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Trump acquitted despite new evidence about his failure to protect Pence

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Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN
Updated 5:53 PM ET, Sat February 13, 2021

(CNN) — The US Senate voted Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump on a single article of impeachment charging that he incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, showing his power over the Republican Party despite clear concern among members of his party that he stood by and did not send help at a time when his vice president, members of Congress and police were in danger.

Seven Republican senators joined the 50 Democratic senators voting to convict the former President, falling far short of the two-thirds threshold required to convict.
Though Democrats did not find the votes they needed, several Republicans who had not shown their hand as they weighed the evidence, including Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Richard Burr of North Carolina, voted guilty. They were joined by GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump, he condemned the former President’s conduct and blamed him for the violence during an impassioned speech after the vote that effectively affirmed much of what the House impeachment managers had argued.
    But as in the House — where only 10 GOP members voted to impeach Trump in January — the vast majority of GOP senators sided with the former President.
    They made that decision despite reams of video evidence presented by House impeachment managers showing that rioters, whom Trump riled up for months with his lies that the November election was fraudulent and stolen from him, echoed the former President’s words and said they were following his instructions that day as they stormed the Capitol attempting to stop the certification of the election results, a process that then-Vice President Mike Pence was overseeing at the time.
    Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, called on senators to consider the fact that Trump abandoned Pence, lawmakers, police and Capitol staff by failing to send help in the critical early hours after the breach that had endangered their lives. In his closing argument, Raskin said his team had proven that Trump lured his followers to Washington and urged them to overthrow the election results — but that the case was not about Trump.
    “This case is about whether our country demands a peaceful, nonviolent transfer of power to guarantee the sovereignty of the people,” Raskin said. “Are we going to defend the people who defend us? Not just honor them with medals, as you rightfully did yesterday, but actually back them up against savage, barbaric insurrectionary violence. … Will the Senate condone the president of the United States inciting a violent attack on our chambers, our offices, our staff and the officers who protect us?”
    He told senators they would be judged by history: “Our reputations and our legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here and with how you exercise your oath to do impartial justice,” he said.
    But Trump attorney Michael van der Veen told senators they would be setting a dangerous precedent if they convicted the former President after a trial that he said stemmed from “impeachment lust” and an overwhelming desire “to vanquish an independent-minded outsider,” while shaming, demonizing and silencing his supporters.
    He called the rioters a group of lawless actors who must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but said there was no evidence that Trump had incited them.
    “This impeachment has been a complete charade from beginning to end,” van der Veen argued in closing, pointing to past attempts to impeach Trump.
    “There can be no excuse for the actions of the rioters here at the Capitol or anywhere else across this country,” van der Veen said. But he said the former President’s statements were protected under the right to free speech and that drawing any other conclusion would set a dangerous precedent.
    In a statement following the vote, Trump said members who supported him “stood proudly for the Constitution.”
    He called the proceedings “another phase in the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and portrayed himself as the victim, stating that “no president has ever gone through anything like it” and touted the fact that more than 74 million people voted for him in November.
    McConnell claimed that the Senate did not have authority under the Constitution to convict the former President — an interpretation that the vast majority of legal scholars disagree with — because Trump has already left office. But he suggested that Trump may still have to answer for his conduct in the criminal courts: “Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice,” he said.
    The Kentucky Republican argued that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for provoking what happened on January 6 when more than 140 police officers were injured and five people were killed. He noted that the rioters believed they were acting “on the wishes and instructions of the President.”
    The fact that they held that belief, he added, “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”
    McConnell also said that it was obvious that Trump did nothing to stop the violence at a time when Pence and lawmakers were in danger, calling that behavior “unconscionable.”
    “It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The President did not act swiftly. He did not do his job,” McConnell said.
    “Even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger” and the mob “carrying Trump banners” was attacking police and breaching perimeters, “the President sent a further tweet attacking his own vice president.”

    A surprise twist in trial proceedings Saturday

    The question of what Trump knew about the danger that Pence and lawmakers were facing on January 6 became a pivotal point in the trial, and new revelations Friday night about the former President’s state of mind led the Senate to initially vote to call witnesses on Saturday.
    Ultimately both sides agreed to avoid lengthening the trial by instead entering into evidence an account from Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who voted for impeachment. She said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — a Trump loyalist — called the former President and pleaded for help, but was initially rebuffed by Trump, who tried to claim that his opponents like Antifa were to blame for the violence. McCarthy told Trump that was wrong, Herrera Beutler said.
    “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump replied, according to the description of the call from Herrera Beutler and other lawmakers, which CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Kevin Liptak, Michael Warren and Marshall Cohen reported Friday.
    McCarthy, incredulous, replied: “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.
    After Trump’s lawyers furiously attacked the case that Democratic impeachment managers presented on Friday — claiming there had been a lack of due process and that Democrats had not thoroughly investigated what happened — Raskin asked to enter Herrera Beutler’s account into evidence Saturday.
    Raskin cited the Trump-McCarthy call as key evidence in his closing argument Saturday, calling the details of their exchange “explosive revelations.”
    “He abused his office by siding with the insurrectionists at almost every point, rather than with the Congress of the United States, rather than with the Constitution,” Raskin said. Trump’s “truly astounding reaction” to McCarthy’s call for help, the lead impeachment manager added, “confirmed that Trump was doing nothing to help the people in this room or this building. It’s now clear beyond doubt that Trump supported the actions of the mob and so he must be convicted.”
    “Trump must be convicted for the safety of our democracy and our people,” Raskin said.
    The details in the McCarthy phone call about Trump’s callous and unpresidential conduct struck at the heart of the question that senators had been weighing all week during the impeachment trial of the former President — whether he abdicated his duties as commander-in-chief by summoning a mob to Washington to challenge the November election results, and then failed to protect a co-equal branch of government as his followers stormed the Capitol.
    The renewed focus on the McCarthy call, the existence and some details of which were first reported by Punchbowl News and discussed publicly by the California Republican, added to the evidence that Trump sided with rioters during terrifying moments when his followers were attacking Capitol Police and hunting for Pence, along with other Trump adversaries like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
    But even after his lawyers delivered a flimsy presentation Friday that was riddled with Trump’s lies about the election and filled with irrelevant partisan innuendo meant to distract from the facts of the case, it was always unlikely that there would be 17 Republican senators willing to join 50 Democrats in voting to convict the former President, who still holds enormous sway over the GOP. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had told his colleagues before the vote that he would vote to acquit.
    Even McCarthy — who publicly criticized Trump’s actions after the siege — tried to make up with Trump by recently flying to see him in Florida.

    A disturbing phone call

    Trump was furious with Pence that day, because his long-loyal vice president refused to accede to the former President’s demand that he overturn the election results — which Pence had no power to do. When Pence proceeded to the Capitol to preside over the certification of the votes, Trump used his rally on the Ellipse and his tweets to continue to whip up rage among his followers at Pence, falsely suggesting that the then-vice president had the power to change the election outcome.
    At the trial this week, House impeachment managers outlined Trump’s focus on political concerns as the riot was under way. As one piece of evidence, they noted that Trump spoke to newly elected Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, in the midst of the mayhem after rioters had breached the Capitol in an effort to get him to enlist other GOP lawmakers to object to the certification of the election results.
    The Alabama senator revealed to Capitol Hill reporters this week that he told Trump during that phone call that authorities “just took the vice president out” and that he had to go — a clear warning to the then-President about the danger that Pence and lawmakers were facing from the mob.
    Democratic House impeachment managers had argued that Trump still attacked Pence’s lack of “courage” in another tweet after the call.
    But Sen. Mike Lee, whose phone Trump accidentally called when he was trying to reach Tuberville, turned over his phone records to House impeachment managers Saturday showing that the Trump call to Tuberville happened at 2:26 pm, which would have been two minutes after Trump’s tweet attacking Pence.

