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‘Innocent until proven guilty’: McCarthy says no punishment for Gaetz unless charges filed

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday told reporters that GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), who’s under federal investigation for sex trafficking allegations, is “innocent until proven guilty” and that Gaetz will not be punished unless charges are filed.

Asked during a Thursday press conference whether the scandal-racked Florida congressman would keep his seat on the House Judiciary Committee due to its oversight of the Justice Department, the House GOP leader said: “Matt Gaetz is the same as any American, he’s innocent until proven guilty. There’s no charges against him yet. If a charge comes forward, that will be dealt with at that time.”

MORE ON REP. GAETZ: ‘Women’ of Gaetz’s office sign letter defending congressman

The House GOP leader has previously vowed to strip Gaetz of his committee assignments if the allegations against the embattled congressman are proven to be true—specifically, that he had allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, potentially facing federal sex trafficking charges if found to be true.

Gaetz has denied the allegations against him, and refuses to resign from Congress.

MORE ON REP. GAETZ: First GOP lawmakers calls for Gaetz’s resignation

“I’ve spoken to Mr. Gaetz about the accusations. He’s told me he’s innocent of the accusations,” McCarthy also told reporters Thursday, adding: “I explained to Mr. Gaetz the rules inside our conference. If there was something to come forward, we would take action.”

“As of right now, Matt Gaetz says he is innocent, there’s an investigation going on and I’ll let the investigation take care of itself,” McCarthy said at another point during the press conference.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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