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The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would require former felons to pay all court fees and costs in addition to restitution before becoming eligible to vote.

The measure passed 71-45, with the vote along party lines.

The proposal’s main sponsor, state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, argued that the bill — which would not restore voting rights to those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses — helps clarify a referendum on the issue that voters approved in November. He stressed that requiring ex-felons to pay the debts was not unconstitutional and not discriminatory, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

But state Democrats — as well as some Democratic candidates for president — slammed the proposal as a form of “poll tax” that would discriminate against minorities and the poor. Poll taxes were historically used in the 1890s to bar impoverished African-Americans in Southern states from voting by requiring them to pay a fee.

FLORIDA SENATE RACE BETWEEN SCOTT, NELSON EXPECTED TO BE COMPETITIVE, COSTLY

The referendum that passed in November was meant to end the disenfranchisement of more than 1 million felons who served their time, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., both of whom are seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, have slammed the bill, bringing national attention to the Florida plan.

“This is a poll tax,” Booker wrote Wednesday.

“Enough with the racist and unconstitutional efforts to deny people the right to vote,” Sanders wrote Wednesday. “If you are an American citizen you must be able to vote. End of discussion.”

Sanders sparked a furor Monday when he said during a CNN Town Hall event that even convicted criminals like Boston Maraton bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be allowed to vote from prison. President Trump’s campaign fired back that Sanders’ position was “deeply offensive.”

“The extremity and radicalism of the 2020 Democrats knows no bounds,” Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News. “Giving imprisoned terrorists, sex offenders, and murderers the right to vote is an outrageous proposal that is deeply offensive to innocent victims across this country, some of whom lost their lives and are forever disenfranchised by the very killers that 2020 Democrats seek to empower.”

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While the Florida House version of the bill requires all court fees and restitution be paid, the Senate version calls for ex-felons to pay only restitution, the Miami Herald reported. The Senate will have to deliberate which version, if either, will advance to the governor’s desk.

Fox News’ Sally Persons and Alex Pappas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is now a millionaire, had called millionaire senators “immoral” when he first ran for Senate in the 1970s.

On Wednesday, CNN dug up a 1971 issue of the Bennington Banner, a local Vermont newspaper that reported on then-Liberty Union Party Senate candidate Sanders, who declared it was “immoral” that half the U.S. senators at the time were millionaires and insisted that they represented “the interests of corporations and big business — their fellow millionaires.”

As the paper reported, Sanders also proposed to replace each lawmaker’s pay with the average income of his or her home state.

As CNN reported, $1 million in 1971 is roughly $6.2 million in 2019 taking inflation into account. At least 70 percent of senators were millionaires in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Earlier this month, Sanders confirmed he’s a millionaire, attributing it to the success of his 2016 book, “Our Revolution.”

A campaign spokesman for Sanders told CNN, “Yes, it is true: Senator Sanders said in the 1970s that it is immoral that the government too often represents the interests of the super-wealthy and large corporations — and yes, it is also true that Senator Sanders has continued to demand a change from that for his entire life.”

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“As the son of an immigrant who grew up living paycheck to paycheck, Senator Sanders believes elected officials should represent the interests of working people, not corporations, special interests or the ultra-wealthy,” Sanders senior advisor Josh Orton said. “This view has guided his work in politics, not the pursuit of personal wealth. Senator Sanders’ family has been fortunate, and he is grateful for that because he knows the stress of economic insecurity. That is why he works every day to ensure every American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent housing, health care and retirement security.”

The Sanders presidential campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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Amid the fallout of Robert Mueller’s investigation, Congressman Mark Green, R-Tenn, has called the subsequent investigations by Democrats a “massive leveraging of the legislative branch against the executive branch” which, in his opinion, constitutes a “ridiculous abuse of power.”

In the days since a full, redacted version of the Mueller report was released last Thursday, continued discussions about the possibility of impeachment proceedings have been brought up amongst Democrats as they investigate various elements of the President’s life and attempt to determine whether he actually obstructed justice throughout Mueller’s probe.

“Nearly every single Democrat committee chairman is investigating some aspect of the president,” Rep. Green, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said during an appearance on “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday afternoon.

DEMOCRATS’ EXTREME 2020 POLICIES ON ABORTION, IMMIGRATION ARE PLAYING INTO TRUMP’S REELECTION, ANALYST SAYS

FORMER CLINTON ADVISER, FIERCE CRITIC OF SANDERS NOW PRAISES 2020 CAMPAIGN

“You look at ways and means. They are looking at his taxes. The finance services, they’re looking at Deutsche Bank. Oversight is looking at Mr. Klein. Judiciary is looking at McGahn. Intel is looking at collusion,” he continued.

“This is a ridiculous abuse of power. They’re leveraging the legislative branch against the executive branch,” he said.

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He continued by arguing that despite extensive investigations by leading Democrats, the party has little to show for it. In addition, President Trump wants to reach across party lines to discuss big issues like immigration, but Democrats aren’t interested, Green said.

“We can get this done, and they just want to keep investigating the president,” he said. “For them, it’s 2020 talking points and that’s it.”

Ultimately, Democrats will pay for that at the polls, Green argued.

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Elizabeth Warren openly sparred with Amazon in a series of pointed tweets on Tuesday, just hours after she admitted during a nationally televised town hall that she still shops at the e-commerce giant — even though she wants it broken up, along with a slew of other major tech companies.

Warren kicked off the spat on Monday by reiterating her argument that Amazon abuses its control over the Amazon Marketplace, which hosts third-party sellers, to improve its own retail operations and unfairly disadvantage the third-party sellers.

“Giant tech companies have too much power,” Warren wrote Monday night, embedding a clip of her remarks at the town hall. “My plan to #BreakUpBigTech prevents corporations like Amazon from knocking out the rest of the competition. You can be an umpire, or you can be a player — but you can’t be both.”

In response, the official Amazon News Twitter account wrote Tuesday afternoon that third-party sellers have been doing better than ever.

WARREN VOWS TO SPEND $640B TO PAY OFF STUDENT DEBT — WHAT ABOUT CREDIT CARD DEBT, VET BILLS, OR MORTGAGES?!

“[S]ellers aren’t being ‘knocked out’ — they’re seeing record sales every year,” Amazon wrote, after denying that it uses third-party sellers’ data to boost its own products. “Also, Walmart is much larger; Amazon is less than 4% of U.S. retail.”

“Oh boy,” Warren shot back. “Here are the facts.”

The Massachusetts senator then cited “reports” that Amazon used third-party seller data to make its own products successful, and linked to Bloomberg News and Wall Street Journal articles on the topic.

Warren also alleged that Amazon sought to “deliberately misconstrue” its near-50 percent market share in online retail, by instead using brick-and-mortar numbers.

Asked at a CNN town hall on Monday to identify her last Amazon purchase, Warren said she bought a mailbox.

But even though she shops at Jeff Bezos’ mega-retailer, Warren told host Anderson Cooper that breaking up Amazon would lead to “a lot more competition where little businesses have a chance to get going.”

In addition to Amazon, Warren previously said she wanted to break up Google, Facebook, and Apple.

Speaking to The Verge at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference last month in Austin, Texas, Warren specifically demanded that Apple must be forced either to surrender control over the App Store or to stop selling its own apps within it.

“Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other,” Warren said. “Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time.”

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She elaborated: “If you run a platform where others come to sell, then you don’t get to sell your own items on the platform because you have two comparative advantages. One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to to sell. And second, you have the capacity — because you run the platform — to prefer your product over anyone else’s product. It gives an enormous comparative advantage to the platform.”

Warren asserted that similar antitrust principles were “applied to railroad companies more than a hundred years ago,” and that “we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi encourages House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and “his minions” to continue their pursuit of President Trump “as if he’s the most significant threat to our national security instead of our adversaries.”

Turner added that it is “certainly interrupting real congressional work that needs to be done.”

“The intelligence committee should be working on issues such as Russia and China, North Korea and Iran” instead of focusing on Trump, he said.

