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Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced Tuesday she will vote to acquit President Donald Trump in the Senate’s impeachment trial.

Known as a party “moderate” and considered a potential swing vote, Collins had broken with her party on Thursday to support the call for more witnesses in the trial, CNN reported.

She was joined by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney as the only Senate Republicans to support that measure.

On the question of conviction, however, Collins stuck with her GOP colleagues.

She announced her decision from the Senate floor.

“I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office,” the senator said.

Collins focused on problems with House Democrats’ conduct during their impeachment inquiry, saying the House “substituted its own political preference for speed over finality.”

“House managers described impeachment as a last resort for the Congress. In this case, however, the House chose to skip the basic steps of judicial adjudication and instead leapt straight to impeachment as the first resort,” she said.

“It is my judgment that except when extraordinary circumstances require a different result, we should entrust to the people the most fundamental decision of a democracy, namely, who should lead their country.”

With her announcement, Collins became the second moderate GOP senator in as many days to announce she would vote to acquit, joining Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“The House failed in its responsibilities. And the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display,” Murkowski said from the Senate floor on Monday.

With Collins’ and Murkowski’s announcements, Romney appears to be the last moderate Republican yet to announce his vote.

Regardless of the Utah senator’s decision, however, Trump is all but guaranteed to be acquitted.

Conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and Republicans control the upper chamber 53-47.

The final vote on conviction is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

Author: Bradley Evans

Source: Western Journal: Trump Now 2-0 with Swing Votes as Susan Collins Announces She’s Voting To Acquit

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released a plan pledging to fund “transition-related surgery” and other medical procedures for transgender military veterans.

The Democratic presidential hopeful published the plan to her website on Tuesday, Politico reported.

On a lengthy page titled “Keeping Our Promises to Our Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families,” Warren included a section on “LGBTQ+ Service Members.”

“I’ll include the LGBTQ+ population in the VA’s Center for Minority Veterans, ensuring that they receive targeted outreach and equal care and are treated with dignity and respect,” the Massachusetts senator wrote.

“A Warren VA will ensure that every LGBTQ+ person can get the equitable, gender-affirming, and culturally-competent health care they need.”

More specifically, her plan would provide “all medically necessary care related to the health of transgender people, including transition-related surgery.”

Warren wrote that such care would be covered by her signature “Medicare for All” plan.

The specific issue of funding so-called “gender transition” surgeries has come up before in the Democratic presidential primary race.

During a CNN town hall in October, Warren told host Chris Cuomo she regretted saying in 2012 that funding those surgeries for transgender inmates was a poor use of taxpayer dollars.

“I believe that everyone is entitled to medical care — and medical care that they need,” Warren told Cuomo.

“And that includes people who are transgender who, it is the time for them to have gender-affirming surgery. I just think that’s important.”

In the plan she released Tuesday, Warren also voiced her opposition to President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

“I have opposed the Trump Administration’s shameful ban on transgender service members from the start,” she wrote.

“I’ll reverse it on the first day of my presidency.”

Warren has tied statements about transgender people to other policy issues throughout her campaign.

Last month, she tweeted about transgender illegal immigration, writing that “we must end unnecessary detention and enforce strict standards to keep trans migrants and asylum seekers safe.”

Author: Bradley Evans

Source: Western Journal: Elizabeth Warren Promises Taxpayer-Funded Gender ‘Transition-Related Surgery’

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was told to leave a House impeachment inquiry hearing on Monday because he was not on the committee conducting the hearing.

Gaetz, who has been an outspoken defender of President Donald Trump during House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry, was attempting to sit in on a House Intelligence Committee hearing that featured testimony from Trump’s former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, Fox News reported.

The Florida Republican protested that he was denied entry despite sitting on the House Judiciary Committee, which traditionally handles impeachment inquiries, the Washington Examiner reported.

The House parliamentarian said Gaetz was not allowed to attend due to the fact that he is not on any of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs or Oversight committees heading the impeachment inquiry.

“Judiciary Chairman @JerryNadler claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it.”

“And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff,” he added, referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California.

“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” he said, according to Fox.

“What are the Democrats so afraid of?”

Hill, who stepped down from her White House role in July, was expected to testify that Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had avoided the National Security Council process in dealing with Ukraine, CBS News reported.

Gaetz continued to hammer House Democrats for their handling of the impeachment inquiry on Twitter, using the hashtag “#KangarooCourtCoup.”

“They are trying to overturn the result of a national election for President from behind closed doors,” Gaetz wrote.

