GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES "BORN ALIVE" ANTI-ABORTION BILL: "Laws already protect newborn babies, and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients," Cooper said in his veto statement. "This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other health care providers for a practice that simply does not exist." The bill is similar to others that have cropped up this year in other states, and Cooper's veto is sure to appear in campaign commercials. Already, both sides were fundraising off the news Thursday, sending email blasts to supporters seeking donations. The North Carolina Values Coalition sent out a donation appeal titled "Roy Cooper just vetoed babies." It remains to be seen whether Republicans can muster the numbers needed to overturn Cooper's veto, but it will be difficult. The GOP lost its super-majorities in the House and the Senate in last year's elections and would need to peel off more Democrats to make this bill law.
NC TOWN PART OF CONGRESSIONAL FACT-FINDING TOUR ON VOTING RIGHTS: Members of Congress want to hear about barriers to the ballot in North Carolina before Democrats in Washington propose changes later this year. A U.S. House subcommittee conducts a field hearing on Thursday in the Halifax County town of Weldon. U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina and other Congress members plan to hear from people describing voting barriers. Democrats in Congress are working on legislation to restore part of a federal law the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in 2013 that required many Southern states to get federal approval before changing voting rules that could affect minorities. A similar congressional field hearing was Tuesday on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Others are planned for the next month in Cleveland, southern Florida and Birmingham, Alabama.
STATE ELECTIONS BOARD DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM VR SYSTEMS IN WAKE OF MUELLER REPORT: In a letter to VR Systems sent Thursday afternoon, State Board of Elections General Counsel Josh Lawson asked the company to provide "immediate, written assurance" about the security of its products, which came under fire two years ago when a leaked intelligence report named the company as the target of a Russian hacking attempt known as "spearphishing." Mueller's report, released in a redacted form Thursday morning, notes that, in August 2016, Russian intelligence officers targeted a "voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls," installing malicious code on the company's network. State Board of Elections spokesman Pat Gannon said VR Systems failed to immediately explain what happened. When Durham County hired a digital forensics firm to investigate, its report was inconclusive. The leaked report in 2017, however, prompted elections officials to try to revoke the company's certification, a move that VR Systems successfully fought in court. In those court filings, elections officials asked VR Systems if it "ever experienced a breach of security regarding EViD." The company's answer: No.
MUELLER REPORT REVEALS TRUMP MADE SEVERAL ATTEMPTS TO SHUT DOWN PROBE: In one particularly dramatic moment, Mueller reported that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel’s appointment on May 17, 2017, that he slumped back in his chair and declared: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f---ed.” With that, Trump set out to save himself. In June of that year, Mueller wrote, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the probe, and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. McGahn refused ” deciding he would sooner resign than trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of firings during the Watergate era. Two days later, the president made another attempt to alter the course of the investigation, meeting with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and dictating a message for him to relay to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The message: Sessions would publicly call the investigation “very unfair” to the president, declare Trump did nothing wrong and say Mueller should limit his probe to “investigating election meddling for future elections.” The message was never delivered.
ARMED MILITIA GROUP IN NEW MEXICO IS ILLEGALLY ARRESTING MIGRANTS: Members of the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, filmed several of their actions in recent days, including the detention this week of a group of about 200 migrants who had recently crossed the border near Sunland Park, N.M., with the intention of seeking asylum. The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia’s actions in a letter on Thursday that asked New Mexico’s governor and attorney general to investigate the group. The A.C.L.U. said the militia had no legal authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States. “We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” two lawyers for the A.C.L.U., María Martínez Sánchez and Kirsten Greer Love, said in the letter. In a statement, Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, said: “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”