    A burdensome question for GOP senators

    The mystery of why Trump continued to whip up anger at Pence on a day when he was in danger clearly was the question that weighed most heavily on key GOP senators.
    After the defense rested their case on Friday and the two sides turned to questions from senators, Collins and Murkowski asked Trump’s lawyers to lay out what Trump knew and when he knew it, adding that they should be as “detailed as possible.”
    Trump attorney Michael van der Veen had no answer to that question other than to point a 2:38 p.m. tweet that day by Trump — and immediately pivoted to blame Democratic House impeachment managers for the lack of clarity on the question, suggesting that they had failed to uncover those details in their investigation.
    His response defied logic, given that Trump could have easily told his lawyers what happened that day or offered an explanation publicly about why it took so long for the White House to send help to the Capitol.
    Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana continued to press the Trump defense team on that question of Pence’s safety and the former President’s inaction. Romney asked whether Trump knew Pence was in danger when he criticized his vice president in a 2:24 p.m. tweet.
    In his question, Cassidy — who delivered a surprise vote for the trial’s constitutionality earlier this week — said the timing of Trump’s tweet accusing Pence of lacking “courage” at 2:24 p.m. and his lack of a response to the riot “suggests President Trump did not care that Vice President Pence was endangered or that law enforcement was overwhelmed.” He then asked the lawyers whether the timeline showed that Trump “was tolerant of the intimidation of Vice President Pence.”
    Van der Veen said “no,” but went on to dispute “the facts that are laid out in that question.”
    “Unfortunately, we’re not going to know the answer to the facts in this proceeding because the House did nothing to investigate what went on,” van der Veen replied. He referred to the accounts of both Tuberville and Lee as “hearsay” and went on to assert that he was sure Trump “was concerned for the safety and well-being of Mr. Pence and everybody else that was over here.”

    A Trumpian case

    Raskin was clearly incensed by the repeated criticism of his team for failing to provide evidence of what the former President was doing on January 6. He noted that House members invited Trump to testify, but that he had refused to come to a civil proceeding to share what happened.
    “He will not spend one day in jail if you convict him. This is not a criminal proceeding,” Raskin said. “This is about preserving the republic, dear Senate. That’s what this is about. Setting standards of conduct for the president of the United States so this never happens to us again.”
    Raskin continued, “Bring your client up here and have him testify under oath about why he was sending out tweets denouncing the vice president of United States while the vice president was being hunted down by a mob that wanted to hang him and was chanting in this building ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ ‘Traitor! Traitor! Traitor.'”
    Van der Veen’s flippant response about Trump’s concern for Pence was in keeping with the argumentative demeanor that he adopted on Saturday.
    It was also one of the many examples of how Trump’s team of lawyers barely mounted a defense for Trump’s inaction on January 6 or tried to resurrect the damage that has been done to the former President during the past three days in which the House impeachment managers laid out a devastating case showing how Trump marshaled his supporters and inflamed their fury by telling lies about the election results over several months.
    One of Trump’s defense attorneys, David Schoen, threatened to quit on Thursday night, but was talked into staying on the team by Trump, CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Friday night. The New York Times first reported Schoen’s threat.
    Instead of rebutting the managers’ case, the defense team on Friday fashioned a presentation that was quintessentially Trumpian — lots of noise, distraction and irrelevant television clips of Democrats stating they would “fight” for legislation or various causes. Their main aim seemed to be pleasing Trump as he watched from his home in Mar-a-Lago, while distracting from the facts of what happened on January 6 and what senators themselves witnessed.
    Trump’s lawyers claimed that the insurrection was not an insurrection, and that it was planned by radical extremists in advance — trying to argue that Trump bore no responsibility for the attack despite mountains of video evidence to the contrary. They claimed that the impeachment proceeding itself was an attack on free speech.
    “You can’t incite what was already going to happen,” van der Veen said at one point, ignoring the fact that Trump had primed his supporters for months to fight back against what he falsely claimed was a rigged election.
    The former President’s lawyers went so far as to repeat some of his lies about the election on the Senate floor, and tried to portray him as a paragon of “law and order,” who would never have approved of the attacks against the police that took place on January 6.
    “The reality is, Mr. Trump was not in any way, shape or form instructing these people to fight or to use physical violence,” van der Veen said, defending Trump’s speech in Washington in the hours before the riot. “What he was instructing them to do was to challenge their opponents in primary elections, to push for sweeping election reforms, to hold big tech responsible, all customary and legal ways to petition your government for redress of grievances, which, of course, is also protected constitutional speech. But the House managers don’t want you to focus on those things, because, again, it does not fit their story.”
    When they face their constituents at home, Republican senators who ultimately vote against conviction will be armed with some new arguments about how doing so would have jeopardized free speech, a key plank in the Trump team’s defense.
      But the final vote tally showed few minds were changed during the impeachment process — and that most minds weren’t open to begin with.
      This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Saturday.

