CHRISTENSEN WRITES ANOTHER SPORTS STORY ABOUT POLITICS: But he has rarely sought the limelight – infrequently appearing on the Sunday talk shows and preferring to quietly tour local businesses rather than holding news conferences back home. As a result, Burr – while politically successful – has never achieved the fame or devoted following of such Tar Heel senators as Jesse Helms, Elizabeth Dole, John Edwards or Terry Sanford. But Burr is now on the biggest stage of his career. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr has been thrust into the middle of the investigation of Russian meddling in the last presidential election and whether Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the presidency. As veteran political consultant Walter de Vries of Wrightsville Beach has recently noted, that has placed Burr in a position – similar to the late Sen. Sam Ervin – “to achieve historical greatness in the way he runs his committee’s investigation.”
COMEY'S PUSH TO EXPAND TRUMP/RUSSIA PROBE LIKELY TRIGGERED HIS FIRING: Days before he was fired by Donald Trump, FBI Director James Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation into Russia's election meddling and the possible involvement of Trump associates, U.S. officials said Wednesday, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency. It was unclear whether word of the Comey request, put to deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, ever made its way to Trump. But the revelation intensified the pressure on the White House from both political parties to explain the motives behind Comey's stunning ouster.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHORTCHANGES NC ON HURRICANE RECOVERY FUNDING: Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday expressed his “shock and disappointment” in the small amount of federal disaster money the Trump administration and Congress authorized in the latest round of funding for Hurricane Matthew recovery in North Carolina – less than 1 percent of what the state requested. “Families across Eastern North Carolina need help to rebuild and recover, and it is an incredible failure by the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders to turn their backs,” Cooper said in a statement released Wednesday. “Matthew was a historic storm and we are still working every day to help families return home and rebuild their communities."
REVEREND BARBER STEPPING DOWN FROM NC NAACP LEADERSHIP POSITION: The Rev. William Barber, who led the state NAACP in blocking North Carolina's attempts to limit voting rights and fiercely supported gay rights, said he's stepping down as state chapter president and will focus on a poor people's campaign like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was building when he was slain. "We need a moral narrative because somewhere along the line we've gotten trapped in this left vs. right conversation," said the 53-year-old NAACP leader in an interview via conference call. Barber also leads a nonprofit called Repairers of the Breach and said that group, along with the Kairos Center, Union Theological Seminary and others will lead a movement that will concentrate on 25 states and the nation's capital where voter suppression, poverty and other problems are prevalent. The groups plan major actions next summer, which would mark the 50th anniversary of the start of King's campaign in 1968.
BETSY DEVOS LOUDLY REJECTED DURING HBCU COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS: Drawing shouts of "Liar!" and "Just go," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos powered through her commencement address Wednesday at a historically black university, even as many of the graduating students turned their backs to her in protest. "Let's choose to hear one another out," DeVos said, reading her prepared text in a measured tone despite continuing waves of boos, catcalls and scattered applause at Bethune-Cookman University. DeVos alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." After a storm of criticism, she acknowledged that these colleges were "born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism."