Wednesday News: The bus is empty


TUSSLE CONTINUES BETWEEN BOARD OF EDUCATION AND JOHNSON OVER CONTROL OF DPI: The fight over who is running North Carolina's public schools remains unsettled, with both the State Board of Education and Superintendent Mark Johnson insisting they're in charge. Both sides claimed victory in a state Supreme Court decision released in June that upheld a 2016 state law transferring some of the state board's powers to Johnson. In a statement released Monday night, state board chairman Bill Cobey accused Johnson of overstepping the court decision by working with legislators to pass a new law in June that strips the board of power to oversee the state's public schools. Despite the new law, Cobey says the board will continue to pass rules and regulations that govern Johnson's ability to run the state Department of Public Instruction.

DEM CANDIDATE FOR JUDGE PAYS FILING FEE FOR REPUBLICAN OPPONENT: The local GOP chairman called it "disgusting political chicanery" and an obvious effort to split the Republican vote. He accused Walter Rand, a local attorney making his third bid to get on the bench, of a "simply inconceivable" and "simply disgusting" effort to bring in "a fake opponent." Alleged fake opponent Evan Charles Schreier took some offense to that Tuesday. "They haven't spoken to me at all," he said of the local party. "They just called me fake." Schreier and Rand are office neighbors. Rand said he covered Schreier's $1,167 filing fee right at the filing deadline last week in part due to rumors that Republicans were recruiting candidates to run as Democrats and split the vote on that side of the ballot.

CARY DEVELOPER CLAIMS CRAIGSLIST AD FOR PAID ADVOCATES WAS ATTEMPT TO SCUTTLE PROJECT: The attorney for a hotel developer says his client wasn't behind a Craigslist ad that sought "paid advocates" to speak in support of a Cary hotel project. Barron said he thinks the ad was actually an attempt to hurt his client's bid to build a hotel on Weston Parkway at Winstead Drive and Reedy Creek Road. "We feel like we were targeted by this advertisement by a person or persons that wants to see the case fail," he said. The ad, which appeared last week on Craigslist, sought 20 people willing to attend the June 28 Cary Town Council meeting to voice their support for a construction project. The ad didn't identify the project. "We will have a phone conversation beforehand, and then following the meeting, we will gather at a local fast food restaurant, where I will hand out payments," the ad stated, promising $50 per person.

TRUMP WANTED TO SEND US MILITARY TO INVADE VENEZUELA LAST AUGUST: The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said. In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

TRUMP TURNS SUPREME COURT SELECTION PROCESS INTO ANOTHER GAMESHOW: Eager to build suspense, Trump wouldn’t divulge whom he’s talking to in advance of his big announcement, set for July 9. But he promised that “they are outstanding people. They are really incredible people in so many different ways, academically and in every other way. I had a very, very interesting morning.” Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump met with four people for 45 minutes each Monday and will continue meetings through the rest of the week. She said Tuesday he has “two or three more that he’ll interview this week and then make a decision.” Trump interviewed federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, said a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them. The Washington Post first reported the identities of the candidates Trump spoke with. The president also spoke by phone with Utah Sen. Mike Lee on Monday. Lee is the only lawmaker on the list of 25 names Trump says he will use to replace Kennedy, though he has not been viewed as a top contender.