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US senators to defy Republican leader on Mueller protections

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Two U.S. senators, defying opposition from top Republicans, vowed on Wednesday to push for action on a bipartisan measure that would protect a federal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons said they would take to the Senate floor at around 4:15 p.m. EST, to ask for their colleagues’ consent to allow a vote that could anger President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the federal probe as a “witch hunt.”

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But the move was unlikely to succeed. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is firmly against the idea of voting on a measure to protect the investigation, according to an aide.

Another party leader, Senate Republican whip John Cornyn, has said he favors an alternative measure that would simply put the Senate on record as backing the leader of the probe, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The effort by Flake and Coons comes a week after Trump set off alarm bells among Democrats and some Republicans by forcing the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replacing him with Sessions’ former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who has criticized the investigation.

Critics of the appointment say Whitaker could fire Mueller or undermine the investigation in some other way.

Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, and Coons want lawmakers to vote on a measure known as the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would ensure that Mueller could be fired only for good cause and provide him with recourse to challenge any dismissal in federal court.

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The legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved in a 14-7 vote in April, is supported by the panel’s chairman Chuck Grassley and another prominent Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham.

Democrats have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department said on Monday night that Whitaker would consult with ethics officials about any matters that could require him to recuse himself.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Andrea Ricci

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Trump is a vampire who feeds off his own followers — and no one deserved to be drained more than Jeff Sessions

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Former senator and disgraced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally come, at age 73, to what is almost certainly the end of the road for his villainous political career. On Tuesday night, the right-wing Republican who served as a U.S. senator from 1997 to 2017 lost in his comeback attempt, defeated in the Republican primary for his old seat by Tommy Tuberville, a man whose cartoonish name better suited his previous career as head football coach at Auburn. The runoff election between the two wasn't even close, with the Riverboat Gambler (a silly and self-serious nickname for Tuberville, especially when "The Tubz" was right there for the taking) taking more than 60% of the vote.

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‘Top Gun’ helmet and ‘Alien’ spaceship in Hollywood props auction

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Maverick's fighter jet helmet, Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber, Rocky's boxing gloves and an 11-foot "Alien" spaceship tipped to fetch half a million dollars will go up for auction in Los Angeles next month.

The sale of hundreds of legendary Hollywood movie props will be live-streamed on August 26-27, including items wielded by Indiana Jones and Clint Eastwood's Western outlaw Josey Wales.

A giant model of "Nostromo," the interstellar tug-ship on which Ridley Scott's classic "Alien" takes place, tops the pre-sale estimates at $300,000-500,000.

Constructed mainly of wood and steel, it was personally filmed for the movie's exterior shots by Scott, who had it "repainted dark gray and weathered extensively to imply decades of deep-space travel," said event organizers Prop Store.

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‘Complete and utter moron’: Anti-mask Republican derided after he ‘dismantles himself’ amid grilling from CNN host

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Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) is facing a backlash online after appearing Wednesday on CNN to argue against mask mandates, which are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sabatini told CNN host Brianna Keilar that mask mandates were a violation of Florida's constitution. "This is something government has never done before. We've never had government telling people what you have to do with your own face," he said.

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