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      Politics

      Biden to take first limited steps on gun control, including on ‘ghost guns’ and pistol braces

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      By Kevin Liptak, CNN
      Updated 10:57 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

      (CNN) — President Joe Biden will take his first, limited actions on gun control Thursday, directing his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns and pistol stabilizing braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately, according to a senior administration official.

      The steps — which also include nominating a gun control advocate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — fulfill a commitment Biden made in the aftermath of two deadly shootings last month to take “common sense” steps right away to address gun violence.
      But they fall short of the sweeping actions Biden promised as a candidate that must be passed by Congress, including a ban on assault weapons or enacting universal background checks. Senior administration officials framed the upcoming announcements as initial steps that would be followed by additional actions later on, including applying pressure on lawmakers to act.
        Biden said last month following a mass shooting in Colorado, “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future.” But he has acknowledged that passing a massive new infrastructure plan — and not new gun laws — is his top legislative priority.
          Biden will make the announcements Thursday from the White House alongside his attorney general, Merrick Garland, whose Justice Department will be responsible for drafting the proposed rules.
              The announcements will come as the President is expected to nominate David Chipman as the next director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a White House official told CNN. Chipman is a former ATF agent who serves as senior policy adviser at Giffords, the organization led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun control advocate after being shot in 2011.
              The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.
              Biden also plans to announce new investments in intervention programs in violence-prone communities; a directive to the Justice Department to publish model “red flag” laws for states that allow the temporary removal of guns from people deemed at high risk of harming themselves or others; and a comprehensive report on firearms trafficking.
              Taken together, the actions amount to the first real steps by Biden’s administration to combat gun violence. Inside the White House, efforts to devise executive actions have been led by White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and Office of Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond, administration officials and gun safety advocacy groups told CNN.
              That included meeting with some of those groups and fielding ideas for steps that Biden could take on his own. Some advocates had been clamoring for steps earlier in the administration, pointing to Biden’s pledge to prioritize gun control during his campaign.
              But initial reaction from gun safety advocacy groups Wednesday evening was positive.
              “Each of these executive actions will start to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to make good on President Biden’s promise to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement.
              “These much-needed executive actions will start saving lives right away, and our grassroots army of nearly 6 million supporters looks forward to standing behind President Biden as he urges the Senate to follow his lead and act,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement.
              While campaigning, Biden had said he would task his attorney general with instituting better enforcement of existing gun laws as a means of slowing gun violence. He also made a campaign pledge to send $900 million for community programs meant to combat violence, something the administration is sorting out how to fulfill.
              Following last month’s shootings, Biden called on Congress to take steps like reenacting an assault weapons ban, with Vice President Kamala Harris, who argued for executive actions on the campaign trail, telling “CBS This Morning” that “if we really want something that is going to be lasting, we need to pass legislation.”
              The Democratic-controlled House passed gun legislation that would expand background checks on all commercial gun sales last month, but the bills face tougher paths in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 50-50 majority and would need significant Republican support to overcome a legislative filibuster.
              Biden acknowledged during a news conference that his main legislative priority was passing an infrastructure package and that he believed careful timing was key to the success of any proposed bills.
              And he has acknowledged that his political capital is limited.
              “I haven’t done any counting yet,” he said in March when asked whether he believed he had enough votes to pass significant reforms.
              As the nation’s posture on guns has evolved, Biden has been front-and-center at most every stop along the way for more than three decades, from the triumph of a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994 to the disappointment of a failed push for universal background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
                Recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado had raised the question inside the West Wing over how much political capital Biden should expend on the matter, which has so often ended in frustration.
                This story has been updated with details about Biden’s executive actions and reaction to them.

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                Virginia lawmakers OK marijuana possession starting July 1

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                By Paul LeBlanc and Kay Jones, CNN
                Updated 9:45 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                (CNN) — The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill legalizing simple possession of marijuana, becoming the latest state to modify its laws around cannabis use and possession that disproportionately jailed Black people for nonviolent offenses.

