Thursday News: Musical chairs


TRUMP FIRES VA SECRETARY, TEMPORARILY REPLACING HIM WITH NC GOP POLITICAL FLUNKIE: President Donald Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin on Wednesday and chose a former aide to Jesse Helms and Thom Tillis to fill the job in an interim role. Trump tapped Robert Wilkie to be the interim secretary of Veterans Affairs while nominating his personal physician Ronny L. Jackson for the permanent post. Wilkie is a Capitol Hill veteran, having worked for then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott from 1997 to 2003. He was executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party before going to work for Lott. Wilkie also served as an aide to Helms, the late North Carolina senator, and former U.S. Rep. David Funderburk. Wilkie unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District in 1996.

LAWSUIT AGAINST TRUMP OVER EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE CAN PROCEED, JUDGE SAYS: A federal judge ruled that the District of Columbia and Maryland may proceed with an unprecedented lawsuit against President Donald Trump alleging that Trump's business dealings have violated the Constitution's ban on receiving "emoluments" or improper payments from individual states and foreign governments. The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte, marks the first time that a lawsuit of this kind has cleared the initial legal hurdle - a finding that the plaintiffs have legal standing to sue President Trump in the first place. "In absence of Congressional approval, this Court holds that it may review the actions of the President to determine if they comply with the law," Messitte wrote. Messitte's ruling is likely to be appealed. If it stands, it could allow Racine and Frosh to seek internal documents from the Trump Organization, to determine how much money the hotel has taken in from both foreign and state governments.

TRUMP LAWYER MAY HAVE PROMISED PARDONS TO FLYNN AND MANAFORT PRIOR TO MUELLER TESTIMONY: At issue are conversations John Dowd, who left Trump’s outside legal team last week, allegedly had with the attorneys for Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. The New York Times reported Wednesday afternoon that those conversations occurred, but the three sources it cites did not say that the president greenlighted those alleged conversations or was told about them after they might have occurred. The reported conversations suggest Dowd, and possibly others including Trump himself, were concerned the former national security adviser and Trump campaign chairman might cut a deal with Robert Mueller, the Justice Department’s special counsel investigating Russia’s 2016 election meddling, and give him information damaging to the president.

NC ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY UNDER SCRUTINY AFTER OPIOID OVERDOSES: The state won't allow an assisted-living facility for the elderly in Moore County to accept more residents until it fixes a long list of problems that include mishandling of patient drugs and sanitation lapses. A former worker's video of a staff member bent at the waist while sitting at a desk alerted authorities to problems at Tara Plantation of Carthage, about 60 miles southwest of Raleigh. Last week, the state ordered all staff members who have access to medication to take a drug test. The deadline for sending the state the results is Monday, April 2. An investigation of the assisted living facility discovered drugs had gone missing, residents were not taking medicine as required, one had overdosed twice in January, and staff members weren't washing their hands as they went from patient care to computer entry.

NC VOTERS CAN NOW REGISTER AS GREEN PARTY MEMBERS: The Green Party is North Carolina's newest official political party, joining Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians with state recognition. Voters can choose affiliation with the Green Party when they register. Voter registration forms that include the Green Party aren't yet available. Until they are, voters should check "other" in the party affiliation section of the application and write "Green." The party will have candidates on the November ballot who will be chosen at a convention. Ndege said the party is looking to run a few candidates in state legislative and congressional races. In North Carolina, Stein received 12,105 votes as a write-in candidate, or about one-quarter of 1 percent of the vote. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson received 2.74 percent, or 130,126 votes.