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Latest from Jamie Dupree

    Demanding that Democrats accept his call for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald Trump sparred with top Democrats in Congress in an extraordinary scene played out before television cameras in the Oval Office on Tuesday, as the President said he would be happy to see a partial government funding lapse over border security. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” the President said in what quickly escalated into a bitter back and forth between the President, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government,” the President made clear at several points in the photo op, which left reporters stunned as they left the Oval Office. CLIP: Exchange between President Trump, @NancyPelosi & @SenSchumer on border security and government shutdown. Watch full video here: https://t.co/5Y6NEITjCe pic.twitter.com/kVmcJKkEbx — CSPAN (@cspan) December 11, 2018 Several times, Pelosi tried to turn the discussion away from the differences between the two parties, urging all sides to debate in private. But that didn’t work, as the President jabbed at the likely next Speaker of the House. “It’s not easy for her to talk right now,” Mr. Trump said, apparently alluding to Pelosi’s efforts to nail down the final votes from fellow Democrats to make her Speaker. “Nancy, we gained in the Senate,” the President said at one point, interrupting Pelosi multiple times. “Excuse me, did we win the Senate?” Here is the full photo op: One thing left unsaid by the President is that it’s not clear if GOP leaders have enough votes in the House to approve the $5 billion in wall funding. Five of the 12 funding bills for the federal government have already been approved – so any funding lapse on December 21 would impact some – but not all – of the federal government. The military, Congress, the VA, military construction, energy and water programs, health, education and labor agencies have all been funded – but many like NASA, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, Interior and others have not.
  • Taking flak from both parties in his first testimony on Capitol Hill, the head of Google denied charges from Republican lawmakers that his company produces politically biased search results, and tussled with other lawmakers worried about the amount of location data taken in by Google from consumers when using the company’s apps and search engine. GOP lawmakers said too often a simple search about a Republican legislative initiative brings back nothing which would be considered non-partisan. “Article after article opposing the Republican tax cut,” complained Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), as he joined a series of GOP lawmakers in saying that Google was clearly placing its thumb on the political scale in terms of what comes back in searches. But the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, repeatedly denied that Google was doing anything intentionally. “I lead this company without political bias; we work to insure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would be against our core principles and business interests.” The complaints on what came up on search results was not limited just to Republicans, as Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said that when he did a news search on his name, what popped up was mainly conservative news sites. “It looks like you are overly using conservative news organizations on your news,” Cohen complained. “I’d like you to look into that.” On the issue of privacy, Pichai again faced bipartisan concern, as lawmakers expressed some befuddlement at how much information Google takes from users – especially location information – making the case that it is difficult for the average consumer to turn off those functions, to preserve their privacy. At hearing discussing political bias accusations, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) asks Google CEO Sundar Pichai to explain how a picture of Donald Trump comes up when looking up the term 'idiot' under images and how search results work https://t.co/UnnwgPQFqO pic.twitter.com/oqRmMeWzW5 — CBS News (@CBSNews) December 11, 2018 “When it comes to data collection, can you commit to improve the dashboard transparency and tools on how to protect privacy?” pressed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). “It’s an area we want to do better,” Pichai said, explaining that Google needs to ‘simplify’ those dashboards for consumers. “Does Google track my movement? It’s either yes or no,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). “It’s not a trick question,” as Poe dug into one of the basic issues – should consumers be forced to opt in or opt out – when it comes to Google platforms and consumer information.
  • Facing a December 21 funding deadline, the top two Democrats in Congress go to the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump, with little in the way of obvious answers on how they will find middle ground on the President’s demand for $5 billion in a year-end funding deal to build the President’s wall along the border with Mexico. “When President Trump proposed this as a candidate, he said, ‘Mark my words, I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall,'” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said in recent days, making it clear his party wants to part of funding the wall. “Most of us, speaking for myself, consider the wall immoral, ineffective and expensive,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, as she and other Democrats keep reminding the White House that this was not what the President promised during the 2016 campaign. “The President said – he promised – he also promised Mexico would pay for it,” Pelosi told reporters. What Democrats say they will accept is funding for the Department of Homeland Security totaling $1.6 billion again in 2019 – but that would be for the more generic ‘border security’ like fencing – but not for the border wall. “The $1.6 billion cannot be used to construct any part of President Trump’s 30 foot tall concrete border wall,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. The hard truth for the White House is that Republicans would be hard-pressed to approve a bill in either the House or Senate which has money for the border wall right now – let alone find the 60 votes needed in the Senate to advance such a plan. That’s why Democrats have proposed letting Congress agree to final deals worked out on six major funding bills for the federal government – and just leave in place the 2018 budget for the Department of Homeland Security – which has no money for the border wall. That is not acceptable to the President, one reason there is a chance for a funding lapse on December 21, and a partial government shutdown. Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country losses 250 Billion Dollars a year on illegal immigration, not including the terrible drug flow. Top Border Security, including a Wall, is $25 Billion. Pays for itself in two months. Get it done! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018 “Congress must fully fund border security in the year-ending funding bill,” the President said in a speech in Kansas City last Friday. “We have to, we have to get this done,” as the President took aim at Democrats and their opposition to the wall. “They’re playing games. They’re playing political games,” Mr. Trump added. And for now, it is a game of Legislative Chicken, with a December 21 deadline fast approaching.
  • Even as President Donald Trump again denounced the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any ties to his campaign as a ‘witch hunt,’ federal prosecutors on Monday reached a plea bargain agreement with a Russian woman accused of illegal political activity in the U.S., and the Special Counsel’s office prepared to reveal details of alleged lies by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The federal judge overseeing Manafort’s case suddenly scheduled a status hearing for Tuesday afternoon, as Robert Mueller’s office is expected to publicly file a redacted version of a report on what lies the government claims that Manafort told investigators, even after agreeing to cooperate with the Russia investigation. As he did with earlier procedural actions in a Washington federal courtroom, Manafort waived his right to be at the Tuesday hearing, again saying the time involved in being transported from prison to the D.C. courthouse was not worth the effort. List of things happening this week, so far: Manafort sentencing hearing – Tuesday Butina plea hearing – Wednesday Cohen sentencing hearing – Wednesday And the list will likely grow. — Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) December 10, 2018 While Manafort suddenly had a Tuesday court hearing scheduled, there were new developments on Monday in the case of 29 year old Maria Butina, who has been jailed since July, charged with illegal political activity in the United States, amid questions related to her ties to the National Rifle Association and the GOP. It was not immediately apparent what was involved in Butina’s change of heart, as a federal judge set a plea hearing for Wednesday afternoon, several hours after the scheduled sentencing in New York for former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen. Democrats continued Monday to raise questions about Butina and the NRA, as well as the broader issue of whether Russian money was funneled through the NRA and into the 2016 campaign for President. “Maria Butina is set to plead guilty based on her efforts to influence American politics through the NRA,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). “There is still a lot we don’t know about the NRA’s campaign spending and connections to the Kremlin.” “Another bad day for Individual-1 and his inner circle,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Dear @NRA: Now I know why you refused to answer the letter I wrote with other Members of Congress in March about Russian efforts to influence you. Will the Maria Butina plea expose what you are hiding in your clenched fist? Oh, and I have 3 words for you: January is coming. https://t.co/TPbshZtXDJ — Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 10, 2018 Back in 2015, Butina happened to appear at a Q&A session with then candidate Donald Trump, and asked him a question about U.S. relations with Russia. The Butina case was not brought by Mueller, but instead by the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. – but it still could have an overall impact on the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.