Other House Republicans jumped to Gaetz’s defense.

“@RepAdamSchiff is conducting his secretive impeachment proceedings in the basement of the Capitol, and now he’s kicked @mattgaetz out of today’s deposition,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted. Jordan serves as the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, another of the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne agreed, tweeting that Gaetz’s removal from the Hill hearing “shows how much of a sham this whole thing is!”

Author: Bradley Evans

Source: Western Journal: GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Denied Entry into Impeachment Inquiry Hearing

March for Our Lives, a gun control advocacy organization founded in part by activist and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, has released an expansive new gun control agenda that would dramatically curtail the Second Amendment rights enjoyed by millions of Americans.

The “Peace Plan for a Safer America,” as described on the group’s website, would create a “national gun buy-back and disposal program” and institute a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” among other measures.

“Policymakers have failed, so survivors are stepping up,” Hogg tweeted.

But the ambitious plan suffers from the two ailments most common to gun control efforts: imprecision and impracticality.

The Peace Plan states that Congress must pass legislation to ban “assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other weapons of war.”

“It’s simple,” the proposal explains, “weapons of war that enable more casualties during mass shootings should not be allowed on our streets and in our communities.”

So how does the Peace Plan define “weapons of war”?

It doesn’t.

The implications of such vagueness could be astronomical. A broad definition of “assault weapon,” as even left-leaning outlets like The Trace have reported, may include “any magazine-fed, semiautomatic rifle that incorporates other design features” — features that The Trace admits are “mostly for aesthetics.”

It’s difficult to say how many guns in America fit that definition, as statistics on semi-automatic gun ownership are hard to come by. What is clear, however, is that those weapons are popular.

Outlets as diverse as the National Rifle Association, CNN and NPR all refer to the popular AR-15 (a frequently cited “weapon of war”) as one of the most popular rifles in the country, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

The Free Beacon also reported that the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, estimates that there are over 16 million “modern sporting rifles” currently in circulation.

If Hogg and his organization wish to ban “assault weapons,” they will be faced with eliminating some of the most sought-after and well-loved firearms in America.

But the Peace Plan is far more than a blanket ban on “weapons of war”: It also includes a federal gun buy-back program with the goal of reducing “our domestic firearm stock by at least 30%.”

Once more, the plan does little to explain how the proposal would work. Would the buy-back be voluntary?

“To be clear: the implementation of an assault weapons ban should be a full mandatory buy-back of assault weapons, but we would also create programs to encourage voluntary civilian reduction of handguns and other firearms,” the Peace Plan reads.

While that language seems to indicate the government would forcibly purchase only “assault weapons,” the plan goes on to compare its agenda to Australia’s national buy-back policy — a mandatory (and much broader) program.

Whether through mandatory or voluntary buy-backs, reducing the amount of guns in the United States remains a tall order.

According to the global Small Arms Survey, there are 393 million civilian-owned firearms in America, The Washington Post reported last year.

That’s 120.5 guns for every 100 Americans — twice the rate of the next highest nation, Yemen (with 52.8 guns per 100 residents).

In other words, reducing the number of guns in America by 30 percent, as the Peace Plan aims to do, would mean eradicating over 100 million firearms.

There’s something uniquely American about widespread gun ownership. Whether you like that or not, buy-back programs are not likely to drastically reduce the country’s vast wealth of firearms.

Neither the ban nor the buy-back is a serious policy proposal grounded in statistical reality: They are measures that will attract publicity but afford few real results.

If March for Our Lives were interested in minimizing gun violence (or violent crime in general), banishing “assault weapons” from American life would be far from the most logical place to start.

While guns like AR-15s have been used in several high-profile mass shootings, they are responsible for many fewer fatalities than other weapons.

According to the most recent statistics from the FBI, rifles — a category much broader than just “assault weapons” — accounted for 403 murders in 2017. Handguns, by contrast, accounted for over 7,000.

Knives or cutting instruments” were the weapon of choice in 1,591 murders. And even “blunt objects” were responsible for more murders than rifles were.

Proposals like the Peace Plan for a Safer America just do not address the facts.

They are tailored to respond to mass shootings, and though their goals may be sincere, they are also severely misguided.

If America is to reduce gun violence, banning weapons like the AR-15 is a poor choice of strategy.

It may please Democratic voters — and provide campaign material for politicians with their sights on the White House — but it won’t do much else.

Author: Bradley Evans

Source: Western Journal: David Hogg Rolls Out Sweeping Plan Calling To Remove Roughly 100 Million Guns from Americans

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