AG STEIN JOINS LAWSUIT CHALLENGING FAIR HOUSING RULE CHANGE: “Fighting discrimination and ensuring everyone is treated equally is central to building stable, successful communities in North Carolina,” Stein said in a statement Friday. “The existing rule helps ensure equal housing opportunities for everyone – I urge HUD to abandon its proposed weakening of these critical protections.” Disparate impact refers to policies that are formally neutral but in practice adversely affect a protected class, regardless of intent. The proposed HUD rule change drew sharp opposition from several civil rights groups, including the Americans Civil Liberties Union and National Fair Housing Alliance. Among the proposed changes, the burden to prove disparate impact moves from the defendant — such as a landlord or lender — to the plaintiff, often a renter or home-buyer. It also requires the plaintiff to prove the challenged policy is “arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary.”
GOVERNOR'S STAFF WANT LEGISLATIVE RECORDS PRIOR TO PIPELINE TESTIMONY: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will take center stage again at the statehouse next month when private investigators plan a public questioning of key Cooper administration officials about the pipeline permitting process. It's been a back-and-forth political fight to get here, with Gov. Roy Cooper and his leadership team accusing the Republican-controlled legislature of dragging out a sham investigation to score political points. Republicans say they want to know what the administration promised Duke Energy and other pipeline partners before announcing, on the same day, the pipeline's key state permit and a $58 million fund the governor would have controlled. Cooper Chief of Staff Kristi Jones sent the legislature an open records request Thursday, seeking communications between lawmakers and the private investigators they hired to dig into the administration.
FENTANYL HAS CAUSED OVERDOSE DEATHS IN WAKE COUNTY TO SPIKE: The stack of death certificates shown to WRAL by Gilliam contains more than 600 people who've died from overdoses over the past six years in Wake County. Gilliam said fentanyl has been a driving factor. "We started mining this drug data because of the information that we were receiving from law enforcement and medical people about how fentanyl is driving drug overdoses and deaths," Gilliam said. "That's why we set out to quantify it." According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a man-made opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It enhances the effects of drugs when combined with them. From 2013 to 2018 in Wake County, 662 people died from overdose. Fentanyl use spikes in 2016, leading to 49 deaths, up from 14, according to the Register of Deeds Report and Database on Wake County Drug Overdose Death. In 2018, 52% of overdose deaths came from fentanyl.
RATS BEGIN TO FLEE SINKING SHIP: A growing number of congressional Republicans expressed exasperation Friday over what they view as President Trump’s indefensible behavior, a sign that the president’s stranglehold on his party is starting to weaken as Congress hurtles toward a historic impeachment vote. In interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission — later withdrawn — that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria. One Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) — whose district Trump carried by 22 percentage points — did not rule out voting to impeach the president and compared the situation to the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency. The GOP’s rising frustration is a break from the past three years, when congressional Republicans almost uniformly defended Trump through a series of scandals that engulfed the White House. There’s now a growing sense among a quiet group of Republicans that the president is playing with fire, taking their loyalty for granted as they’re forced to “defend the indefensible,” as a senior House Republican said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.
TRUMP'S "INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATORS" GAMBIT IS ALREADY TAKING A WEIRD DIRECTION: The number of interviews shows that Mr. Durham’s review is further along than previously known. It has served as a political flash point since Attorney General William P. Barr revealed in the spring that he planned to scrutinize the beginnings of the Russia investigation, which Mr. Trump and his allies have attacked without evidence as a plot by law enforcement and intelligence officials to prevent him from winning the 2016 election. Closely overseen by Mr. Barr, Mr. Durham and his investigators have sought help from governments in countries that figure into right-wing attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation, stirring criticism that they are trying to deliver Mr. Trump a political victory rather than conducting an independent review. And on Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, tied Mr. Durham’s investigation to the Ukraine scandal, infuriating people inside the Justice Department. But Mr. Mulvaney’s comments also put the spotlight on the fact that Ukraine is one country that Mr. Durham has sought help from. His team has interviewed private Ukrainian citizens, a Justice Department spokeswoman has said without explaining why.