  • Three days after federal prosecutors in New York said the President directed his former personal lawyer to pay off two women in an effort to keep them quiet before the 2016 election, President Donald Trump rejected the assertion that the thousands of dollars funneled through Michael Cohen could be construed in any way as a violation of federal campaign election laws, a matter which some experts believe could put the President in legal jeopardy. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun,” the President tweeted before sunrise on Monday. “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution.” But in a sentencing memo released Friday evening, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York argued that Cohen ‘played a central role’ – in a plan directed and coordinated by the President – to suppress the stories of two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and “thereby prevent them from influencing the election.” “Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the SDNY wrote in their sentencing memo. “Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.” On Fox News, legal analyst Andrew McCarty – often a sympathetic voice for the President on the Russia investigation – left the hosts of ‘Fox and Friends’ stunned by openly predicting that President Trump would be indicted on that charge. “It’s clear that Trump is the target, and that he’ll be indicted eventually,” McCarthy said. In his Monday tweet – as in past tweets – the President denied the payoffs orchestrated by Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, had anything to do with his campaign. Back in May, the President characterized the payment going to Stormy Daniels as a non-disclosure agreement – a ‘private contract’ – similar to the language he used today, in calling it a ‘private transaction.’ But federal prosecutors allege it was all tied to the Trump Campaign, with the President fully involved in the decisions. “In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the SDNY wrote, using the legal moniker for President Trump in court documents. The President ridiculed that notion. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,… — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018 ….which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018 The President has repeatedly said that Cohen is lying to prosecutors, in order to get his sentenced reduced. Some critics of the President have said the SDNY evidence – from Cohen’s own guilty plea – basically makes the President an unindicted co-conspirator at this point. “It looks like a pretty good case,” said George Conway, the fierce Trump critic – and husband of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway.
  • House Republicans on Saturday released a transcript of their private interview on Friday with former FBI Director James Comey, detailing a lengthy closed door skirmish between Comey and GOP lawmakers over the origin of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and how Comey dealt with the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as Secretary of State. It was the first of two private sessions, as Comey is scheduled to return to Congress on December 17. Because there were no television cameras, the transcript is the only way to get a bead on what was said in the interview, which was not under oath, but where Comey was bluntly warned to be truthful. Under the agreement, Comey was allowed to speak out after the hearing – but lawmakers were not. Today wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president. They came up empty today but will try again. In the long run, it'll make no difference because facts are stubborn things. — James Comey (@Comey) December 8, 2018 So what does the 235 pages of the transcript show? Here’s some tidbits to chew on. 1. When Comey hears “Russia investigation,” it’s two distinct probes. Asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the overall Russia probe, Comey indicated that he sees things differently than many. To him, there are two complimentary investigations going on: 1) dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and 2) the counterintelligence probes aimed at people with ties to the Trump campaign who were in touch with Russians or Russian government assets. “We opened investigations on four Americans to see if there was any connection between those four Americans and the Russian interference effort. And those four Americans did not include the candidate,” Comey added. He did not identify the four who were under review, as Comey refused to answer a number of specific questions related to the Russia probe. 2. What does the term ‘collusion’ mean to Comey? In the back and forth between Comey and GOP lawmakers, at one point Comey was pressed to define the word ‘collusion,’ which has become a central flashpoint of the Russia investigation. Often supporters of the President point out that there is no crime called ‘collusion’ – and Comey says he’s not familiar with the term, either. “What is the crime of collusion? I do not know,” Comey said in response to a question from Rep. Gowdy. Comey then gives his review of what collusion means to him with regards to the Russia probe: “I think in terms of conspiracy or aiding and abetting.” Cummings asked Comey how serious it is that Flynn lied about foreign contacts. COMEY: 'The reason it's a big deal is you have an adversary nation attacking America. If Americans in our country are assisting them, it's aiding and abetting the enemy in attacking our country' — Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) December 8, 2018 3. Comey says Flynn did lie, even if he didn’t look it. Supporters of the President have made a big deal out of the evaluation of FBI agents that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn didn’t seem like he was lying about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador during the Trump transition. Pressed about that by Rep. Gowdy, Comey said it was clear that Flynn was lying. “I recall saying the agents observed no indicia of deception, physical manifestations, shiftiness, that sort of thing,” Comey testified, as he summed up by saying of Flynn, “There’s no doubt he was lying.” 4. Comey says he saw no bias from Strzok in Clinton probe. In an answer that is certain to leave many Republican critics fuming, Comey said he did not personally see any evidence that FBI official Peter Strzok was biased against President Trump. To buttress that argument, Comey talked about how Strzok helped draft the controversial letter that was sent to Congress just before the 2016 elections, which said the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails was being re-opened. “So it’s hard for me to see how he was on Team Clinton secretly at that time,” Comey said, as he also reiterated a point made by Strzok in his combative testimony – that Strzok was one of the few people who knew about the investigations into Trump-Russia links, and that Strzok never leaked that information to the press or public. Comey though did say that based on the texts from Strzok, he would have taken Strzok off the Trump-Russia investigation. Comey points out obvious: How could Pete Strzok be on team HRC if he helped draft the letter Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016 – days before the election. Many folks think that letter damaged her chances to become president. pic.twitter.com/NOk9ulOu1j — Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) December 8, 2018 5. Comey: I’m not buddies with Robert Mueller. One refrain from President Trump is that Mueller can’t be trusted with his probe because he and Comey are friends. “Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest,” the President tweeted on Friday, just a few hours before Comey went to Capitol Hill for his closed door questioning. So, Democrats asked Comey – are you friends with Mueller? “I am not,” Comey said, telling lawmakers he doesn’t know Mueller’s phone number, and has no relation with him ‘in any social sense.’ But Comey made clear he is a believer in Mueller. “There are not many things I would bet my life on. I would bet my life that Bob Mueller will do things the right way, the way we would all want, whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, the way Americans should want,” Comey said. X. Comey okayed leak investigation involving Giuliani. In the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, Comey testified that he was concerned by a ‘number of stories’ and leaks about Hillary Clinton, which he believed were coming from the New York Field Office of the FBI – and were going to people like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a campaign booster for President Trump. “Mr. Giuliani was making statements that appeared to be based on his knowledge of workings inside the FBI New York,” Comey told lawmakers, as the former FBI chief said it seemed to him that the bureau had an ‘unauthorized disclosure problem’ – “so I asked that it be investigated.” Comey said he ordered a leak probe after Giuliani made public statements that indicated he had inside knowledge of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails https://t.co/4fJYZneWX7 — The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 9, 2018
  • In a trio of documents submitted to judges on Friday evening in New York and Washington, federal prosecutors accused President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort of lying repeatedly to investigators even after agreeing to cooperate in the Russia investigation, and suggested a four year prison term for the President’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, while acknowledging his extensive help in the Russia probe by the Special Counsel’s office. “Manafort told multiple discernible lies,” Special Counsel Robert Mueller told a judge, “these were not instances of memory lapses.” In a 10 page document, the Special Counsel also detailed how Manafort had been in contact with Trump Administration officials during 2018, even though he denied such contacts to investigators. “The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts,” the Special Counsel wrote, saying that Manafort had used texts, third parties, and other electronic communications for such contacts as recently as May 26, 2018. There were no details offered on what Manafort was discussing in those communications, or the identities of the Administration officials. For those critics of the President who were looking for a blizzard of new information about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any ties to the Trump campaign, the Special Counsel did not deliver, as part of the Manafort document was redacted, and other evidence was not publicly detailed. “If the defendant contends the government has not acted in good faith, the government is available to prove the false statements at a hearing,” Mueller’s team wrote. In between blacked out portions of the court filing on Manafort were phrases like this: + “Manafort lied repeatedly about…” + “Manafort provided different explanations…” + “Manafort first denied that he had…” + “Manafort then acknowledged…” + “After being told of such evidence, Manafort conceded…” Evidence to support the claim that Manafort made multiple false statements was filed under seal, to keep it secret. Meanwhile, the government’s submissions on Michael Cohen offered dueling legal portraits of the President’s former personal lawyer, who has flipped on Mr. Trump. Documents from federal prosecutors in New York and the Special Counsel’s office in Washington portrayed Cohen as someone who intentionally lied to deflect from investigations of the President, but who also is now cooperating with the feds on possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. “The defendant’s crime was serious, both in terms of the underlying conduct and its effect on multiple government investigations,” the office of Special Counsel argued, going over Cohen’s lies to Congress and investigators about the extent of contacts during the 2016 campaign between the Trump Organization and Russians. But as prosecutors from the Southern District of New York asked for a jail term around four years for Cohen, they made clear that while Cohen may be helping Mueller right now, he was not providing the same type of cooperation on investigations in Manhattan. “Cohen’s efforts,” the SDNY wrote “fell well short of cooperation, as that term is properly used in this District.” But Mueller’s office made clear that along with providing information on how women – who claimed they had an affair with President Trump were paid to keep silent – that Cohen has also provided insights into the Russia investigation. One item which kept popping up in the Cohen documents was the actions of “Individual-1,” which is the legal moniker for the President of the United States. The documents described how Cohen acted in concert, and at the direction of “Individual-1” in paying off two