DEM LEADERS REJECT IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS IN URGENT CONFERENCE CALL

Turner made the statements on “America’s Newsroom” a day after House Democrats participated in a conference call with party leadership to discuss their next steps after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.

While some have pushed for impeachment, Pelosi, D-Calif., already has stated her opposition to launching impeachment proceedings, saying in an interview last week it would  be “divisive” and “just not worth it.”

“The Constitution gives very limited authority for Congress to remove a president, impeachment. It requires crimes and high misdemeanors. The founding fathers could have drafted the Constitution to say that Congress could remove the president if they just didn’t like them. But that’s not the case. They cannot just put political party or their own political wishes above the electorate which viably elected the president of the United States,” Turner said.

MUELLER PROBE HAS COST TAXPAYERS MORE THAN $25 MILLION, SPENDING REPORT REVEALS

Fox News is told by two senior sources on the private conference call that Pelosi and her leadership team were clear there were no immediate plans to move forward with impeachment. Well-placed sources said it was a spirited 87-minute call involving more than 170 Democratic members, including Schiff.

“We have to save our democracy,” Pelosi said during the call, according to the sources. “This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy. If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution – if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.”

Pelosi asserted that more investigations were needed: “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.”

“In this instance, we see that Congress is now saying through Nancy Pelosi that they’re going to continue their investigations. Congress does have a limited authority in which to investigate the president. I think we’re probably going to see a lot of court interpretation as to where congressional authority ends and where it begins,” Turner said in response.

“You can’t just begin to investigate a president for the purposes of seeking reasons to remove him. In this instance, I think that people need to stop putting political party ahead of the interests of the American public.”

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Turner added, “Congress needs to get back to work to see how we can improve the lives of the American public, not just improve their political parties.”

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I begin this column at a distinct disadvantage.

I am, yes, a white male.

So for me to examine the question of whether the Democrats should avoid nominating someone of my ilk, I must search my soul, ignore my heritage, and check my white privilege at the door.

Look, I think diversity in politics (and elsewhere in society) is great. It’s healthy that such candidates as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker are running.

SANDERS BACKERS UPSET WITH PETE BUTTIGIEG OVER TRUMP COMPARISON

But how do we move from that breakthrough to the notion that nominating anyone who’s not a minority or a woman is insufficiently woke?

How do we get to this headline on a New York Times news story: “Should a White Man Be the Face of the Democratic Party in 2020?”

‘Tis true that 44 of our 45 presidents have been in the white male category. Barack Obama broke that monopoly in 2008. Hillary Clinton thought she was going to break it on the gender side in 2016 and fell short. The Democrats haven’t nominated a white male for president since 2004.

But does that mean such politicians should start out with two strikes against them?

The debate is rooted in the fact that the four Bs who seem to be leading the Democratic field are all white men: Biden, Bernie, Beto and Buttigieg.

BETO O’ROURKE, NO LONGER THE SHINY NEW CANDIDATE, SAYS HE’S STILL ‘IN A GOOD PLACE’

Kamala may be in that pack as well, at least if early polls and fundraising are the yardsticks.

I’m hearing some female commentators complain that women never get the kind of swooning media coverage that Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke have been drawing.

I would argue that they are attracting media praise because they’re unconventional candidates with unorthodox styles (the top female and minority candidates are all, well, senators). Mayor Pete has the novelty of being a gay candidate. But both could easily fade, and two top Beto aides just quit a campaign whose media glow is dimming.

What’s more, says the Times, O’Rourke “has acknowledged that he benefits from white male privilege.” (Um, what’s he supposed to say to that?)

As for the others, Harris had the strongest launch. Booker is finding his message of love not quite resonating in an angry era. Klobuchar has drawn compliments from conservatives but has a low-key midwestern style. Gillibrand isn’t making much news.

And Warren has by far offered the most detailed policy prescriptions — she called yesterday for free public college tuition and forgiveness of much student debt — but hasn’t generated much excitement and is lagging in fundraising. Is that because she’s a woman? Warren has gotten positive press since her days as a consumer advocate.

