Friday News: Defending the indefensible


BERGER WANTS TO KEEP LAW IN PLACE PROTECTING CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: The North Carolina Senate's top leader is skeptical about scrapping a 2015 law that prohibits permanently removing Confederate monuments from public property, as Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper called for earlier this week. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger wrote in a column released Thursday that "an impulsive decision" to pull down monuments wouldn't be wise. Berger says the legislation sought to reduce politics in decisions about monuments on government property. Cooper said Tuesday it was time to stop glorifying a war fought to defend slavery and worried about public safety following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham.

RICHARD BURR WAFFLES BETWEEN CRITICISM AND PRAISE OF DONALD TRUMP: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr Thursday downplayed President Donald Trump’s criticism of fellow Republicans, which mounted with fresh attacks on U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake. “One, I don’t think these tweets are the first towards members of Congress,” Burr told the Observer. “This is not the first administration that has tried to minimize the role of Congress." Burr spoke after a private meeting at the City Club with members of the Charlotte Economics Club. “The president has stayed focused on the things he’s made as campaign promises. He has cut government regulation … He has continued to grow the economy…You know, his plate had three big issues. Health care. taxes and infrastructure. … I can never remember an administration accomplishing more than one big issue in a calendar year.”

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON NEW LEGISLATIVE MAPS SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY: House and Senate redistricting committees planned public hearings Tuesday in Raleigh and at six community college campuses in regions where maps are expected to change. Lines for several dozen seats are being redrawn because federal judges have struck down nearly 30 districts as illegal racial gerrymanders. Legislative leaders have said they intend to release proposed House and Senate maps before the public hearings. The General Assembly is expected to vote on new maps late next week to meet a Sept. 1 deadline for approval. In addition to the legislative complex in Raleigh, other hearing sites are in Beaufort, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Jamestown, Weldon and Hudson.

SESSIONS COMES TO NORTH CAROLINA TO SPREAD FALSE MEME ABOUT SANCTUARY CITIES: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is suggesting that sanctuary cities contribute to problems with drugs and violent gangs, adding that cracking down on illegal immigrants is his priority. Sessions spoke Thursday in Winston-Salem to several hundred law officers investigating gangs across the Carolinas. Sessions said cities that shield people in the U.S. illegally are contributing to problems caused by violent gangs like MS-13. Sessions cited the small North Carolina town of Hamlet, which cancelled its July Fourth last month because of fears of gang violence. He says the nation won’t be held hostage by gangs, and that the federal government would work with state and local law enforcement to eradicate them. Sessions has previously tied illegal immigration to a broader lawlessness that allows gangs to smuggle guns, drugs and humans.

MORE REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS QUESTION TRUMP'S VIEWS ON WHITE SUPREMACY: Trump's unpredictable, defiant and, critics claim, racially provocative behavior has clearly begun to wear on his Republican allies. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, whom Trump considered for a Cabinet post, declared Thursday that "the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to" in dealing with crises. And Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska tweeted, "Anything less than complete & unambiguous condemnation of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK by the @POTUS is unacceptable. Period." Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Trump's "moral authority is compromised."