TRUMP COMPLAINS ABOUT HAVING TO HELP STORM-RAVAGED PUERTO RICO: President Donald Trump is criticizing hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and says the government can't keep federal aid there "forever." Trump criticized the U.S. territory in a series of tweets Thursday. He says there is a "total lack of accountability" and "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes." The president adds: "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" The House is on track to back Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat. Hurricane Maria struck Sept. 20. It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.
TRUMP HINTS AT STRIPPING THE BROADCAST LICENSES FROM MAJOR NEWS MEDIA OUTLETS: President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at the independence of the news media, declaring that it is "frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write." The president was reacting to an NBC News report that he pushed senior aides for a major expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Earlier in the day, Trump on Twitter dismissed that report as "pure fiction" and raised the possibility that he would support stripping the broadcast licenses of news networks that report what he believes to be inaccurate information. "I know the capability that we have; believe me, and it is awesome, it is massive, and when they make up stories like that that's just made up," Trump said in the Oval. "They have their sources that don't exist, in my opinion they don't exist. They make up the sources."
TRUMP HAS CHANGED THE DYNAMIC ON WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED "SCANDALOUS" IN POLITICS: For decades, political operatives have embarrassed and discredited their opponents through the dark arts known as opposition research, the kind of provocative dirt-digging deemed essential to any winning campaign. But as the 2018 midterm election begins, strategists from both parties are confronting a new, Donald Trump-affected reality: Revelations that would have once infuriated the public, even scuttled a campaign, now risk being greeted with indifferent shrugs. “The bar for disqualifying candidates is almost invisible at this point, it’s so high,” said Tim Miller, once the executive director to America Rising, a GOP opposition research group. “Especially given the fact Donald Trump is president and he committed at least two dozen gaffes and actions that would have crushed any other candidate.”
FORMER HEAD OF THE SUNSHINE CENTER TAKES OVER AS PRESIDENT OF ELON UNIVERSITY: I saw her for the first time several years ago, nearly a lifetime it seems today. I was in attendance at the then-annual lunch hosted by the North Carolina bureau of the Associated Press in conjunction with the annual Winter Institute and awards ceremony conducted by the North Carolina Press Association. Book was one of the featured speakers in Chapel Hill that day. Her topic was pretty much my favorite subject: Open government. She’s for it. That’s one way to get on my good side right there. Book, then a professor at Elon’s School of Communications, was also executive director of the almost brand-new Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.
ATTEMPTED BOMBING AT ASHEVILLE AIRPORT FLIES MOSTLY UNDER THE RADAR: A man planted a Mason jar filled with explosive chemicals and nails at a western North Carolina airport last week and vowed to “fight a war on U.S. soil,” according to court documents released Tuesday. The criminal complaint written by an FBI agent said investigators found the improvised explosive device on Friday at the Asheville airport near a terminal entrance. Asheville police bomb technicians then rendered it safe. The complaint accuses Michael Christopher Estes of attempted malicious use of explosive materials and unlawful possession of explosives at an airport. Estes was arrested Saturday, and the complaint says he admitted leaving the explosive device at the airport. The complaint states that Estes “claimed he was getting ready to ‘fight a war on U.S. soil,’” but didn’t elaborate on this alleged motive.