women before the 2016 election; they also described how Cohen lied to Congress in order to keep investigators from finding out that contacts between the Trump Organization and Russians about a major business project in Moscow had gone on deep into the 2016 campaign. “The defendant’s crime was serious,” the Special Counsel reported. “The defendant’s lies to Congress were deliberate and premeditated.” If there was any doubt about the identity of “Individual-1,” the feds spelled it out. “On approximately June 16, 2015, Individual-1, for whom Cohen worked at the time, began an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States,” the document stated blandly. Back at the White House, the President had moved away from a tweet storm of attacks on Mueller from earlier in the day, as he wrapped things up with one quick thought. “Totally clears the President,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Thank you!” Critics of the President disagreed. “The United States Department of Justice filing today with the court leads to the unmistakable conclusion that President of the United States has committed felonies,” said Walter Dellinger, a former top Justice Department official during the Clinton Administration. “This will mark the beginning of the end.” “In trouble: Individual-1,” tweeted law professor Orin Kerr. “Also in trouble: John Barron,” Kerr added, using the fake name employed for years by Trump with reporters when he would cast himself as his own spokesman in phone conversations with journalists.
  • Amid reports that his White House Chief of Staff might be on his way out, President Donald Trump on Friday said he will nominate former U.S. Attorney General William Barr to serve in that post again, as the President also publicly insulted his former Secretary of State, hours after Rex Tillerson offered a less than flattering review of his time working in the Trump Cabinet. “A terrific person, a terrific man,” the President said of Barr, who served as Attorney General for the first President Bush. “He was my first choice from day one,” the President said. “Respected by Republicans and respected by Democrats.” Barr’s nomination back in the late 1991 generated no controversy, as the Senate approved his choice on a voice vote – that seems unlikely to be duplicated in 2019. “I think he will serve with great distinction,” the President added. While the President had high praise for Barr, he took no questions about the future of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, as news reports indicated that Kelly’s future with the White House was tenuous at best. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump publicly unloaded on one former member of his Cabinet, calling his first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ‘dumb as a rock,’ and ‘lazy as hell.’ “I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough,” the President said in a tweet sent from aboard Air Force One. In a televised conversation last night in Texas with Bob Schieffer of CBS, Tillerson said the President was, ‘pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things.’ That predictably led to a stinging rebuke from the President via Twitter, as he flew back to Washington from an event in Kansas City. In a tweet from Air Force One, the President said Tiller was “was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.” Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018 “I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day who said, ‘you can’t do that,'” Tillerson said.
  • In a filing made late Thursday night to the Federal Election Commission, the campaign of Republican Mark Harris of North Carolina, which has come under fire for possible absentee ballot fraud in the 2018 elections, listed a debt of $34,310 to an outside GOP consulting group which was tasked with absentee ballot work in Bladen County, the epicenter of fraud allegations in the race for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. The submission, made at 10:12 pm on Thursday night by the Harris campaign, was the first public admission by the candidate that he had hired the Red Dome Group specifically to do work for him in Bladen County; Red Dome reportedly hired McCrae Dowless, the local political operative who seems to have been in charge of an illegal absentee ballot operation which helped Harris. News of the filing was first reported by the New York Times, further stirring the controversy over the fate of Harris, who defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in November. But in recent days, with more evidence surfacing of absentee ballot fraud, including the possible destruction of ballots from Democrats, McCready withdrew his concession on Thursday, accusing Harris of knowingly supporting ‘criminal activity.’ BREAKING: Dan McCready tells me he is officially withdrawing his concession. In an exclusive interview, he tells me he thinks Mark Harris knew what McCrae Dowless was doing and that Harris bankrolled 'criminal activity.' #ncpol #NC09 @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/m7LhB2vGnM — Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) December 6, 2018 The fast-moving events have led Democrats to openly say that Harris may not be seated when the 116th Congress convenes on January 3, 2019. “The House still retains the right to decide who is seated,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who expects to be Speaker in the next Congress. “As you know, it’s not just the Democrats who have a problem with how it went in North Carolina, the Republicans have a problem, too, because it affected their primary election,” Pelosi added. A look at the numbers from the GOP primary in North Carolina show that Harris won by an extraordinary margin in the absentee-by-mail results, with an edge of 437-17 over Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC). In recent days, Pittenger has raised more questions about the primary, as he has indicated his concern about what went on in Bladen County. “There’s some pretty unsavory people out, particularly in Bladen County,” Pittenger said in a local TV interview. “And I didn’t have anything to do with them.” It’s not clear when the North Carolina Board of Elections will take another step in the Harris-McCready election. Investigators have been seen in the field interviewing people who collected absentee ballots for Dowless, who was working for Red Dome on behalf of Harris. The board said it would hold a hearing by December 21.
