SANDERS SWINGS SOUTH FOR THE WEEKEND, ASHEVILLE AND CHARLOTTE INCLUDED: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is making his first public appearances in North Carolina for his 2020 presidential bid as part of a long weekend traveling through the South. Sanders' campaign says the Vermont senator will hold outdoor rallies at midday Friday in Asheville and late in the afternoon in Charlotte. The Asheville event will be held at the Salvage Station venue and the Charlotte event will be on the Central Piedmont Community College campus. Sanders' campaign says he'll talk about the need to restore voting rights, reform K-12 education, eliminate poverty and address environmental racism. Sanders' weekend tour also will take him to South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
TRUMP SPARES A TWEET FOR DAN BISHOP: President Donald Trump tweeted his support Thursday for fellow Republican Dan Bishop in the 9th Congressional District race, saying Bishop has “my Complete and Total Endorsement!” “Congratulations to Dan Bishop on his big Republican Primary victory in the 9th Congressional District of North Carolina,” the president tweeted. “Dan is strong on Crime, Loves our Military, Vets, 2A, and great Healthcare.” In six hours, the president’s tweet received 44,000 likes and 10,000 retweets. Bishop, a state senator, breezed to victory in Tuesday’s 9th District Republican primary, defeating Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing 48% to 20%. Among the 10 GOP primary candidates, Matthew Ridenhour, a former Mecklenburg County commissioner, was the only other person to reach double digits, getting 17% of the vote.
GROWING OPPOSITION TO MARK JOHNSON ADDRESSING STATE PTA GATHERING: North Carolina's PTA is holding its annual convention and the group's welcome for the state's schools superintendent is getting some opposition from some members. The North Carolina Parent Teacher Association holds its annual convention in Charlotte on Friday and Saturday with a focus on leadership. The state PTA is a century-old volunteer organization advocating for students. There are nearly 1,000 Parent Teacher Associations in schools across the state. An online petition launched last week urges the association to rescind its speaking invitation to State Superintendent Mark Johnson. About 100 people have backed the drive, saying Johnson is largely silent about increasing public school funding and supporting teachers but often advocates for charter schools and vouchers that help students attend private schools.
JUDGE ORDERS DOJ TO PUBLISH CONTROVERSIAL MICHAEL FLYNN RECORDINGS: In the December 2016 call, Flynn urged that the Kremlin not get too riled up about U.S. sanctions that President Barack Obama had just announced against Russia and to give Trump time to take office. That conversation, intercepted by U.S. intelligence, raised grave concerns about Russians’ secret and frequent contact with Trump allies and advisers during the campaign and before his inauguration. In the second conversation, an attorney for Trump tried to learn whether Flynn had any problematic information about the president after Flynn’s attorney signaled his client might begin cooperating with Mueller’s investigators. The attorney was John Dowd, then a private attorney for the president, according to people familiar with the episode. The special counsel was then threatening to charge Flynn with lying to FBI agents about his call to the ambassador. Dowd’s voice mail was scrutinized as Mueller’s investigators probed whether the president engaged in obstruction of justice to try to thwart the probe, and whether he deployed his aides to assist him.
TRUMP APPEARS TO BE GETTING COLD FEET OVER CLASH WITH IRAN: President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions. Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the leader of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, on Wednesday to confer about the threat posed by Iran, according to a statement. Long an intermediary between the West and Iran, Oman was a site of a secret channel in 2013 when the Obama administration was negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran.