachable crimes, such as the Ukraine scandal, collusion with Russia and violations of the Emoluments Clause, flow from that fact. Of course, Trump’s long con involves millions and perhaps even billions of dollars. But Trump’s big score, his ultimate goal, is permanent control of the presidency of the United States and the power for him and his family and allies to engage in legal theft indefinitely.

This article first appeared on Salon.

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