  • Jamie  Dupree

    Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989. Politics and the Congress are in Jamie’s family, as both of his parents were staffers for members of Congress. He was also a page and intern in the House of Representatives. Jamie has covered 11 national political conventions, with his first being the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. His political travels have had him on the presidential campaign trail every four years since 1992, chasing candidates throughout the primary calendar.He is heard on Cox Radio stations around the country: WSB-AM Atlanta, WDBO-AM Orlando; WOKV-AM/FM Jacksonville; WHIO-AM/FM Dayton, Ohio; and KRMG-AM Tulsa, Oklahoma.Jamie and his wife Emily live just outside the Beltway with their three children. Some may know Jamie from his other on-air hobby, as he is a licensed amateur radio operator. When not at work or playing with his kids, you can often find him with a golf club in his hands.Follow Jamie on Twitter and Google+

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  • After DeKalb County School District officials promised efforts to improve their hiring process, the district hired a teacher this summer who had been arrested in 2013 in New York for meth possession. Carl Hudson was arrested in 2013 for possession of methamphetamine, a felony, a few blocks from Flushing High School, where he was principal. According to the New York Daily News, he pleaded to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and received a conditional discharge, meaning the whole incident would get wiped from his record if he did not have any other legal run-ins over the following year. Hudson’s case is like the series of hiring blunders that led DeKalb officials to admit to gaps in the district’s hiring processes while promising to correct those flaws. According to his resume, he moved to Atlanta in 2016 and found employment with Atlanta Public Schools, beginning as a long-term substitute before becoming a permanent hire, until he left the district this summer to teach math at Tucker High School. Atlanta Public schools officials said he worked for the district just over a year, ending in November of 2017. His arrest, though, was easily found through a Google search and according to Georgia teaching standards should have kept him from being employed by either school district. Superintendent Steve Green said Tuesday that being previously charged with a crime would not make someone ineligible for a job. District officials said they were not aware of Hudson’s arrest prior to hiring him. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed Atlanta Public Schools officials did not say whether they were aware of his 2013 meth arrest, but said late Tuesday that results of standard background checks met their guidelines. According to the Code of Ethics for Educators, from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, unethical conduct includes the commission or conviction of a felony, including a situation where the charge is disposed through diversion or similar programs. On his application, Hudson marked “no” when asked whether he had been convicted of any crimes in the last five years. On his resume, instead of listing the name of the high school where he worked, he wrote “NYC DOE High School,” or New York City Department of Education. Efforts to reach Hudson were not successful. District officials said he “walked off the job” Nov. 26. Bernice Gregory, the district’s human resources chief, said changes to the hiring procedure since she arrived at the district in April include having a second person — either Gregory or the director of employment services — perform a second candidate screening to ensure checks and balances on the district’s hiring checklist have been met. That could include a Google search and verifying a person’s job history for the past 10 years, talking to at least one reference who directly supervised the candidate. “We put another set of eyes on it,” Gregory said about the applications. “Once we put their names in Google, you know everything … is going to come up that’s out there.” The district recently joined the National Association of Teacher Education and Certification, which has a database giving the district access to convictions, arrests and charges against a potential candidate. Her staff is set to begin training this week to use that system. She said they also recently signed up for access to the Child Protective Services Information System, which essentially is a child abuse registry for the state of Georgia and would tell district officials whether someone had had as little as a child abuse complaint against them. A question added to applications will ask applicants if they have been asked to resign from a school district. During peak hiring times, Gregory said someone from her department will ask the question again. The district has gotten into trouble for sloppy hiring in the past, including a teacher hired last summer who had been fired from the Toledo, Ohio, school district on allegations that she assaulted students by putting them in headlocks and pushing them against walls. DeKalb County Schools placed Sandra Meeks-Speller on administrative leave on Oct. 10, 2017 pending an internal investigation, shortly after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requested her personnel file and told district officials what was uncovered online about her past. Diane Clark was removed twice from the district in 13 months. The first time, in November 2016, she was allowed to retire early after several of her Cross Keys High School students claimed she made threatening comments about getting them deported immediately after President Donald Trump was elected. The second time was December 2017, after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered Clark had been brought back to the district as a substitute teacher.  