ELIZABETH WARREN DOUBLES DOWN ON TRUMP IMPEACHMENT PUSH, SAYS IT’S ‘BIGGER THAN POLITICS’

To jump-start a stalled campaign, she called for Donald Trump’s impeachment over the weekend, knowing full well it’s not going to happen. But it separated her from the pack and got her some attention, which is how it works. Gender was not a factor.

The Times piece says that “Democrats have seen the strong diversity in their field … become somewhat overshadowed by white male candidates.”

And after noting that non-white-male candidates helped the Dems win the House, the paper asks: “What’s the bigger gamble: to nominate a white man and risk disappointing some of the party’s base, or nominate a minority candidate or a woman who might struggle to carry predominantly white swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that both Barack Obama and President Trump won?”

Biden (who’s getting in this week) and Sanders have other advantages besides their whiteness, says the Times: They’re well-known, have run before and can raise big bucks.

“But as older white men, they are out of step with ascendant forces in the party today.”

I get it. They’re not exactly fresh faces. But some Democrats, at least, still like them.

Ever since women got the vote, they haven’t been taken all that seriously as presidential candidates, at least until Hillary’s first campaign.

And for most of our history since the Civil War, the idea of a black president was deemed unthinkable — at least until Obama beat Hillary 11 years ago. That was the legacy of discrimination. And it hasn’t entirely vanished.

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But — and I’ll say this carefully — isn’t it also a discriminatory impulse to say perhaps a white male candidate should be denied the nomination on the grounds of race and sex? Doesn’t that go against what we’ve always heard about wanting a color-blind and gender-neutral society?

Hey, nobody needs to feel sorry for these guys. Demographics change and they have to adapt or perish.

Yet in the end, this is a bunch of media chatter. One of the candidates — black or white, male or female — will connect with enough voters and mount a compelling enough campaign to become the standard-bearer. And I suspect Democratic voters will care most about beating the white male in the White House.

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2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday defended his stance for granting voting rights to criminals in prison, including the Boston Marathon bomber and convicted sexual assaulters.

During a CNN town hall on Monday night, Harvard student Anne Carlstein asked if his position would support “enfranchising people” like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who she noted is a “convicted terrorist and murderer,” as well as those “convicted of sexual assault,” whose votes could have a “direct impact on women’s rights.”

Sanders first responded by saying he wanted a “vibrant democracy” with “higher voter turnout” and blasted “cowardly Republican governors” who he said were “trying to suppress the vote.”

The Vermont senator then argued that the Constitution says “everybody can vote” and that “some people in jail can vote.”

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SEN. BERNIE SANDERS

“If somebody commits a serious crime- sexual assault, murder, they’re gonna be punished. They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That’s what happens when you commit a serious crime,” Sanders elaborated.

“But, I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘That guy committed a terrible crime, not gonna let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not gonna let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope. So, I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price. When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right the vote, but I do believe that even if they are in jail, they’re paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”

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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo pressed the Democrats’ frontrunner, asking him if he was “sure about that” since he effectively was “writing an opposition ad.” Sanders dismissed such concerns, saying he’d written “many 30-second opposition ads” throughout his life.

“This is what I believe. Do you believe in democracy? Do you believe that every single American 18 years of age or older who is an American citizen has the right to vote?” Sanders continued. “This is a democracy. We’ve got to expand that democracy and I believe that every single person does have the right to vote.”

Source: Fox News Politics

2020 presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., saw a couple of viral moments during a televised town hall on Monday night.

The first: what critics and analysts have called her “please clap” moment. Klobuchar was boasting that in each of her elections she won every congressional district in her state, including that of former Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican.

After the audience didn’t react to her victories, Klobuchar gave them permission to be excited.

“It’s when you guys are supposed to cheer, okay?” Klobuchar grinned, which prompted applause and some laughter.

Many on social media have drawn comparisons to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who famously told a town hall crowd to “please clap” on the campaign trail during the 2016 election.

STIREWALT: TRUMP SUPPORTERS UNFAZED BY MUELLER REPORT RELEASE

Later on, the Minnesota Democrat had an awkward encounter with CNN anchor and town hall moderator Chris Cuomo.

