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WASHINGTON — The gun safety coalition that helped pressure Walmart to stop the sale of military-style ammunition and ask customers to no longer openly carry firearms in its stores is significantly expanding its campaign, NBC News has learned. The group has issued an open letter calling on U.S. companies to break financial or business ties with the National Rifle Association and to stop making political donations to NRA-backed lawmakers.

“After the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, we have been reminded of the painfully high cost we all pay and the toll gun violence takes on our families, friends, communities and neighbors,” wrote leaders of the coalition that includes gun safety groups including Guns Down America, March for our Lives and MoveOn, among others.

“If Congress won’t act, it’s time that you do,” the group wrote, adding, “American employers are already doing more than Congress to keep us safe from gun violence.”

Igor Volsky, director of Guns Down America, told NBC News that with the holiday shopping season approaching, the campaign is likely to target some of the nation’s other large retailers after Walmart’s actions. The coalition is choosing specific targets now before building campaigns around them in the coming weeks, he said.

The effort marks a hard pivot by activists, long frustrated by a decades-long stalemate in Congress over stricter gun laws, to press corporate America to take the lead in addressing the nation’s gun violence epidemic. U.S. gun deaths have reached their highest level in nearly 40 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“We feel like conscripting American corporations in building a future with fewer guns is where the future is trending. Legislative change is going to take a long time and we need to find other avenues to move this along in the effort of saving lives,” Volsky said.

Members of Moms Demand Action and other gun control advocates hold a gun control rally at the Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond, Va., on July 9, 2019.Michael McCoy / Reuters file

On Tuesday, GOP Congressional leaders met at the White House about the legislative agenda for fall and discussed whether it would include action on guns. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he would only put legislation on the floor that President Trump would sign. Yet Trump has gone back and forth on whether he would support expanded background checks.

The Democratic-controlled House passed comprehensive background check legislation in February and the Senate shows no signs of taking it up.

In the aftermath of the shooting in an El Paso Walmart last month, the coalition came together to stage rallies, launch a petition and urge Americans to hand deliver letters to local Walmart managers asking them to end all gun and ammunition sales and break ties with the NRA.

On Sept. 3, Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, said it would end all handgun ammunition sales and ask customers not to carry guns into stores. It will continue to sell long barrel deer rifles and shotguns and much of the ammunition for those guns. It’s the latest step from Walmart to scale back the sale of weapons and ammunition, including stopping the sale of handguns everywhere but Alaska and ending sales of modern sporting rifles and starting last year.

Volsky pointed to a number of other companies that have already taken the initiative, including in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 that killed 17 people. First National Bank of Omaha said it would not renew a contract with the NRA to issue a branded Visa card. Enterprise Holdings Inc., the car rental company, announced it would cut off discounts for NRA members, while Allied and North American van lines, the moving service providers, terminated discounts for NRA members.

Citigroup also set restrictions on the sale of firearms by its business customers, becoming the first Wall Street bank to take such a stance.

The coalition said Walmart’s actions should accelerate corporate America’s march toward gun safety in the absence of congressional action.

“Walmart’s actions established a higher standard for corporate responsibility in the gun reform arena and we’re glad Kroger, Walgreens, Wegmans and CVS have also moved in the right direction. But we believe that every major American employer has a moral and patriotic duty to go even further.”

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Corbyn bombshell: Labour leader campaign group has shock links to Soviet supporters

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JEREMY CORBYN’S quest to win next week’s general election and oust Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is being backed by a campaign group that has shock links to the Soviet past, it has been claimed.

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Democrats’ impeachment report cites Trump obstruction and withholding aid, warns of ‘grave harm’

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WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee released a report Tuesday containing a summary of the evidence it has collected in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The 300-page report cited two instances of misconduct by the president: obstruction of the House inquiry and withholding an official White House meeting and U.S. military aid from Ukraine on the condition of investigating a Trump political rival.

“This report chronicles a scheme of the President of the United States to coerce an ally, Ukraine, that is at war with an adversary, Russia, into doing the president’s political dirty work,” said Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., at a press conference outlining his committee’s findings.

The House Intelligence Committee voted 13-9 in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday evening to send the report to the Judiciary, which will start proceedings on Wednesday.

While the report, which was also prepared by the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, didn’t explicitly include recommendations of articles of impeachment, it strongly implies that obstruction could be one. The report noted that past presidents who were the subject of impeachment inquiries, unlike Trump, complied with subpoenas and requests for information from Congress.

