Saturday News: The clock is ticking...


3-JUDGE PANEL WANTS ACTION ON GERRYMANDERING PROBLEM QUICKLY, COOPER CONCURS: A three-judge federal Middle District panel said Friday it wants to move quickly to remedy 28 racially gerrymandered state House and Senate districts. "I'm pleased the court intends to act swiftly," N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday in a statement. "There is no reason for Republican legislators to drag their heels in correcting this wrong after the Supreme Court affirmed their map to be unconstitutional." In its notice Friday, the court invited attorneys for the state, legislators and the State Board of Elections to provide input "as expeditiously as possible."

ANTI-MUSLIM MARCHES SCHEDULED FOR SEVERAL US CITIES, INCLUDING RALEIGH: Marches against Islamic law were planned Saturday in more than two dozen cities across the United States, but scholars and others say the protesters are stoking unfounded fears and promoting a distorted and prejudiced view of the religion. The group organizing the rallies, ACT for America, claims Shariah "is incompatible with Western democracy and the freedoms it affords." The marches come amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren.

TRUMP CONTINUES TO BASH QATAR AS HIS SECRETARY OF STATE WORKS TO DEFUSE CRISIS: President Donald Trump is ramping up pressure on Qatar to stop what he calls a “high level” of financial support of terrorism, even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tries to calm the worst diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf in years. Despite Tillerson’s plea for “no further escalation,” Trump’s sharp comments were likely to further embolden Saudi Arabia and the others in their bid to isolate Qatar. The State Department had said the U.S. learned only at the last minute about the Arab nations’ plan to cut ties. But Trump said that he, Tillerson and military leaders had decided during Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month that a public rebuke was needed.

AP FACT CHECK: TRUMP'S CLAIMS OF "VINDICATION" ARE FALSE: President Donald Trump claimed Friday that James Comey cleared him of wrongdoing in his testimony to Congress. That's not what the fired FBI chief did. TRUMP tweet: "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication." THE FACTS: Trump's claim of vindication from Comey's testimony is groundless. Comey merely testified that the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign did not extend to Trump himself during the time Comey was leading the FBI. The FBI investigation continues, as do congressional inquiries, and sufficient questions were raised for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor with wide-ranging powers of inquiry — work that is only recently underway.

TRUMP LAWYER SAYS THEY WILL FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST COMEY OVER LEAKED MEMO: Trump's legal team will file a complaint early next week with the Justice Department's inspector general. The complaint will take issue with Comey's revelation that he asked a friend to pass along to a reporter notes he took of his private conversations with the president. That's according to a person close to the legal team who agreed to speak ahead of the filing on condition that the person's name is not used. The team is also expected to file a submission with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump has a long history of threatening to file complaints and lawsuits and not following through.