DCCC PLEDGES HELP FOR PATRICIA TIMMONS-GOODSON'S CONGRESSIONAL RACE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Thursday that it has added the 8th District to its “offensive battlefield” in an effort to expand its House majority. “North Carolina’s redrawn congressional map puts the state’s 8th Congressional District squarely in play, forcing incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Hudson into the first competitive general election of his career,” the DCCC said in a memo. Hudson’s Democratic opponent is Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who in 2006 became the first African American woman on the state Supreme Court. Her consultant, Thomas Mills, said the DCCC already has been helping the campaign. Decisions about financial help would come later, he said.
CONSERVATIVES ARE PUSHING LEGISLATURE TO EXPAND MEDICAID: Wiggins and County Manager Becky Garland drove six hours to Raleigh on Wednesday to talk to lawmakers about the need for expansion. Garland said officials are worried they could lose their regional hospitals. "As folks are having to avail themselves of the ER as their primary care, that is pushing the costs to these rural hospitals up, and they cannot sustain the costs of taking care of these folks," she said. McDowell County is similarly conservative, but its chamber of commerce also supports Medicaid expansion. "If you’re a working person and you’re paying your taxes and doing the right thing and you’re still being punished, so to speak, because you can’t afford health care, something's wrong with the system," chamber director Steve Bush said. "I challenge our leaders to do the right thing." "This is very vital to the citizens of Alamance County," said Sheriff Terry Johnson, another Republican, who notes that expansion could provide a way to address mental health problems that lead to crime and addiction in his community.
3 WHITE NATIONALISTS ARRESTED BEFORE THEY COULD ATTEND VIRGINIA GUN RALLY: A criminal complaint charges Canadian national Patrik Jordan Mathews, 27, and Brian Mark Lemley Jr., 33, of Elkton, Maryland, with transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony. William Garfield Bilbrough IV, 19, of Denton, Maryland, is charged with “transporting and harboring aliens.” The three men were believed to be planning to attend a pro-gun rally scheduled for Monday in Richmond, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and banned all types of weapons from the gun rally, citing reports that armed militia groups were planning to attend. In encrypted chat rooms, members of The Base have discussed committing acts of violence against blacks and Jews, ways to make improvised explosive devices, their military-style training camps and their desire to create a white “ethno-state,” according to an FBI agent's affidavit.
SENATE REPUBLICANS MOVE TO BLOCK NEW EVIDENCE AGAINST TRUMP: Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has alleged that Trump knew of his role in the effort to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit the president politically — the central issue in House Democrats’ case for removing the president from office — and this week provided Congress with documents to buttress his claims. Trump, who has appeared in several pictures with Parnas, denied knowing him on Thursday. Republican lawmakers appeared unswayed by the new information, focusing on attacking the Democratic-led investigation in the House for not uncovering the evidence before sending the impeachment articles to the Senate. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said it is the responsibility of the House, not the Senate, to gather evidence and present a case for impeachment. “As a juror, I’m not fishing, looking for more information on this,” he said. “I’m trying to respond to what the House is sending over and what they’re doing.” “The American people have seen allegations, and they’re allegations,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday. “We need to see more evidence that would be contained in the documentation. This is just another avoiding of the facts and the truths on their part.” Democrats said their case was also bolstered Thursday by a report from a congressional watchdog agency that found the White House violated federal law when it withheld security aid to Ukraine last year.
PUTIN MOVES TO CHANGE CONSTITUTION SO HE CAN BE "PRESIDENT FOR LIFE": The Russian leader proposed the sweeping amendments to the country’s constitution in Wednesday’s state of the nation address. Hours later, he fired Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who had the job for eight years, and named tax chief Mikhail Mishustin to succeed him. The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, quickly approved Mishustin in a unanimous vote Thursday. A constitutional reform announced by Putin indicated he was working to carve out a new governing position for himself after his current six-year term ends in 2024, although it remains unclear what specific path he will take to stay in charge. The former KGB operative has been in power for more than 20 years, longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin, who led from 1924 until his death in 1953. Under the law now in force, Putin must step down when his current term ends. Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, tweeted that Putin’s proposals reflected the 67-year-old president’s intention to “rule until he dies.”