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GOP Sen. Ben Sasse suddenly dropped his habit of criticizing the president. Trump just showed why.

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Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was once a prominent critic of President Donald Trump from with his own party, using his national platform to criticize the GOP figurehead both before his 2016 election and after.

As late as 2018, Sasse was bemoaning the state of the GOP, saying he thinks about abandoning his Republican Party membership every morning.

But this year, things started to change. Most notably, he voted against an effort block Trump’s use of emergency powers to pilfer government funds for his border wall, a move that should have rankled Sasse’s self-conception as a “constitutional conservative.” Instead, he voted to uphold Trump’s abuse of power, despite being unable to offer a coherent explanation for his actions and despite the fact that his vote wouldn’t have been decisive either way.  He should have felt free to vote his conscience.

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Roll Call observed that Sasse’s personal Twitter account, where he used to frequently mock the president with a distinctive style, has been neglected since May.

And while his fellow anti-Trump Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MN) has come out forcefully to argue that the Mueller report provides grounds for the president’s impeachment (and has since become an independent), Sasse has been notably absent on the issue.

So what happened? On Tuesday night, it all became pretty plain when Trump endorsed the Nebraska senator in his re-election bid:

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The development made any mystery behind Sasse’s change of heart dissolve, as many observed:

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At the announcement for his campaign launch this month, Sasse even echoed Trump’s framing for the upcoming election, saying: “What’s at stake in 2020 is a choice between civics and socialism.”

But what’s actually at stake here seems pretty simple. Sasse wants to continue being a senator, and he knows as much as anybody else is that he’s destined to failure in a GOP primary if he’s seen as anti-Trump. So he suppressed his criticisms, bit his tongue, voted for Trump’s power grab against his better judgment, and earned that coveted endorsement from the commander-in-tweet.

The only mystery left is why you would want to be a senator if you have to abandon your principles to do it.

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Though perhaps Sasse’s previous principles were much more malleable than they seemed — and his bigger priority has always been in his personal glory and power.


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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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Judge blocking release of Jeffrey Epstein records has ties to officials linked to Epstein: report

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On Saturday, the Miami Herald reported that a judge who blocked the release of grand jury material in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex abuse case has ties to three officials with a vested interest in the outcome of the lawsuits surrounding the scandal.

"Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges," wrote Julie Brown, a reporter who has extensively covered the Epstein case.

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WATCH: Buffalo cops and firefighters cheer officers charged with assault as they leave the courthouse

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According to a report from both CNN and MSNBC, the two Buffalo police officers who were charged with second-degree assault after shoving a 75-year-old anti-police brutality protester to the ground where he sustained head injuries were greeted with applause after they were arraigned on Saturday morning.

MSNBC's Alex Witt noted that both officers were released without having to post bail.

According to ABC News, "Officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault during their video arraignments on Saturday and were released on their own recognizance. They both entered no guilty pleas and are expected back in court on July 20."

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