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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from both parties are publicly demanding that the U.S. government hold Saudi Arabia accountable for any role it played in the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2.

“My instincts say that there is no question that the Saudi government did this, and my instincts say that they murdered him,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday, adding that White House adviser Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the Saudi government should not be an impediment to potential consequences.

“I understand that there’s a lot of stock placed on that relationship, but if they’re murdering American citizens, then it doesn’t matter what our relationship has been,” Corker said.

At the White House, President Donald Trump continued to say that Khashoggi’s disappearance was a “terrible thing,” but that he does not favor suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia as a form of retaliation.

“What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I doubt it. … A thing like that should not happen.”

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who represents the northern Virginia district where Khashoggi lived, accused the Trump administration of fostering a “culture of impunity” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as he has gained power under his father, King Salman.

“I want to be very clear: I would not lay this tragic development at the doorstep of Donald Trump, as if he had something to do with it,” Connolly said — but added that the administration has “wittingly or unwittingly” led the Saudis to conclude there is “no constraint on them at all.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the U.S. government received intelligence intercepts indicating that the crown prince had ordered lieutenants to lure Khashoggi from the United States, where he was a legal resident, to Saudi Arabia so that he could be detained.

Khashoggi checked his cellphone just before entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, but did not read messages sent to him minutes later, according to screenshots obtained by NBC News.

“If the U.S. intelligence community had advance warning that an abduction or a kidnapping or illegal detention or worse was in fact being planned and plotted by the Saudi government, and that harm would clearly fall on Mr. Khashoggi, they had an obligation to inform him in advance,” Connolly said in an interview with NBC News.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday that he had a disappointing conversation with the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and that if the Saudis were involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance it would be “a game-changer” in the relationship between the two countries. On Wednesday, he warned there would be “hell to pay” if the Saudi government were responsible.

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‘The Notorious RBG’ draws sold-out audience in New York

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an unlikely national rock star. But “The Notorious RBG” is now the subject of a second film about her this year — in theaters on Christmas Day.

On Saturday evening, the Brooklyn native appeared in person, expressing love for her hometown of New York to a sold-out audience at the event organized by the Museum of the City of New York with WNET-TV. NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg led the question-and-answer session about Ginsburg’s quarter century on the Supreme Court, and about her life.

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Bid for law to protect British trawlermen

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A FORMER environment secretary wants to change the law to block the Government from negotiating away access to British fishing waters as part of an EU trade deal.

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Where Americans stand apart (and together) on holiday gifts

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 / Updated 

By Dante Chinni and Sally Bronston

WASHINGTON — It’s the holiday season, the time of year where we put aside our differences and celebrate goodwill toward all. But in 2018 America, politics can find its way into unexpected places — even into the gifts under the tree or the boxes you’re wrapping this weekend.

Data from Simmons Consumer Research shows political partisanship even seeps into what toys and gifts we’ll be exchanging this season. The company asked people what toys they are looking to buy this season and some patterns emerged.

If your child got a toy from a Trump voter, there’s a decent chance it is something from Nerf.

If your child got a toy from a Trump voter, there’s a decent chance it is something from Nerf.

Among Trump voters, 36 percent said they expect to shop for Nerf products in the next six months. That’s eight points higher than Clinton voters, 28 percent said they would be shopping for Nerf with the holidays approaching.

Nerf is a lot more than just spongy footballs and basketballs. There are lots of good, safe, Nerf guns out there. That may be driving the partisan difference here. Trump voters, in general, tend to be more supportive of gun rights.

Looking at a gift from that uncle who is a known independent voter? The Simmons data suggests Hot Wheels may in your future.

Looking at a gift from that uncle who is a known independent voter? The Simmons data suggests Hot Wheels may in your future.

More than four in 10 independents told Simmons they were planning on buying something from the universe of miniature die-cast vehicles. The number among Democrats and Republicans is about 10 points lower.

And even in 2018, Barbie lives on as a holiday purchase among Democrats and Republicans alike.

Even in 2018, Barbie lives on as a holiday purchase among Democrats and Republicans alike.

About a quarter of people who are registered with each party said they would be purchasing the fashion/career doll that has endured for nearly 60 years. No word on whether they purchased her as a beekeeper, an astronaut, or a farmer — a few of Barbie’s many professions.

But beyond those toys, there is one children’s gift everyone seems to agree upon: Legos.

There is one children’s gift everyone seems to agree upon: Legos.

Majorities of men and women, liberals and conservative and, yes, even Clinton and Trump voters said they were planning on buying the building brick toy as the holidays approached.

For the older kids, including those above the age of 18, video games are often the gift of choice and the data suggest a couple of points on them.

First and foremost if you are buying a gift for an adult, video games are more popular among Democrats. They are more likely to say they have played games on a list of popular titles. But leaving that fact aside, there are some partisan breakdowns in the world of screens and controllers.

The most popular games for both Democrats and Republicans are Call of Duty, and Fortnite.

The most popular games for both Democrats and Republicans are “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite.” Further down the list, Democrats favor Super Mario Kart, while Republicans lean towards MLB, the popular baseball game.

And in this time of year that is always special for children, the data from Simmons reveal one final nugget that is bigger than just toys or games; it is about parenting.

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say they want to provide their children with things they didn’t have as a child.

Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say they want to provide their children with things they didn’t have as a child. And majorities of Republicans and Democrats admit that they often indulge their children with “little extras.” Or, as Simmons Chief Scientist Steve Millman says, “When it comes to spoiling the kids, we’re all just Americans!”

That’s likely one big note of political agreement when getting together with friends and relatives this year during the holidays. And that’s a good thing to have this season because if this week’s news is any indication, discord is likely to reign in next year’s political discussions.

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