District officials admitted failing to do internet searches was among critical gaps in their background-check process, and promised changes such as verifying the work history candidates provide on their job applications and making direct contact with references.“Our background-check process certainly needs shoring up,” Superintendent Steve Green said last year. “We need to keep up with the times for ways there are to get information. In the old days, if you were cleared to teach in Ohio, you would be cleared to teach here.” District officials said in an email at the time that they would provide training sessions on interview tips, contact state boards where candidates are licensed and provide annual safety awareness training for some human capital management employees.
  • A Kentucky man is facing murder charges after allegedly slashing the throat of his sleeping 3-year-old niece early Saturday morning, news outlets reported. >> Read more trending news  The toddler’s father heard her screams over a baby monitor around 2:45 a.m. and was attacked by Emanuel Fluter, 33, when he tried to save his daughter, The Associated Press reported. Josephine Bulubenchi later died from her injuries at an Albany-area hospital. Fluter, a veteran, who had been living with the family in their rural Clinton County home, had been suffering from mental health issues, the child’s father and Fluter’s brother, Dariu Fluter, told WKYT-TV. “I want people to know that he loved his nieces and loved his nephews,' Dariu Flutur said. 'He loved us. He loved me and his sister.” The family told WKYT they forgive him for the alleged murder. 'He has a mental condition that he suffers with since he was in the army,' Dariu said. 'It's tough for us to understand because of what happened.' >> Trending: Texas firefighters rescue over 100 snakes from burning house, including pythons, boas There were four other children in the room at the time of the attack, but none of them were injured, police said. Fluter is jailed on $1 million bond and is due back in court on Dec. 18.
  • A metro Atlanta woman is accused of stabbing another woman to death at a Rockdale County motel and firing at officers during a chase. It happened at a Motel 6 in Conyers. Right after the murder, a statewide alert helped authorities in another part of the state catch the murder suspect, 42-year-old Joyce Marie Lewis-Pelzer. The alert also sparked new attention being put on the disappearance of another woman seven years ago. Last November, Channel 2 Action News followed up on the disappearance of Shawndell McLeod out of DeKalb County that is being investigated as a homicide. [READ MORE: 6 years later, this missing woman's case is now a murder investigation] While looking into Lewis-Pelzer, Channel 2's Matt Johnson found DeKalb court records that show McLeod took out a protective order against Lewis-Pelzer two months before the disappearance. Lewis-Pelzer is recovering at a south Georgia hospital after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said she led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Turner County. TRENDING STORIES: Police ID woman run over, killed at gas station; search for driver underway Michelle Obama extends national book tour, adds stop in Atlanta Officer shot in bulletproof vest during traffic stop, suspect killed 'Probably eight or nine minutes from mile marker 94 to mile marker 84 -- 10-miles stretch and it reached speeds of 110 miles per hour,' Sheriff Billy Hancock said. Deputies in Crisp County returned fire when she shot at them on I-75 Monday night. Authorities said she tried to head to Florida after stabbing her partner. A statewide alert helped a state trooper locate her car and attempt to make a traffic stop before authorities said Lewis-Pelzer kept going. It took two PIT maneuvers to stop her and the GBI said she fired at least one shot from her car toward deputies. As for the McLeod case, a Conyers police spokesperson said they're working with another department to look at the suspect further to determine her connection to an additional murder. The family of the victim at the motel is out of state and have not been notified of her death as of late Monday night. The accused killer has multiple domestic violence arrests in both DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  • Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judged to spare him prison time in a memo filed Tuesday. >> Read more trending news  In the filing, Flynn’s lawyers recommended for a sentence 'a term of probation not to exceed one year, with minimal conditions of supervision, along with 200 hours of