WHITE SUPREMACIST/NEO NAZI CELL ARRESTED ON WEAPONS CHARGES: While the firearms charges against Duncan, Collins and Kryscuk were previously disclosed, Friday's release represents the first time prosecutors referred to the group's “ties to white supremacy.” According to the indictment, Collins posted frequently on the online message board platform called Iron March, which prosecutors said was used by neo-Nazi and white supremacy extremist groups. Collins spoke of recruiting for a group he described as “a modern day SS” located in the Northeast, and in 2016, he posted that he was organizing a paramilitary force. The indictment said Collins and Kryscuk would eventually discuss the three steps they felt were necessary to effect the change in the country they were seeking, including “knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing (its) face until it has been beaten past the point of death.”
MARK MEADOWS SAYS HE WON'T RUN FOR BURR'S U.S. SENATE SEAT: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who represented far-western North Carolina in the U.S House, said Friday he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2022. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, has said he would not run for a fourth term in 2022, creating an open U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina for the first time since 2004 that is likely to attract a crowd of candidates. “I’ve had a number of people talk about running for that seat, if indeed Sen. Burr retires. My conversations have included some of the sitting House members as well as Lara Trump, and, to my knowledge, no one’s made a definitive decision on whether to toss their hat in the ring or not. But in terms of my hat, it won’t be in the ring.” Lara Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, is considering a run, The New York Times reported Thursday. Lara Trump is from Wilmington and graduated from N.C. State.
FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS SMITHFIELD CASE, BUT REJECTS METHOD FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES: Thacker said there was ample evidence for jurors to conclude the company "persisted in its chosen farming practices despite its knowledge of the harms to its neighbors." She mentioned piles of hog carcasses in dumpsters on the farm, extensive summer spraying of hog waste from lagoons onto fields, and trucks running at all hours. Smithfield ultimately removed its hogs from Kinlaw Farms. The court "recognized that the jury was right — Smithfield willfully and wantonly interfered with our clients' ability to live comfortably in their own homes," said Tillman Breckenridge, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. It was appropriate for jurors to consider the large bank accounts and executives' salaries at Smithfield and WH Group in determining whether it could have paid to improve technology and other conditions at Kinlaw Farms, Thacker wrote. But she said it was wrong for Britt to allow jurors to consider the same information in determining the size of punitive damages, citing "the particular ability of potentially inflammatory evidence to sway a jury's calculation." The court vacated the punitive award and will return the case to the trial court to determine appropriate damages.
MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN DELEGATION REJECTS TRUMP'S EFFORTS TO SWAY THEIR ELECTORAL VOTES: President Trump received twin blows Friday to his effort to overturn his election defeat, with Georgia officials certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s slim victory there and Michigan Republicans declaring after a White House meeting that they had learned nothing to warrant reversing the outcome in their state. “We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R) said in a joint statement issued late Friday. The developments were a substantial setback for the president after the tumult of Thursday, when his lawyers held a news conference on Capitol Hill and made incendiary and false claims that Biden had rigged the election and proclaimed their intent to aggressively challenge the results. Meanwhile, in Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified Biden’s roughly 12,000-vote win, and Gov. Brian Kemp, also a Republican, signed the certification, leaving little chance for a delay of the seating of Biden’s electors there. Trump can still request a recount in the state, but Raffensperger — who has resisted pressure from Trump’s allies to support their claims of irregularities in the vote — has said he does not expect such an exercise to change the outcome. “As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct,” he said in a statement Friday. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts or of either campaign.”
BIDEN TEAM LEANING TOWARDS HAVING THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR: The nomination of Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico, as Interior secretary would have undeniable symbolic power. If confirmed, a Native American for the first time would oversee 500 million acres of public lands, including national parks, oil and gas drilling sites, and endangered species habitat, and control the federal agencies most responsible for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Indigenous people. Ms Haaland and Sharice Davids of Kansas made history in 2018 as the first two Native American women elected to Congress, and Ms. Haaland would do so again as the first Native American cabinet secretary. But her lack of policy experience worries some Biden advisers, who have suggested another Native American candidate: Michael L. Connor, a deputy Interior secretary in the Obama administration, whose experience is unquestioned, even if he lacks the star power of Ms. Haaland. Ms. Haaland is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, and Mr. Connor is from the Taos Pueblo, sovereign nations near Albuquerque and Taos that are among the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes. For either candidate, a nomination would hold enormous power for Native Americans. The Interior Department has for much of the nation’s history governed federal lands and often dislodged and abused Native Americans. In 1972, about 500 Native American activists took over the department’s headquarters in Washington, protesting living standards and broken treaties. The next Interior Secretary also will be entrusted to restore environmental protections to the millions of acres of public lands that the Trump administration has opened up to drilling, mining, logging and construction. Historians and Native American leaders said that appointing a Native American to head the Interior Department would be a profound moment in American history.