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BORIS JOHNSON must carry out a sweeping overhaul of the Civil Service to stop pro-Brussels mandarins from sabotaging Brexit, senior Tory Liam Fox warns. In a speech to a Westminster think tank, the former Cabinet minister will say many Whitehall chiefs remain determined to keep the UK as closely tied to the EU as possible after the departure from the bloc at the end of the month.

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First 3 women to be impeachment managers say public will see trial as ‘rigged’ if Trump is acquitted

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The first three women to serve as presidential impeachment managers in U.S. history told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Thursday that if the Senate votes to acquit President Donald Trump, the American public will view it as a “rigged trial.”

Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren of California, Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Val Demings of Florida also spoke about the need for witnesses in the trial, and added that even an acquittal won’t amount to an exoneration of the president.

“It seems to me, if there’s not a full, fair trial with witnesses, he may get an acquittal, but he’s not going to get an exoneration,” Lofgren said in the interview, in response to a question about whether an acquittal would be touted by the administration as a victory. “It’s going to be seen for what it is, just a rubber stamp to get him off the hook.”

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“And so that’s yet unknown, whether we’ll have a full trial, but clearly, he engaged in serious misconduct that upended the Constitutional order, really threatens our freedom,” Lofgren said. “Because it’s the Constitution that has protected our freedom as Americans for over two centuries. That’s what the stakes really are.”

Garcia added that she felt it was “important that we emphasize that he’s been impeached. That is done. He can’t erase it. He will always be an impeached president.”

“If they don’t convict and they don’t decide to remove, then the public will see that it was rigged, that it wasn’t fair,” Garcia added. “Because everyday Americans know what a fair trial is. And that includes witnesses, it includes testimony, it includes both sides having a fair shot at presenting their case. And if they don’t see that, then they’ll say, well, yeah, he got off, but it’s because it was rigged. You know, it was a done deal. And I think that will also last forever, and it might hurt him in anything he does in the future.”

Full coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial

Lofgren said the aim of the trial isn’t to hurt Trump, but to “stop the misconduct.”

“It’s not just about hurting him, that’s not the object,” she said. “The object is to stop the misconduct, and to make sure future presidents don’t do this. It’s not about Donald Trump as a guy. It’s about our government. It’s about our Constitution.”

As the first of the three to appear on the Senate floor, Lofgren made history Tuesday when she became the first female manager of a presidential impeachment. Demings is the first African American to serve in the role. And Garcia is the only Latina among the seven impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump.



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SNP and Nicola Sturgeon savaged by Tory MP for ‘fatal flaws’ in Scottish independence plan

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NICOLA STURGEON has come under brutal attack for her demands to Boris Johnson for a second referendum on Scottish independence, with a Conservative MP warning of “fatal flaws” and accusing the SNP of “creating their own self-fulfilling prophecy”.

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Judge sets high bar for former Trump adviser Flynn to withdraw guilty plea

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Federal District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan made clear Friday that Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has a high hurdle to overcome in persuading the judge to let Flynn withdraw his guilty plea.

Flynn pleaded guilty two years ago, admitting he lied to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump transition. A year ago, the government said he deserved credit for admitting his misconduct and cooperating with prosecutors in investigating Flynn’s former business partner. But prosecutors said recently that he failed to live up to the bargain and no longer deserves leniency.

Flynn’s lawyers have accused the FBI of misconduct in how it has handled his agreement. That culminated in a motion filed earlier this month seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, which has delayed his sentencing.

In a brief order Friday, Judge Sullivan said Flynn’s lawyers should file legal briefs addressing whether the court should hold a hearing “where the parties would present all testimony and evidence concerning the issue of whether Mr. Flynn can show that there is good cause to set aside his guilty pleas.”

Such a hearing, the judge said, might include “testimony from Mr. Flynn and other witnesses under oath, subject to cross-examination, to show any ‘fair and just reason’ for this court to grant his motion to withdraw.”

The judge’s order cited a 1995 ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals that set a very high bar for withdrawing a plea. In that case, the appeals court said a defendant “must show either an error in the taking of his plea or some ‘more substantial’ reason he failed to press his case rather than plead guilty.”

If a judge refuses to allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea, the appeals court said it would be “extremely reluctant” to overrule such a ruling unless a defendant can show that the judge clearly made a mistake. A defendant “has to shoulder an extremely heavy burden if he is ultimately to prevail.”

Flynn’s sentencing is now set for Feb. 27. Under federal guidelines, he could face zero to six months in jail, and federal prosecutors have said his sentence should be in that range. Flynn’s lawyers have urged the judge to sentence him to probation with no jail time.



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