TRUMP'S SUPREME COURT SHORT LIST INCLUDES NC WOMAN WITH TIES TO ANTI-LGBTQ GROUP: A Duke University graduate with ties to an anti-LGBT group has been included in President Donald Trump's list of nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Allison Jones Rushing was born in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1982 and was nominated to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which represents West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis tweeted his thanks to Trump, writing, "Judge Rushing is a western NC native I was proud to recommend to serve on the Fourth Circuit and a strong conservative choice who would uphold the Constitution." In March 2019, NBC News reported Rushing has ties to an anti-gay "hate group" called The Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. According to NBC, ADF "has a long track record of opposing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals."
TRUMP'S WINSTON-SALEM RALLY VIOLATED STATE (AND WHITE HOUSE) PANDEMIC RULES: Trump spoke at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem on Tuesday. Thousands of supporters crammed together without the 6 feet (1.8 meters) of social distancing the White House itself has recommended. An executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper earlier this month mandated masks in public and limited mass outdoor gatherings to 50 people. Asked whether the Trump rally violated Cooper’s order, spokeswoman Dory MacMillan cited an exemption in the order that allows for “activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights.” However, MacMillan added, “When elected leaders violate the White House Coronavirus guidelines surrounding masks and social distancing, especially with large maskless crowds that sit and stand closely together for hours, they put people’s health at risk. By using the First Amendment exemption for mass gatherings ... in this way, they’re making it much harder for North Carolina to get our children back in school and people back to work safely.” MacMillan added that the Trump campaign did not give state officials a heads-up about the gathering.
GOVERNOR COOPER USES COVID RELIEF TO PROVIDE WIFI HOTSPOTS FOR STUDENTS: North Carolina's state government is using federal COVID-19 relief dollars to purchase equipment so more public school students can access online classes and homework help. Gov. Roy Cooper announced that nearly $40 million would go toward funding a new partnership involving his administration. The project, called NC Student Connect, is designed to improve reliable internet for children as they learn remotely this fall due to coronavirus restrictions. About $30 million will go toward the purchase and distribution of 100,000 wireless high-speed hot spots for students, Cooper's office said in a news release. Thousands of hot spots were getting shipped to school systems this week. Another $8 million will provide free high-speed internet in public locations like parking lots so students can drop by to download class lessons. Other money will help instruct teachers, parents and students about remote learning techniques.
WOODWARD BOOK PROVES TRUMP KNOWINGLY LIED TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE DANGER OF CORONAVIRUS: President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the coronavirus outbreak in China. Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” “This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis. At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air. Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” Aside from exploring Trump’s handling of the pandemic, Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” covers race relations, diplomacy with North Korea and a variety of other issues that have arisen during the past two years. The book also includes brutal assessments of Trump’s conduct from former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and others.
WHISTLEBLOWER SAYS HOMELAND SECURITY QUASHED INTEL ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS: Top officials with the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacy and Russian election interference, a Homeland Security official said in a whistle-blower complaint released on Wednesday. Brian Murphy, the former head of the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence branch, said in the complaint that he was ordered this spring by Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the department, to stop producing assessments on Russian interference and focus instead on Iran and China. That request, Mr. Murphy said, was routed through Mr. Wolf from Robert C. O’Brien, the White House national security adviser. Mr. Wolf later told him not to disseminate a report on a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s mental health because it “made the president look bad,” said Mr. Murphy, who warned that the actions in their totality threatened national security. In other instances, the department’s second-highest ranked official, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, ordered Mr. Murphy to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on violent “left-wing” groups and antifa, according to the complaint, which was filed on Tuesday but released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee. In May, he said, Mr. Wolf directed him to stop providing assessments of the Russian threat, which favored Mr. Trump’s re-election, and instead focus on the activities of China and Iran, two other states that intelligence analysts have said pose a possible threat to the election and oppose Mr. Trump. China and Iran have so far not taken the kind of active measures that Moscow has, intelligence analysts say. Mr. Murphy said he refused to comply, “as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.” Two months later, in July, Mr. Wolf again approached Mr. Murphy and asked him to hold back a warning that Russia was mounting a disinformation campaign around Mr. Biden’s mental health. That report also noted that China and Iran were criticizing Mr. Trump’s health.