While discussing how to address climate change with rural voters, Klobuchar stressed how important it was and told Cuomo that she wanted to “finish” her thought before he interrupted.

She then, however, felt a little creeped out by Cuomo’s presence.

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“I feel you creeping over my shoulder,” Klobuchar told the CNN anchor. She jokingly clarified, “not in a Trumpian manner.”

Klobuchar was referring to the second presidential debate in 2016. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later accused then-candidate Donald Trump of being a “creep” for approaching behind her on the debate stage and claimed her “skin crawled” in her memoir, “What Happened.”

Source: Fox News Politics

As a handful of top Democrats have called for the impeachment of President Trump, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt noted Monday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report may not sway the American people as the president’s opponents might expect.

“And, the question here is, would the American people countenance an impeachment. And, the answer is probably no, because there’s nothing that anyone who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 could have read in the Mueller report, scuzzy as much of it was, unsettling as much of it was, that wasn’t already baked into their consideration of Donald Trump,” Stirewalt said on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Stirewalt was discussing the most important question to ask for those considering impeachment of President Trump, saying pursuing that route was a “nonstarter.”

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“He didn’t exactly run as Pope Francis in 2016, right, people knew a lot of this kind of stuff about his character before he ran, that’s why I think it is a nonstarter,” Stirewalt told Bret Baier.

House Democrats backed off the idea of immediately launching impeachment proceedings against Trump in a conference call Monday evening, amid a growing rift among the party’s rank-and-file members, presidential contenders and committee chairs on the issue.

Two senior sources told Fox News that on the conference call, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told her fellow Democrats that while she personally favored going forward with impeachment proceedings, she was not pushing for other members to join her.

Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York also noted that the timing of impeachment would make the political climate “crazy.”

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“One last thing that the leadership is aware of, the timing of this will be crazy. If the Democrats start now, it will take a while to rev up the impeachment machine, and when they get going, we will be smack in the middle of a presidential election campaign where the impeachee is running for reelection,” York said Monday.

“Doing this in the middle of a campaign would put the whole process on steroids. It’s crazy enough to begin with. The leadership is very worried about just the unpredictable aspect of that.”

Fox News’ Bret Baier, Mike Emanuel and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

As a handful of top Democrats have called for the impeachment of President Trump, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt noted Monday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report may not sway the American people as the president’s opponents might expect.

“And, the question here is, would the American people countenance an impeachment. And, the answer is probably no, because there’s nothing that anyone who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 could have read in the Mueller report, scuzzy as much of it was, unsettling as much of it was, that wasn’t already baked into their consideration of Donald Trump,” Stirewalt said on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Stirewalt was discussing the most important question to ask for those considering impeachment of President Trump, saying pursuing that route was a “nonstarter.”

TOP DEM DISMISSES POSSIBILITY OF COLLUSION FATIGUE: ‘THE RUSSIANS AREN’T GETTING TIRED’

“He didn’t exactly run as Pope Francis in 2016, right, people knew a lot of this kind of stuff about his character before he ran, that’s why I think it is a nonstarter,” Stirewalt told Bret Baier.

House Democrats backed off the idea of immediately launching impeachment proceedings against Trump in a conference call Monday evening, amid a growing rift among the party’s rank-and-file members, presidential contenders and committee chairs on the issue.

Two senior sources told Fox News that on the conference call, House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told her fellow Democrats that while she personally favored going forward with impeachment proceedings, she was not pushing for other members to join her.

Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York also noted that the timing of impeachment would make the political climate “crazy.”

TRUMP RAILS AGAINST ‘BULLS—‘ IN MUELLER REPORT

“One last thing that the leadership is aware of, the timing of this will be crazy. If the Democrats start now, it will take a while to rev up the impeachment machine, and when they get going, we will be smack in the middle of a presidential election campaign where the impeachee is running for reelection,” York said Monday.

“Doing this in the middle of a campaign would put the whole process on steroids. It’s crazy enough to begin with. The leadership is very worried about just the unpredictable aspect of that.”

Fox News’ Bret Baier, Mike Emanuel and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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