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In restarting the federal death penalty, AG William Barr looks to Texas

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The federal death penalty hasn’t been carried out since 2003. Now the U.S. attorney general wants to adopt the method used in Texas executions to put five men to death.

In reviving the rarely used federal death penalty, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday it would use the same lethal drug Texas uses in its executions.

Ordering five executions in December and January, U.S. Attorney General William Barr told the federal prisons bureau to adopt an execution method “which closely mirrors” the protocol used in Texas, Georgia and Missouri. A federal death sentence has not been carried out since 2003, when an unofficial moratorium began as questions arose over the constitutionality of lethal injection. There have only been three federal executions in the modern era.

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The new protocol replaces the controversial three-drug lethal injection combinationwith the method that Texas has had since 2012 — using only pentobarbital, a sedative. Texas purchases the drug from compounding pharmacies kept secret from the public, where drugs are mixed without federal regulation. The state has used pentobarbital in 79 executions.

Lethal drugs have become hard for states to obtain in the last decade. In 2011, drug manufacturers began blocking their products from being used in lethal injections, making states across the country, including Texas, scramble to find new execution drugs. In recent years, states have either stopped executions because they can’t obtain lethal doses or tried untested, controversial mixtures — sometimes resulting in gruesome deaths.

Compounding pharmacies, whose identities have been shielded from the public recently under Texas law, have allowed the state to continue carrying out by far the most executions in the country. Thirteen men were put to death in Texas last year; the state with the second most executions, Tennessee, had three, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

After purchasing several new batches of pentobarbital in recent years — as well as pushing back expiration dates of doses in stock — the Texas prison system has 27 lethal doses, more than enough to cover the 10 executions on the schedule this year, according to records obtained by The Texas Tribune. Its supply puts Texas in contrast with most other states, which still struggle to obtain the drugs.

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Barr’s announcement did not indicate how the federal government would obtain lethal drugs or from where, but it said the new protocol is “clearing the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment after a nearly two decade lapse, and bringing justice to victims of the most horrific crimes.”

Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, only three men have been executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center: Timothy McVeigh in 2001 for the Oklahoma City bombing, Juan Raul Garza about a week later for the Texas murders of three drug traffickers and Louis Jones in 2003 for the Texas murder of a female soldier.

On Thursday, Barr ordered executions in five cases in which children and elderly people were killed — including a Texas case. Alfred Bourgeois was federally sentenced to death in 2004, after being convicted in the torture, sexual molestation and death of his 2-year-old daughter at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. His execution is scheduled for Jan. 13.

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The four other men set for execution are Daniel Lewis Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, Wesley Ira Purkey and Dustin Lee Honken. They all were found guilty in the killings of minors, with all but Bourgeois convicted in multiple deaths.

BY JOLIE MCCULLOUGH


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‘Should we talk about Ivanka?’: MSNBC guest calls for Trump family investigation if Biden’s son is scrutinized

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During a panel discussion on Donald Trump's call for an investigation of Joe Biden's son Hunter over his Ukraine dealings, an "AM Joy" guest said if Congress is going to investigate politician's kids why not start with Ivanka Trump and her brothers Don Jr. and Eric.

Speaking with MSNBC host Joy Reid, Intercept columnist Mehdi Hasan called out President Donald Trump for his "brazenness" going after the former vice president's son.

"There's so much to say about this story, as for the Ukrainian denials, what are they going to do, come out and say, 'Yes, Donald Trump did pressure our president eight times in a single phone call'? It's absurd." Hasan began.

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Lindsey Graham drives bus over Trump kids to get to Biden: ‘You can’t investigate one family and not the other’

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested on Sunday that the children of both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be investigated.

While speaking to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Graham was asked if he is calling for an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son over dealings in the Ukraine. President Donald Trump allegedly also asked Ukraine's president for help with the Bidens.

"Yeah, I want the Department of Justice to appoint somebody to look at the role the Ukraine played if any in the 2016 elections," Graham told Bartiromo. "There are a lot of allegations out there how Ukraine fed information maybe to the Democrats."

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Entire CNN panel beats down Santorum for Ukraine misinformation: ‘You don’t get to decide what the facts are’

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Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum was called out on Sunday after he seemed to be uneducated about President Donald Trump's attempt to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son.

During a panel discussion on CNN, Republican contributor Mia Love said that Trump's communication with Ukraine was not "appropriate" if he was looking for campaign help.

"There is no equivalence between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and what this president has allegedly done," Democratic consultant Karen Finney noted. "The things that were investigated against the Bidens [were] shelved, totally debunked."

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