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Pentagon defeats US cities’ appeal over gun check flaws: court

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A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected an effort by New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco to require the Pentagon to do a better job of reporting service members who were disqualified from owning weapons to a national background check system.

By a 3-0 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia said judges lacked jurisdiction under the federal Administrative Procedure Act to compel the Department of Defense to fix what the cities called a “broken” reporting system, and supervise its progress.

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The cities sued seven weeks after a mass shooting on Nov. 5, 2017, when former Air Force member Devin Kelley killed 26 people at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church before killing himself.

Kelley, 26, had been convicted in a 2012 court martial of assaulting his wife and stepson and should not have been allowed to possess weapons. But his conviction had not been entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The cities said the Pentagon had failed to report some 15,000 current or former military personnel who could not own guns because of court martial convictions or dishonorable discharges, and that this undermined their ability to fight violent crime.

Writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson acknowledged the challenges that cities and towns face in protecting the public from “horrific” violence that is “far too often” committed by people who should not have firearms.

“The municipalities’ efforts to combat these threats are commendable,” Wilkinson wrote. “The APA, however, does not permit their efforts to include judicial supervision of the myriad programmatic workings of the federal government.”

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Spokesmen for New York’s and Philadelphia’s law departments had no immediate comment. San Francisco’s city attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which represented the Pentagon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday’s decision upheld an April 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia.

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The case is City of New York et al v U.S. Department of Defense et al, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 18-1699.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot

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Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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DOJ employees urged to revolt against Bill Barr for throwing IG report ‘in the trash’ to defend Trump

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On MSNBC's "AM Joy," former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne excoriated Attorney General William Barr for his partisan suppression of the inspector general's conclusions about the FBI's Russia investigation.

"Here's the problem. The inspector general has already found that the — the investigation was not motivated in the way that Bill Barr is saying it is, and he's directly taking all the work of all the people and he's throwing it in the trash," said Alksne. "And he's added this other layer of an investigation and now he's broken all the rules, because one of the rules in an investigation is you don't talk about it in the middle, and he's done that. And it's a very threatening thing to the person who did the initial investigation, and it's also a way of putting his thumb on the scale with the guy who's doing the followup investigation, [U.S. Attorney John] Durham. He was talked into issuing a press release that was completely improper."

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2020 Election

GOP ridiculed for hyping Ohio anti-impeachment protest — and only a handful of Trump supporters showed

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The official Twitter of account of the Republican National Committee was buried in mockery after hyping up a video of anti-impeachment protesters in Youngstown, Ohio, where it appears only a handful of people showed up.

According to the tweet, "Ohioans are sick and tired of the Democrats’ impeachment charade. It’s time to STOP THE MADNESS!"

However, in the video from WKBN, which can be seen below, few people chose to show up for the cameras.

As one commenter noted with tongue-in-cheek, "Thought Ohio had a few more people than that."

That was the general consensus in the comments.

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GOP lawmaker scrambles for excuses after being cornered with McConnell’s promise to rig Trump impeachment

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On CNN Saturday, anchor Martin Savidge confronted Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), one of Trump's biggest defenders on cable television, about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's claim that he was "coordinating" the impeachment strategy with the White House.

"Where is the impartiality there?" asked Savidge. "And it has to be a concern because, as you point out, you are an attorney and you would be worried if a member of the jury had already stated how they were going to consider."

"Yeah, we heard those comments yesterday, as everyone did," said Johnson. "You know, I've actually talked about this with some of my Democrat [sic] colleagues, those who are very much in favor of impeachment. I said isn't it a fair description of what he said? The way I heard that, Mitch McConnell is talking about the scheduling of the trial, what length of trial or what would be involved with that, with the White House, which is not unprecedented. That's what happened in the Clinton proceedings as well, they coordinated with the White House on scheduling. I don't think he's talking about the merits of the case. I think he's talking about how long will be allowed for this to go forward so I don't think there's anything inappropriate about that."

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