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Happening Today: Epstein, Dem Debate, Water Dousing, Budget Vote

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Mueller to Take Center Stage at Russia Probe Hearings

Jeffrey Epstein Set to Return to Court in Sex Abuse Case

Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein is set to return to court Wednesday to face sex trafficking charges just days after he was found injured in his cell. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman had scheduled the pretrial hearing before Epstein was found on the floor of his cell last week with neck bruises. It wasn't immediately clear how the injury occurred. The bruises weren't so serious that he was unable to remain at the Metropolitan Correction Center, which is adjacent to the downtown Manhattan courthouse. Epstein, accused of having sex with girls as young as age 14, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges that carry the potential for up to 45 years in prison.

Biden, Harris and 8 Other Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate

A full six months before the first votes are cast, the tug-of-war over the future of the party pits pragmatism against ideological purity as voters navigate a crowded Democratic field divided by age, race, sex and ideology. The fight with the political left was the dominant subplot on the first night of the second round of Democratic debates, which was notable as much for its tension as its substance. Ten more candidates will debate Wednesday after 10 already faced off Tuesday. The second night features early front-runner Joe Biden, the former vice president, as well as Kamala Harris, a California senator. There, Biden will fight to prove that his underwhelming performance during last month's opening debate was little more than an aberration. It won't be easy. The 76-year-old Democrat is expected to face new questions regarding his past policies and statements about women and minorities — both key constituencies he needs to claim the Democratic Party's nomination and ultimately defeat Trump.

NY Assemblymembers to Announce Legislation Making Throwing Water on Cops a Felony

Two elected officials are expected to join NYC and Long Island police officers on Wednesday to announce a new legislation that would make throwing water on cops a felony. The announcement comes after several people were arrested in separate caught-on-camera incidents where they doused buckets of water on NYPD officers in the Bronx and Manhattan earlier this month. A 24-year-old man, Robert Perez, was charged with harassment, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass in connection to the drenching of two police officers in the Bronx. His attorney didn't immediately response to request for comments. His arrest came two days after police made a round of arrests in connection with other dousings, which involved police getting soaked after responding to unruly neighborhood water fights during a recent spate of hot weather.

Republicans Face Tough Vote on Trump-Backed Budget Bill

A hard-won, warts-and-all budget pact between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump is facing a key vote in the GOP-held Senate, with many conservatives torn between supporting the president and risking their political brand with an unpopular vote to add $2 trillion or more to the government's credit card. The Trump-supported legislation backed by the Democratic speaker would also stave off a government shutdown and protect budget gains for both the Pentagon and popular domestic programs. It's attached to a must-do measure to lift the so-called debt limit to permit the government to borrow freely to pay its bills. For many Republicans it's a tough vote, expected Wednesday afternoon. The tea party-driven House GOP conference broke against it by a 2-1 margin, but most pragmatists see the measure as preferable to an alternative fall landscape of high-wire deadlines and potential chaos. The government otherwise would face a potential debt default, an Oct. 1 shutdown deadline, and the return in January of across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

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