community service, CNN reported. His attorneys said in the memo that “General Flynn accepted responsibility for his conduct and that his cooperation “was not grudging or delayed.” >> Related: Guilty: Michael Flynn admits in court to lying about Russian communication “Rather, it preceded his guilty plea or any threatened indictment and began very shortly after he was first contacted for assistance by the Special Counsel's Office.” Flynn is scheduled for sentencing next Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, recommended no jail time for Flynn in a filing last week. Original story: Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn are expected to make a sentencing recommendation Tuesday in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Prosecutors with Mueller’s team said last week in court filings that Flynn has been cooperative since he pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI. In light of his assistance, prosecutors asked that Flynn receive little to no jail time for his crime, an argument Flynn’s attorneys are expected to echo, according to The Associated Press. >> Mueller investigation: Report recommends little to no jail time for Michael Flynn Flynn resigned from his post in the Trump administration in February 2017 after serving just 24 days in office. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team.  Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced next week by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, according to court records.
  • A day of shopping at a New Jersey mall took a violent turn for three teenagers, who said they were beaten up by two women over a parking space. >> Read more trending news  The three friends - Taylor McFadden, 18; Tatum Bohanon, 19, and Alexandria 'Allie' DeRusso, 19 – told NJ.com that a car was waiting for their parking spot close to the Deptford Mall entrance, but that they weren’t ready to leave.  The girls think that’s what angered the women, who, at first, walked by their car with two men, and then returned and attacked them, McFadden said. She told NJ.com that one of the women hit Bohannon and the other woman punched DeRusso. “Both of my friends were on the ground at this point, getting punched,” McFadden told NJ.com. “I jumped out of the passenger side and I grabbed my phone so that I could call the police. People started coming over, but I think a lot of people were scared to get involved,” she said. When it was over, all three girls were treated at a local hospital. >> Trending: Father turns in daughter to face charges over starving dogs Authorities are investigating the incident.
  • California state lawmaker Joaquin Arambula was arrested Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor child cruelty, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said. The arrest came after officials at Dailey Elementary Charter School discovered an injury on a child who came into an office Monday afternoon, Dyer said. He did not describe the injury or Arambula's relationship to the child. He was cited for willful cruelty to a child, Arambula, a Democratic state assemblyman, is married with three young daughters. 'Joaquin is a committed father who wants what is best for his children,' his spokeswoman Felicia Matlosz said in a Tuesday statement. 'He is fully supportive of the process, which will show he is a loving and nurturing father.' Arambula is a former emergency room physician who won a 2016 special election to represent part of Fresno and the surrounding rural areas. His father Juan Arambula was a state assemblyman in the early 2000s. Officials at the elementary school reported the child's injury to child protective services, which called Fresno police, Dyer said. Officers called Arambula and his wife, Elizabeth, who both arrived at the scene. The child described how the injury occurred and said Arambula inflicted it, Dyer said. The police determined the injury happened Sunday evening. Arambula was cooperative and cordial, but he did not provide a statement to officers based on advice from his attorney, Dyer said. Officers were 'confident that a crime had occurred' and arrested Arambula on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child, Dyer said. He was taken in a patrol car to police headquarter, finger-printed, photographed and then released because his crime is a misdemeanor. The injury did not rise to the level of a felony. All school district employees in California are considered 'mandated reporters' under state law, meaning they are required to report known or suspected child abuse. They are not responsible for determining if an allegation is valid, according to the state Department of Education's website. They are expected to report if abuse or neglect is suspected or a child shares information leading them to believe it took place. They are then required to call law enforcement or child protective services, and law enforcement is required to investigate. A physical injury inflicted on a child by someone else intentionally is considered child abuse or neglect. Officials at the elementary school and Fresno Unified School District did not immediately respond to requests for comment. __ Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Don Thompson contributed.