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US Senator Amy Klobuchar to query Facebook about report on treatment of critics

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A Democratic U.S. senator said on Thursday she will ask Facebook Inc and the Justice Department about a media report that the company hired an outside firm to attack critics, warning that such action could raise campaign finance issues.

Senator Amy Klobuchar told the Senate Judiciary Committee she would send a letter seeking details about a New York Times article that named the Minnesota Democrat as a target of an aggressive Facebook lobbying campaign.

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Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The article said Facebook conducted an aggressive campaign to combat critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and fend off new regulations contained in proposed legislation that Klobuchar supports.

“This is a pretty serious matter for those of us on the receiving line,” Klobuchar told the committee.

“I would like to know what was going on with elected officials,” she said. “If they in fact were taking actions against critics, this could be a campaign finance issue… It could also have other legal ramifications.”

If Facebook spent money trying to influence the outcome of an election, it would have been required to disclose that spending to the Federal Election Commission and failure to do so would be a violation of the law. However, recent Supreme Court rulings have given companies leeway, requiring that they directly call for someone to be elected, or lose their office, to trigger the campaign finance laws.

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The Times report said Facebook hired a Republican opposition research firm to discredit activist protesters and lobbied a Jewish civil rights group to cast some critics of the company as anti-Semitic.

Its issue with Klobuchar involved legislation known as the Honest Ads Act, which she has supported along with Democratic Senator Mark Warner and the late Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. The bill would compel Facebook and other internet firms to disclose the sponsors of political ads on their websites.

Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Dan Grebler

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Chuck Schumer wants John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney to testify at Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants top administration officials to testify in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the United States Senate.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass articles of impeachment on Wednesday, setting up a Senate trial in the new year.

"In a letter sent on Sunday evening to McConnell, the majority leader, Schumer says Senate Democrats want to hear testimony from four administration witnesses, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton," Politico reported. "There is almost no chance Senate Republicans would vote to subpoena those witnesses without assent from the White House and calling their own preferred witnesses."

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Supreme Court timeline on Trump’s taxes gives time for Manhattan prosecutors to file charges: Former US Attorney

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Former U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah tweeted a recent report that the U.S. Supreme Court would be taking up President Donald Trump's case to keep his taxes away from investigators.

That case between Trump and Congress invokes a 1924 law that says the Ways and Means Committee has the authority to seek tax returns. Rocah mocked the president for being "so shady, so corrupt, so unlawful, that you’re willing to fight the release of your tax returns all the way to the Supreme Court."

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Trump has spent 50 years trying to live up to his father — now his presidency will forever be stained: MSNBC panelist

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Rev. Al Sharpton said during his MSNBC show Sunday that the legacy of impeachment will forever be a stain on President Donald Trump's presidency. While a Democratic strategist pointed to Trump's history of always falling short.

"The fact is I've known Donald Trump for 35 years," Sharpton said during a panel discussion. "Marched on him after the Central Park Five. Had other times he would try to be a Democrat, would come to our National Action Network conventions. One of the things that is core to him is that he's always fought for legitimacy. He was never looked at as a peer by the legitimate business community in New York and around the country. Now for him to be impeached, even if he's not convicted and removed, it gives him the imprimatur from here out that he's illegitimate. There will always be the asterisk on his name that schoolchildren will read. Is this the reason we're seeing 170-some-odd tweets from Mr. Trump that he is feeling at the core that his legitimacy as a president will be permanently stained?"

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