GOVERNOR COOPER REJECTS ATTEMPTS TO SHUFFLE COURTS AND ELECTION BOARDS: Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed bills that would cut the state appeals court by three judges and deny the governor’s political party control of the state elections board. The legislature is likely to vote to override the vetoes. House Bill 239 would reduce the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members, which would prevent replacement of three Republican judges approaching mandatory retirement age. Senate Bill 68 would consolidate the state elections and ethics boards. The new board would have eight members, four from each major political party, with a Republican chairman in presidential-election years and a Democratic chairman in midterm-election years. Local elections boards would also be split. A three-judge panel struck down an earlier attempt by Republicans to merge the boards.
TRUMP REITERATES FALSE CLAIM HE IS ONLY AFTER CRIMINALS IN DEPORTATION PUSH: Young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and now in the country illegally can "rest easy," President Donald Trump says, telling the "dreamers" they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies. Trump, in a wide-ranging interview Friday with The Associated Press, said his administration is "not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals." This week, attorneys for Juan Manuel Montes said the 23-year-old was recently deported to Mexico despite having qualified for deferred deportation. Trump said Montes' case is "a little different than the dreamer case," though he did not specify why.
VAST MAJORITY OF INELIGIBLE VOTERS IN NC WERE FELONS ON PROBATION: An investigation by the N.C. Board of Elections has found that 508 voters who cast ballots last November weren’t eligible to vote – and the vast majority of them were felons serving active sentences. The State Board of Elections released the audit report Friday in response to public records requests and a request from members of Congress. The report says that 441 voters appear to have been serving active felony sentences on Election Day – many of them on probation. Convicted felons can vote in North Carolina only after completing their sentences, including any probation and parole.
TRANSGENDER ADVOCATES DROP APPEAL REQUEST, VOW TO CONTINUE FIGHT: Transgender residents of North Carolina have withdrawn their request for an appeals court to review their ongoing legal battle against the state. The appeal had challenged the requirement that transgender people use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings. The motion filed Thursday notes that the provision was taken off the books under a compromise deal last month. However, lawyers from Lambda Legal and the ACLU have vowed to continue their legal fight against the law that replaced House Bill 2. Their lawsuit is still pending in a lower court.
MEDIA EXPOSURE SPOILS REX TILLERSON'S RUSSIAN OIL DEAL: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says in a brief statement that the administration "will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions." The decision comes just two days after it was reported that Exxon was seeking a waiver to resume a joint venture with Rosneft, a Russian state-owned oil company. The request presented an unusual potential for conflicts of interest, given that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon's CEO immediately before taking the Cabinet position. He lobbied against the sanctions after they were imposed in 2014, in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.