On obstruction, which was described as a “campaign of intimidation,” the report cast Trump’s efforts to “flout” congressional oversight as unprecedented because of his refusal to hand over documents and make certain witnesses available. But it also noted that “the House gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous individuals who were willing to follow the law.”

“No other President has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent,” the report said.

“If left unanswered, President Trump’s ongoing effort to thwart Congress’ impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress, the balance of power between our branches of government, and the Constitutional order that the President and every Member of Congress have sworn to protect and defend.”

The report also constructed a detailed timeline of Trump’s alleged efforts to withhold military assistance to Ukraine, as well as an official invitation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to meet with Trump in the White House. The timeline was based on the testimony of various aides and diplomats who have been questioned by impeachment investigators.

Ukraine “desperately wanted and needed” U.S. security assistance as well as a White House meeting between its president, Zelenskiy, and Trump, Schiff said.

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“At the same time, there was something President Trump desperately wanted and believed that he needed — and that was an investigation that would damage the rival that he feared the most, Joe Biden, as well as an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in our last election,” he said.

The report included a number of new details that stemmed from AT&T phone records obtained by the House, which showed someone who was using a phone number associated with the Office of Management and Budget called the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in early August during the period when the U.S. aid to Ukraine was frozen. That same day, call records show Giuliani also called the White House Situation Room five times as well as the OMB number.

To freeze the security assistance — which was announced to Trump administration officials on July 18, and not reversed until Sept. 11 — Trump inquired about the aid starting in mid-June and around July 12 “directed that a hold be placed” on the aid to Ukraine, the report said.

“In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president,” the report said.

“President Trump does not appear to believe there is any such limitation on his power to use White House meetings, military aid or other official acts to procure foreign help in his re-election.”

The president’s conduct, which put “his own personal and political interests above the interests of the American people,” Schiff said, is “exactly why they prescribed a remedy as extraordinary as the remedy of impeachment.”

“We have a very difficult decision ahead of us to make,” said Schiff, who explained that it will be a decision made by the House Judiciary Committee in conjunction with the House Democratic Caucus.

The report puts the White House summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president at the center of the inquiry, calling it “stark evidence of misconduct” and “a demonstration of the President’s prioritization of his personal political benefit over the national interest.”

But, the report claimed, this conversation was “neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain.”

“Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President,” the report said.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the impeachment inquiry

During his Tuesday remarks, Schiff said Americans should care deeply about whether the president is “betraying their trust in him” and betraying the oath he took to the Constitution.

“If we don’t care about this, we can darn well be sure the president will be back at it doing this all over again,” he said.

The release came ahead of a Tuesday evening meeting scheduled for the panel to consider and vote on adopting the report. The report, along with views provided by Republicans, will then be sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which is taking over the next phase of the inquiry.

Much of the evidence came from 17 closed-door interviews with key witnesses, and over two weeks of public hearings last month with a dozen of those witnesses.

In their public testimony, a number of those 12 witnesses confirmed and elaborated on the efforts allegedly made by Trump, his associates and administration officials to get Ukraine to announce investigations into those two issues, and why they believed delayed U.S. aid to Ukraine would only be released once that nation followed through on those demands.

Republicans on the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees released a 123-page minority report Monday evening that argues that Democrats have failed to establish any impeachable offenses by Trump. They said that they didn’t find that Trump engaged in any wrongdoing, and that there was no quid pro quo.

Republicans said there was no evidence that Trump improperly withheld $391 million in military aid to Ukraine or pressured Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden to help benefit his 2020 re-election campaign, arguing that much of Trump’s action regarding Ukraine actually stems from his “longstanding” skepticism of the country due to “its history of pervasive corruption.”

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its first impeachment hearing, which its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said will “explore the framework put in place to respond to serious allegations of impeachable misconduct like those against President Trump.”

Nadler extended an invitation to Trump and his counsel to participate in Wednesday’s hearing, but the White House said Sunday that they had declined the offer. The president is in London this week for the 2019 NATO summit.

It has not yet been decided how many hearings Judiciary might hold or what charges potentially might be wrapped into articles of impeachment. Some lawmakers have recently raised the possibility that other cases could be considered, such as those stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Corbyn tax grab: How Labour will hijack YOUR holidays by adding HUNDREDS to air fares

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JEREMY CORBYN’S plans to pile huge taxes onto Britons to pay for the Labour’s Party’s multi-billion pound spending spree could soon include a measure that would cost you hundreds of pounds more just to fly abroad for a holiday.

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