Friday News: Racist baggage check

THOMAS FARR'S NOMINATION BLOCKED BY TWO SENATE REPUBLICANS: In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina. Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer. Helms’ 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls. The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.

PITTENGER AGREES BLADEN COUNTY ABSENTEE BALLOTS ARE SUSPICIOUS: U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who lost the 9th District Republican primary to Harris earlier this year, told Spectrum News Thursday that he was "fully aware" of voting irregularities in his district. "There's some pretty unsavory people out, particularly in Bladen County, and I didn't have anything to do with them," Pittenger said in the interview. "Let me just leave it at that." In its letter Thursday, Wallace noted that Bladen County had, by far, the highest percentage of absentee ballot requests in the state during the 2018 election cycle. He also said Harris won nearly 96 percent of the county's mailed-in absentee vote in this year's primary. There were 437 absentee-by-mail votes for Harris in Bladen County in the primary, compared to Pittenger's 17. The next-highest county absentee-by-mail tally in that race came from much larger Mecklenburg County, where Harris got 100 mailed votes and Pittenger received 96.

SAMUEL IS GONE: ICE DEPORTS DURHAM HUSBAND AND FATHER TO MEXICO: U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement deported Samuel Oliver-Bruno Thursday evening, almost a week after the agency arrested him when he left the Durham church where he lived to attend an immigration appointment. The agency deported Oliver-Bruno from the U.S. to Mexico, according to ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox. “Many among family and friends are traumatized by the violence employed by ICE in this detainment and deportation operation,” said CityWell United Methodist Church Rev. Cleve May in a statement about Oliver-Bruno’s deportation. Members of Durham City Council, county commissioners and Board of Education joined faith and community leaders at a news conference Thursday at City Hall in protest of Oliver-Bruno’s arrest and detainment. “This is a city for all. We will fight and we will defend everyone,” said Durham City Council member Javiera Caballero. Mayor Steve Schewel said the Durham leaders support Oliver-Bruno and his family and are unified in protest against the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

TRUMP'S "NEW' NAFTA FINDS LITTLE SUPPORT FROM LABOR UNIONS AND DEMOCRATS: “This deal hasn’t met the mark,” said Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist at the AFL-CIO. “We’re not really done here.” Drake and other critics say the requirement for labor reforms in Mexico isn’t enforceable and needs to be given more teeth. And they oppose a provision that gives manufacturers of biologics — ultra-expensive drugs produced in living cells — 10 years of protection from generic competition. Without competition, critics say, pharmaceutical companies could drive up prices and make health care even costlier for Americans. “NAFTA 2.0 is also stuffed with handouts that will let big drug companies lock in the high prices they charge for many drugs,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a speech Thursday announcing her opposition to USMCA. “The new rules will make it harder to bring down drug prices for seniors and anyone else who needs access to life-saving medicine.”

BOTH COHEN AND TRUMP LIED ABOUT MOSCOW BUSINESS DEALINGS: The improbable story of the Trump Tower Moscow deal was thrust onto center stage again Thursday after Mr. Cohen admitted lying to Congress about his role in the project. Mr. Cohen told the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that his involvement went on far longer, and his contacts with Russians and briefings to Mr. Trump were more frequent, than he had previously claimed. Mr. Sater, who sometimes carried a business card identifying him as a “senior adviser” to Mr. Trump, pursued Russian deals throughout the 2000s. On one visit in which he was accompanied by Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, he arranged for Ms. Trump to sit in Mr. Putin’s chair during a tour of the Kremlin, he said in emails to Mr. Cohen. Mr. Sater drew on connections he had made in Russia in the late 1990s when he began secretly working for American intelligence agencies, which in turn helped reduce his penalty after a guilty plea in a $40 million securities fraud case. (He was previously convicted after slashing a man’s face in a Manhattan bar fight in 1991.)