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  • After his solid, broadly based victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Donald Trump now holds a commanding position in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But Trump still faces two “known unknowns,” to borrow the memorable phrase from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the Iraq War that Trump now excoriates. One is whether Trump has a ceiling of support. The second is whether, even if he does, any of his remaining rivals can unify enough of the voters resistant to him to beat him.
  • Four down, 12 more to go. On Monday, long-shot GOP candidate Lindsey Graham announced that he's suspending his presidential campaign. Though he claimed he had succeeded in pulling the GOP in a more hawkish direction, he admitted to CNN's Kate Bolduan that he's "hit a wall here" — and threw in the towel. Now, Graham's polling was absolutely dismal — he was below 2 percent even in his own home state of South Carolina. So it may seem absurd to claim that his withdrawal could make a difference in the race.
  • At last count, two congressional Republicans and a notable GOP staffer have admitted that their party’s Benghazi Committee is a partisan political exercise intended to undermine Hillary Clinton. The pressure’s starting to get to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said yesterday that Republicans not on the committee need to “shut up.” But as Clinton herself prepares to testify this week, the political conditions surrounding the controversial panel appear to be going from bad to worse. The Huffington Post reported yesterday:
  • The suspect in the shootings of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, was erroneously able to buy a gun due to a mix-up in a background check which should have revealed an admission of drug possession, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said on Friday. The examiner of suspect Dylann Roof's federal background check did not see a police report in which Roof admitted to drug possession, which would have barred him from buying the weapon, Comey told reporters at a briefing.
  • For the first time since the civil rights movement, the Confederate flag was removed entirely from the South Carolina Statehouse, in a swift ceremony Friday before thousands of people who cheered as the Civil War-era banner was lowered from a 30-foot flagpole. Many people believed the flag would fly indefinitely in this state, which was the first to leave Union, but the killing of nine black church members during a Bible study in Charleston last month changed that sentiment and reignited calls to bring down Confederate flags and symbols across the nation.
  • On June 17, a church in Charleston became the scene of horrific slaughter. White supremacist Dylann Roof allegedly murdered a beloved pastor and eight of his parishioners simply because they were black. Roof, his friends said, wanted to incite a race war. Instead, he incited a fierce debate over racism and the Confederate flag.
  • South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation on Thursday permanently removing the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds, following an emotional debate spurred by the massacre of nine black churchgoers last month. Haley signed the bill into law in the State House Rotunda before an audience of legislators and dignitaries shortly after 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), and her office said the flag would be taken down at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday. It will be taken to the "relic room" of a military museum in Columbia, the state capital.
  • The South Carolina House opened debate over the future of the Confederate flag Wednesday, deliberating a proposal that could remove the banner from the Capitol grounds, possibly before the end of the week. Lawmakers are under pressure to act after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley. If approved, it would consign the flag to the state's Confederate Relic Room.

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