Thursday News: Busted


GRAND JURY INDICTS KINGPIN OF NC09 ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD: McCrae Dowless, the political operative at the center of the 9th District election fraud case, was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on charges related to collecting absentee ballots in the 2018 primary and 2016 election. Dowless, 63, faces three felony charges of obstruction of justice, two charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two charges of possession of absentee ballot. The indictment from Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Dowless’ actions “served to undermine the integrity of the absentee ballot process and the public’s confidence in the outcome of the electoral process.”

CURRENT REPUBLICAN LEGISLATOR HIRED DOWLESS FOR 2016 CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY: It might sound familiar: a race for North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, skewed results and the involvement of political operative McCrae Dowless. But this was in June 2016, and no one, it appears, has looked into it. In spring 2016, after courts ordered state lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional districts, Union County Republican Todd Johnson decided to go up against incumbent 9th District Congressman Robert Pittenger and challenger Mark Harris in the GOP primary. He hired Dowless to work for his campaign in Bladen County. Pittenger narrowly won the district primary over Harris. Johnson finished a distant third, but he won Bladen County by a decisive margin, including 221 out of 226 absentee-by-mail votes cast – some 98 percent.

MEADOWS CHASTISED FOR USING A BLACK WOMAN AS A "PROP.": Meadows said he asked Patton to attend the hearing in a personal capacity and he entered a statement of hers into the record. He said she didn’t agree with Cohen’s characterization of Trump as racist. “She says as the daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way she would work for an individual who was racist. How do you reconcile it?” Meadows asked. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Michigan Democrat, responded to Meadows later in the hearing. Lawrence is black. “Having endured the public comments of racism from the sitting president, as being a black person, I can only imagine what is being said in private. To prop up one member of our entire race of black people and to say that nullifies that is totally insulting,” she said. Near the end of the hearing, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a first-term Democratic lawmaker from Michigan, made comments about Meadows bringing Patton. “The fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee is alone racist in itself,” Tlaib said.

TRUMP'S NORTH KOREA SUMMIT FAILS MISERABLY, PRODUCING NOTHING: Talks between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un collapsed Thursday after the two sides failed to bridge a standoff over U.S. sanctions, a dispiriting end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global nuclear threat. Trump blamed the breakdown on North Korea's insistence that all the punishing sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the North committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. "Sometimes you have to walk," Trump explained at a closing news conference after the summit was abruptly cut short. Mere hours after both nations had seemed hopeful of a deal, the two leaders' motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other, their lunch canceled and a signing ceremony scuttled. The president's closing news conference was hurriedly moved up, and he departed for Washington more than two hours ahead of schedule.

TRUMP'S HUSH MONEY PAYMENTS ON DISPLAY IN COHEN TESTIMONY: Mr. Cohen laid out a series of actions by Mr. Trump that bolster previous accusations and news stories, presenting documents to corroborate his account, including copies of checks issued by the president or his trust that he said were reimbursements for $130,000 in hush payments Mr. Cohen made to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who alleged an affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen said that Mr. Trump, as a candidate, initiated the hush payment plan and, while president, arranged for 11 checks reimbursing the lawyer “as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws,” a crime to which Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty. After news reports about the payments in February 2018, Mr. Cohen told lawmakers, the president called and told him to say that Mr. Trump “was not knowledgeable of these reimbursements and he wasn’t knowledgeable of” Mr. Cohen’s actions. Mr. Trump himself later told reporters he did not know about it.