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GOP senator faceplants trying to explain his vote to lift sanctions on Russian oligarch linked to election meddling

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South Dakota Republican Mike Rounds in a Thursday appearance on CNN had trouble defending his vote to lift sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has been implicated in efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Asked pointedly by host Jim Sciutto why he had cast that vote, Rounds began stumbling right out of the gate.

“The original, uh, the original limitations that were put on the businesses that he is actively involved with was designed to change his behavior,” Rounds sputtered. He added that both the Senate Intelligence and Banking committees had signed off on it. “We don’t like it, we wish we had another alternative, but if we don’t lift it, we’re not following our own law.”

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“To be fair, those limitations are not as severe as the secretary described them,” shot back Sciutto, citing reporting from the New York Times that showing that Deripaska and his allies would keep a majority stake in the sanctioned businesses. “How is that a fair punishment for an ally of the Russian president who helped Russia interfere in the U.S. Presidential election?”

Rounds then pivoted and said that the vote had been based on inaccurate information, and promised “to take another look at it.”

Watch the video below.


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’Let ‘em go’: Ex-police commissioner lays into Buffalo cops who quit Emergency Response Team

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On CNN Friday, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey slammed the 57 Buffalo police officers who resigned from the city's Emergency Response Team in solidarity with a pair of officers investigated for shoving an elderly man to the ground and then lying about it.

"If they want to resign, they should resign from the department," said Ramsey. "They don't have a vote in what unit they're in or the running of that department. They would not be allowed to step down from those positions. If they want to resign from the police department, let 'em go, and I would not bring them back, it just means you have some slots you have to fill. That kind of stuff is ridiculous and can't be tolerated."

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2020 Election

Trump accused by ex-Defense Secretary of putting US on ‘the trail toward a dictatorship’

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During an appearance on CNN on Friday morning, former Defense Secretary William Cohen - who also served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican -- denounced Donald Trump in no uncertain terms, saying his use of military personnel against anti-police brutality protesters is a sign he has set the country on the path to a dictatorship.

To emphasize his point, he later called Trump the "dictator-in-chief."

Speaking with host Jim Sciutto, Cohen didn't mince words after the CNN host noted that the president and his former attorney called the protesters "terrorists."

"What does it mean for you to hear a sitting president dismissing a whole range of protesters, who in fact were largely peaceful around the White House, dismissing a whole range of them as terrorists? What does that mean to you?" the CNN host asked.

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Richmond mayor schools white lawmaker complaining removal of Confederate statue strips her of her history

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Appearing on CNN's "New Day" on Friday morning, the mayor of Richmond, Virginia set a white state lawmaker straight over her comments that the imminent removal of a statue commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee was erasing her history.

Speaking with host John Berman, Mayor Levar Stoney expressed pleasure at the upcoming removal of the massive statue, saying it was a long overdue -- before the interview turned to comments made by State Senator Amanda Chase (R) made in a Facebook post.

Noting that the white lawmaker complained, "Let's be honest here, there is an overt effort here to erase all-white history," Stoney had a few words for the lawmaker.

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