It’s Thursday and there’s a lot to review. Let’s do it.
1) Trump defends firing Comey.
James Comey is still unemployed, the president is on the defensive, and the FBI is in shambles. From The New York Times:
President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director roiled Washington on Wednesday and deepened the sense of crisis swirling around the White House. Republican leaders came to the president’s defense, and Mr. Trump lashed out at Democrats and other critics, calling them hypocrites.
On Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen Republicans broke with their leadership to express concern or dismay about the firing of James B. Comey, who was four years into a decade-long appointment as the bureau’s director. Still, they stopped well short of joining Democrats’ call for a special prosecutor to lead the continuing investigation of Russian contacts with Mr. Trump’s aides.
At the White House, Mr. Trump shrugged off accusations of presidential interference in a counterintelligence investigation. He hosted a surreal and awkwardly timed meeting in the Oval Office with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. Mr. Kislyak’s private meetings with Mr. Trump’s aides are a key part of the sprawling investigation.
One of those Republicans who kinda-sorta broke ranks was North Carolina’s own Richard Burr. From the INDY‘s Jeffrey C. Billman:
History is watching Richard Burr. As the head of the intelligence committee and one of Trump’s political allies, Burr is something of a fulcrum, or maybe the snowball rolling downhill. If he lends his voice to the cause of integrity, to the calls for an independent commission or a special counsel, if he declares that Trump’s Department of Justice and his handpicked FBI director cannot be entrusted to handle this matter of this gravity, other “troubled” Republicans will follow his lead.
We need—we deserve—a thorough, independent investigation worthy of our nation, whether it leads to impeachment or nowhere at all. Trump has shown that his administration is inherently incapable of providing that. And so the matter needs to be taken out of Trump’s hands. Anything less is a dereliction of duty and an affront to the Constitution.
As Archibald Cox said in 1973, “Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people.”
Congress answered that call four decades ago. Will this Congress do so in 2017?
Here is Burr’s answer.
So far Burr has stopped short of calling for an independent commission or a special counsel to take over the investigation.
2) North Carolina requests disaster relief from Washington, gets the shaft from Trump.
The state asked for $900 million in relief in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. It got just north of six million bucks—less than 1 percent of the ask.
From the INDY:
Cooper sought $166.6 million for housing repairs; $434 million to buy, elevate, and reconstruct nearly four thousand properties that are prone to flooding; $92.6 million for agriculture; $43 million to repair public facilities; $39 million to help small businesses; and $37 million for health and mental health services for people affected by the storm.
Almost none of that will get funded.
3) The N.C. House sides with Big Pork, votes to override Coopers HB 467 veto.
Members of the state House sided with the Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods Wednesday instead of siding with the largely African-American population that lives near hog houses. From the INDY:
Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467, a bill that would limit liability in agricultural nuisance cases, is halfway to being overridden. The N.C. House voted 74–40 in favor of the override; the vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting for it.
The timing is interesting, given that less than a week ago, lawyers representing hundreds of plaintiffs involved in twenty-six federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of Smithfield Foods, submitted evidence they say proves fecal matter from hog farms is ending up on and likely inside the homes of people who live near them.
4) The Reverend Barber is stepping down from the state NAACP.
Reverend William Barber, who has led the N.C. NAACP through Moral Mondays, Black Lives Matter protests, and the aftermath of Trump’s election is stepping down. From the N&O:
The Rev. William Barber, who led the state NAACP in blocking North Carolina’s attempts to limit voting rights and fiercely supported gay rights, said he’s stepping down as state chapter president and will focus on a poor people’s campaign like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was building when he was slain.
Barber gained prominence in launching “Moral Monday” protests in North Carolina this decade and trained others in more than 20 states in such peaceful civil disobedience. But he said Wednesday that after 12 years as an NAACP state leader, he wants to focus on the new campaign and “a national call for a moral revival.”
What’s next for Barber?
Barber said more details would be forthcoming at a news conference Monday.
Though Barber’s term officially ends in October, he said he would step down in June. He will remain on the NAACP’s national board of directors, whose chair, Leon Russell, said he’ll “continue to be a voice for North Carolina, for the South and for issues he holds dear.”
He’ll be missed.
That’s all for now.