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South Dakota House moves to impeach AG after fatal crash

South Dakota House moves to impeach AG after fatal crash

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A photograph of Jason Ravnsborg's car taken some time after the Sept. 12 crash. 

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against the state's attorney general, who is facing misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car.

Republican lawmakers introduced a resolution in the House to impeach the state's top law enforcement officer, Jason Ravnsborg, after he indicated Monday he would not heed calls for his resignation.

The Republican attorney general faces three misdemeanor charges but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever.

Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday joined the chorus of people calling for him to step down.

"Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign," Noem said in a statement. She promised to release more details from the crash investigation.

It would take a simple majority to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate. There, it would require two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. Noem would get to appoint a replacement if Ravnsborg leaves or is removed from office.

The attorney general, who was elected to his first term in 2018, was driving home to Pierre from a Republican fundraiser late on Sept. 12 when he struck and killed Boever, who was walking on the shoulder of the highway. Ravnsborg initially told authorities that he thought he had struck a deer or another large animal and said he searched the unlit area with a cellphone flashlight. He said he didn't realize he had killed a man until the next day when he returned to the accident scene.

After an investigation that stretched over five months, prosecutors said they still had questions about the crash but were unable to file more serious criminal charges against Ravnsborg. They charged him with careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone.

Prosecutors found he was not using his phone at the time of the crash, but had been using it while driving about one minute before. The attorney general could face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine on each charge, if convicted.

Nearly five years after his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland finally received a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- this time, as President Bidens nominee for attorney general.Back in 2016, President Barack Obama's third Supreme Court pick was denied an opportunity to appear before the same committee by Senate Republicans, with the open seat eventually taken by Neil Gorsuch, nominated in 2017 by President Donald Trump.This time, Garlands nomination appears to carry broad bipartisan support.I think you are a very good pick for this job, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Garland Monday.But questions about political interference remain relevant amid an ongoing probe into surveillance in the 2016 election, and as the U.S. Attorney in Delaware continues an investigation into Hunter Biden's taxes. Less than a mile away, the department Garland is set to run continues its largest ongoing public investigation: into the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.One of the very first things that I will do is get a briefing on the progress of this investigation, Garland told the Judiciary Committee on Monday. I intend to make sure that we look more broadly at where this is coming from, what other groups there might be that could raise the same problem in the future. A final confirmation vote for Garland could come as soon as next week.

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