Yesterday was historic for all the wrong reasons.
1) Trump fires FBI director James Comey, and we’ve got ourselves a constitutional crisis.
James Comey is out as the leader of the Federal Bureau of Investigation—and the inquiry into Russian meddling in the presidential election. From The New York Times:
President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for a special counsel to lead the Russia inquiry.
But why would Trump do such a thing?
Mr. Trump explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry and had once praised Mr. Comey for his “guts” in his pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.
But in his letter to Mr. Comey, released to reporters by the White House, the president betrayed his focus on the continuing inquiry into Russia and his aides.
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Needless to say, critics—and there are a lot of them, on both sides of the aisle—are likening the move to Nixon. Even North Carolina’s own Richard Burr, who was allegedly stalling the Russia investigation, said he was “troubled” by the move.
Dan Rather calls it “one of the truly dark days in American history.”
2) In less-dark news for the republic, Hopscotch’s lineup was announced.
Bring on Solange and Big Boi. From the INDY‘s Allison Hussey:
Solange is this year’s biggest name, an exciting and major get for Hopscotch. Future Islands, who’ve come a long way since packing the Berkeley Café at the first Hopscotch, sit in the second headlining slot, alongside Run the Jewels and Angel Olsen. Big Boi, who was supposed to perform at Hopscotch in 2013 but had to cancel, is up there, too.
As in years past, the lineup boasts a broad array of styles, running the gamut from rowdy rock (Protomartyr, Richard Lloyd, Mary Timony playing songs by her former band, Helium) to excellent hip-hop (Noname, Oddisee & Good Compny), metal (Thou, Pallbearer), and a mix of long-time favorites and up-and-coming young acts.
Hopscotch 2017 runs from September 7-10.
3) HUD officials visit with Forest Hills residents.
From the INDY‘s Tommy Goldsmith:
As developers announce high-rent, mixed-use towers in downtown Raleigh seemingly daily, residents getting the boot from Forest Hills Apartments in Garner are having a rough time finding an affordable place to live, even with help from federal and local housing officials.
A group of about thirty met Tuesday with representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Wake County Housing Authority. They heard that HUD had approved vouchers for the vacating residents last week. All residents had to do was show up for another meeting, at nine a.m. next Tuesday in the housing authority offices in Zebulon, about a forty-five-minute drive away.
“If I get halfway there and break down, or you going to come to get us?” asked Forest Hills resident Joyce Mosley, who said her car was in bad shape.
The often complicated requirements for getting help and the stressful search for affordable housing are common coin for low-income people in Wake County. Amid a booming economy and high-end growth, more than one hundred thousand households are described as “cost-burdened,” or paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
4) The state Senate unveils its budget proposal.
Teachers would get a raise. State employees would get a raise. But the spending plan calls for a lot less, well, spending, than Roy Cooper’s. From the N&O:
The N.C. Senate’s proposed budget includes a major personal and corporate income-tax cut as well as raises for teachers and state employees and a plan to “raise the age” for teens charged with crimes.
The $22.9 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year represents a 2.5 percent increase from the current year that ends in June – about half the size of the spending increase in Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget proposal.
Tell us more.
The senators’ proposal includes the tax-cut plan that the Senate approved last month, which would reduce the personal income-tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent while increasing the standard deduction, the base amount of income that isn’t taxed unless a taxpayer chooses itemized deductions. The standard deduction would go from $17,500 to $20,000 for a married couple filing jointly, with similar increases for other tax-status categories. House leaders prefer less sweeping tax cuts.
“This is the same successful approach that has resulted in consecutive years of revenue surplus,” Senate leader Phil Berger said.
Cooper responded on Twitter, arguing that his plan would do more for teachers.
That should do it. Don’t forget, a new INDY hit the streets today.