FALWELL JR OUT AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY AFTER RACY PHOTO SURFACES: Jerry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation's top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives. The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell's departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon. But it came after Falwell's apology earlier this week for a since-deleted photo he posted online showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and his arm around a young woman in a similar pose. The statement said the executive committee of Liberty's board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell take leave as president and chancellor, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”
COOPER AND FOREST DIFFER WIDELY ON CAMPAIGNING DURING A PANDEMIC: Cooper, a Democrat, is running for reelection. His opponent is Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has criticized Cooper’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including the restrictions and mask mandate. Forest has held several in-person campaign events, with larger crowd sizes and without masks, defying the governor’s executive orders. However, Forest has claimed a First Amendment exemption to the orders. The Cooper campaign put out a video this week about Forest’s in-person campaign events, calling him a risk. “We will not hold in person campaign events and we don’t recommend that, particularly when people aren’t wearing masks and when they aren’t social distancing,” Cooper told reporters Wednesday. “Both Republicans and Democrats running in North Carolina and across the country are finding ways to engage with voters in this new normal,” Chassé Alcivar (RGA) told The N&O in a phone interview. Cooper holding virtual events only and not taking direct questions from voters is “undemocratic,” she said.
UNC IS FIGHTING COURT RULING ON RELEASE OF NAMES OF STUDENTS GUILTY OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill intends to ask the United States Supreme Court to review a 4-3 decision by the Supreme Court of North Carolina that ordered the school to release the names of students found responsible and sanctioned for sexual misconduct. After a nearly four-year legal fight, UNC released a list of 15 names in response to a request for all sanctions issued for sexual misconduct since 2007. The release of the records comes three months after the state Supreme Court sided with a coalition of North Carolina media organizations that sued the university after it denied a 2016 public records request for the information. The coalition includes Capitol Broadcasting Co., WRAL's parent company, as well as UNC-Chapel Hill's student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. Annie Clark, a former student who has spent seven years advocating for more transparency about sexual assaults on campus, says the release of the names is a step in the right direction. “We have a lot of survivor advocates and survivors themselves who want these names released, who want to have that vindication,” Clark said. "But you also have a lot of folks who don’t want that, who feel like, if their perpetrator's or alleged perpetrator's name is released, that it puts them in danger."
A RECORD 130 BLACK WOMEN FILED AS CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS IN 2020: According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), which began collecting the racial identifications of female candidates in 2004, this is the largest number of Black female candidates who have run for the House or Senate, overall and in both parties, in a single election year. In this group of candidates, 117 Black women filed to run for the U.S. House and 13 Black women filed to run for the U.S. Senate. And as primary season nears an end, nearly 60 Black women are still in the running, according to Collective PAC. “We now know that if we’re going to have America look the way it needs to look; we must be at the table. We have to include our voice. We must be the architects of whatever this new thing will be,” said Briggins. “The only way to get there is by emerging ourselves in this political process and increasing the pipeline to politics for us because that equates power.” While Black women make up nearly eight percent of the U.S. population, they only account for roughly four percent of all members of the House of Representatives and one percent of the Senate, according to Higher Heights for America, a national nonprofit that seeks to build the political power and leadership of Black women. This cohort of Black, female congressional candidates tracks with the tendency Black women have to step up during times of racial and social injustice, said Kimberly O’Neil, a professor of political science at Collin College.
RUSSIA IS (ONCE AGAIN) TRYING TO GET TRUMP ELECTED, INTEL OFFICIALS SAY: Russia is using a range of techniques to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr., American intelligence officials said Friday in their first public assessment that Moscow continues to try to interfere in the 2020 campaign to help President Trump. At the same time, the officials said China preferred that Mr. Trump be defeated in November and was weighing whether to take more aggressive action in the election. But officials briefed on the intelligence said that Russia was the far graver, and more immediate, threat. While China seeks to gain influence in American politics, its leaders have not yet decided to wade directly into the presidential contest, however much they may dislike Mr. Trump, the officials said. The assessment, included in a statement released by William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, suggested the intelligence community was treading carefully, reflecting the political heat generated by previous findings. Asked about the report during a news conference on Friday night at his golf club in New Jersey, Mr. Trump said, “The last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have.” He said that if Mr. Biden won the presidency, “China would own our country.” Aides and allies of Mr. Biden assailed Mr. Trump, saying that he had repeatedly sided with President Vladimir V. Putin on whether Russia had intervened to help him in 2016 and that he had been impeached by the House for trying to pressure Ukraine into helping him undercut Mr. Biden. “Donald Trump has publicly and repeatedly invited, emboldened and even tried to coerce foreign interference in American elections,” said Tony Blinken, a senior adviser to the former vice president.