                The new law, which goes into effect July 1, allows anyone in the state 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The law also “modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana, and imposes limits on dissemination of criminal history record information related to certain marijuana offenses,” according to a summary posted to the Legislature’s website.
                “Virginia led and made history once again today,” Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the state Senate, said in a tweet.
                  “I was proud to cast the tie-breaking vote to legalize marijuana and bring long overdue justice, fairness, equity and opportunity to the people of our great Commonwealth.”
                    The bill had originally passed in late February, but Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam sent it back to the Legislature with a series of revisions, including a proposal to accelerate the timeline of its enactment to this July instead of 2024.
                        Still, the measure was met with fierce opposition from state GOP lawmakers Wednesday, including Del. Chris Head, who called it a “train wreck” during a virtual House floor speech.
                        “If this policy change is to be undertaken, it has to be undertaken prudently, and I understand the enormous pressure on the majority party to make this change right now. I understand that opposing immediate legislation and legalization is going to anger many of your constituents. And I understand that taking the time to do this right might possibly even lead to charges of racism,” he said.
                        “But we have to do this right. And doing it right takes time.”
                        Legalization advocates have long touted the righting of past criminal justice wrongs, eliminating illegal market activity and generating additional tax revenue when they’ve pushed for overhauling state cannabis laws.
                        “At the end of the day, economics talk and jobs talk,” Jessica Billingsley, chief executive officer of Akerna, which makes regulatory compliance software that helps states track cannabis sales from seed to sale, previously told CNN.
                          “I truly believe we’re going to see some very meaningful and important movement coming out of this as states and governors look for a way to bolster their economy.”
                          Cannabis sales in states that have legalized the plant for medical and recreational purposes totaled about $15 billion in 2019, and are expected to top $30 billion by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics, which tracks dispensary sales.

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                          Biden’s planned pick for ATF director a fierce advocate for gun control

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                          By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
                          Updated 9:30 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                          Washington (CNN) — David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s planned nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has a long history at the agency and sports credentials in gun control advocacy sure to excite firearm safety groups.

                          If confirmed, Chipman will lead the agency that enforces gun laws at a critical point in Biden’s early tenure, as the President looks to take fresh action on the issue in the wake of two deadly shootings last month.
                          “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future,” Biden said last month. The President plans to announce new executive actions on guns Thursday, a person familiar with the plans said.

                            Longtime ATF special agent

                              Chipman, if confirmed, would return to the agency where he worked for 25 years as a special agent.
                                He lists “Violent Crime Reduction Strategist,” “Certified Explosives Specialist” and “Interagency Liason Specialist” among his specialties on his Linkedin profile, and Giffords notes his expertise includes ghost guns, the gun industry, law enforcement and assault weapons.
                                In the President’s first, limited actions on gun control Thursday, Biden will direct his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns and pistol stabilizing braces that allow the weapons to be used more accurately, according to a senior administration official. Ghost guns are handmade or self-assembled firearms that don’t have serial numbers, and some can be fabricated in as little as 30 minutes using kits and parts purchased online.
                                The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.
                                In recent years, the bureau has become most visible in the aftermath of mass shootings around the US and at other crimes involving firearms. But the agency has a broader scope than just guns.
                                According to its website, ATF “protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.”
                                “We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology,” the bureau’s website states.

                                Gun control advocacy

                                After leaving the ATF in 2012, Chipman became a senior adviser at Everytown for Gun Safety, where he was “consulted frequently” by lawmakers considering gun control legislation, according to his Linkedin.
                                Chipman then served as senior vice president of Public Safety Solutions for almost three years before arriving at Giffords as a senior policy adviser in 2016.
                                It’s in these roles that Chipman’s voice as a fierce advocate for gun control was elevated, as he frequently wrote op-eds and made media appearances to advance the cause.
                                “As a former ATF special agent with more than 24 years of experience at the bureau, I know all too well how serious our gun violence problem is and how desperately the agency lacks for the law enforcement tools that are necessary to help curb this national epidemic,” Chipman wrote in a 2013 Politico op-ed.
                                The country’s gun safety laws, he wrote at the time, “make it all too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands — and since Congress has failed to address these gaps legislatively, ATF must chart a new course to combat the scourge of gun violence. This requires strong leadership.”
                                More recently, Chipman voiced support for limiting high-capacity magazines in a 2019 interview with PBS NewsHour.
                                “Talking to any gun owner, a 100-round magazine is just not traditional. It’s not normal. And I can’t think of a purpose, beyond killing a lot of people, for having it,” he said. “So if the debate is, should it be 10 or what have you, it can’t be 100. And so I think there’s room where we can have progress, although we will not have perfection.”
                                  And in light of FBI records last summer showing US firearm background checks having skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chipman told CNN at the time: “My biggest concern involves the potential number of first time gun buyers who, before March, did not think they needed a gun.”
                                  This story has been updated with additional details Wednesday.

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                                  Andrew Giuliani, former Trump aide and son of Rudy Giuliani, says he plans for to run for governor of New York

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                                  By Devan Cole, CNN
                                  Updated 12:16 PM ET, Wed April 7, 2021

                                  Washington (CNN) — Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, says he’s planning to run for governor of the heavily Democratic state next year.

                                  “I plan to run,” Andrew Giuliani, who served as an aide to former President Donald Trump, told the Washington Examiner in an interview published Wednesday.
                                  Giuliani’s gubernatorial bid could set up a high stakes, headline-grabbing showdown with Andrew Cuomo, should the embattled incumbent Democratic governor decide to seek a fourth term. But Giuliani would face a steep uphill battle in the heavily Democratic state, and his candidacy could help hand another win to the party as his proximity to Trump would likely be seen as a liability in a state where the former President is widely unpopular.
                                    “I believe I can win the race,” Giuliani told the Examiner. “I think I’m the right candidate, and this is the right time to help change New York State, and we’ve got a playbook that works.”
                                      “Outside of anybody named Trump, I think I have the best chance to win and take the state back, and I think there’s an opportunity in 2022 with a wounded Democratic candidate, whether it’s going to be Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, whether it’s going to be a radical (attorney general), Letitia James, whether it’s going to be a no-name lieutenant governor, I think there’s a very, very real chance to win,” he said, according to the magazine.
                                            Asked if he expected Cuomo to seek reelection to a fourth term next year, Jay Jacobs, the state party chair and a close ally of the governor, demurred.
                                            “I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I think that he’s more focused on getting through his current troubles, then seeing where he’s going to go,” he said. “These investigations are going to be critical in all of that. It’s hard to tell. I’m sure that, given his druthers, he’d like to run for reelection.”

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                                            Stephen Breyer worries about Supreme Court’s public standing in current political era

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                                            By Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer
                                            Updated 9:07 PM ET, Tue April 6, 2021

                                            (CNN) — Justice Stephen Breyer, who may be nearing the end of his Supreme Court tenure, expressed concern on Tuesday about the standing of the high court and the possible erosion of public confidence in its decisions.

                                            In an expansive, two-hour lecture at Harvard Law School, Breyer bemoaned the common practice — by journalists, senators and others — of referring to justices by the presidents who appointed them and of describing the nine by their conservative or liberal approach to the law.
                                            “These are more than straws in the wind,” the 82-year-old Breyer said. “They reinforce the thought, likely already present in the reader’s mind, that Supreme Court justices are primarily political officials or ‘junior league’ politicians themselves rather than jurists. The justices tend to believe that differences among judges mostly reflect not politics but jurisprudential differences. That is not what the public thinks.”
                                              Breyer also warned against proposals to expand the size of the Supreme Court from its current nine members. Public trust was “gradually built” over the centuries, he said, and any discussion of change should take account of today’s public acceptance of the court’s rulings, even those as controversial as the 2000 Bush v. Gore case that settled a presidential election.
                                                “The public now expects presidents to accept decisions of the court, including those that are politically controversial,” he said. “The court has become able to impose a significant check — a legal check — upon the Executive’s actions in cases where the Executive strongly believes it is right.”
                                                  Some of Breyer’s most compelling opinions, it should be noted, have been written in dissent. In 2007, for example, he objected to an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts rejecting school integration plans in Seattle and Louisville. Roberts said districts could not consider a student’s race when making school assignments to reduce racial isolation throughout the school district.
                                                  “This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret,” wrote Breyer, whose father, Irving Breyer, was a long-serving school board member in San Francisco. Breyer still wears the wristwatch his father received upon his retirement from the district. Breyer said the Roberts opinion threatened “the promise of” the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
                                                  Breyer said Tuesday that differences with his colleagues were based on their distinct views of the structure of the Constitution or how they interpreted statutes. He did not refer to instances in which his colleagues themselves have publicly questioned each other’s motives.
                                                    Breyer did allow that sometimes justices weigh public opinion or the future ramifications of a decision. And he acknowledged that the nine are products of their individual backgrounds and experiences.
                                                    Still, he said, “judicial philosophy is not a code word for ‘politics.'”

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