TOM FETZER TRIES TO STYMIE ECU TRUSTEE INVESTIGATION: At Wednesday’s committee meeting, Board of Governors member Tom Fetzer opened up the questioning and initially asked Davenport to drop the complaint based on the fact that the student is not currently enrolled at ECU. Davenport denied that request, saying he has an obligation to ECU students and faculty to uphold the policies of the UNC System and state ethics. Fetzer asked Davenport about his knowledge of the meeting between the trustees and Hudson and about his potential role in orchestrating the recording of it. Davenport said he was told that Lewis had requested the meeting but did not know what it was about and did not help facilitate the recording. Fetzer also questioned why Hudson had the conversation with these trustees expressing her interest in the election when she had no intention of being a student this spring. Her attorney was not present to speak on her behalf.
SINK IS LEAVING THE SINKING SHIP? The North Carolina Republican Party's executive director will leave the party after the March primaries, moving on after eight months in the job. Jonathan Sink said this is a "pure family" move. He was hired Monday as Gaston County's in-house attorney and will move from Raleigh with his wife and young children. Sink said he'll work with the party until the week before his March 16 start in Gastonia. The primaries are March 3, and the Republican National Convention will be held in Charlotte in late August. Sink had only positive things to say about party leadership, which turned over last year after then-Chairman Robin Hayes' indictment on bribery charges. Sink took the executive director's job in July, replacing Dallas Woodhouse. Sink is from the Charlotte area and described the move as a return home. Since 2017, he's been House Speaker Tim Moore's deputy chief of staff, general counsel for state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and the party's executive director.
TARHEEL CHRISTINA KOCH IS HEADED BACK TO EARTH AFTER RECORD 328 DAYS IN ORBIT: The record books will remember Christina Koch for her record setting 328 days in space, the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman and for her part in the first all-female spacewalk. Since launching to the station in March 2019, she's conducted a lot of experiments that will have lasting impacts on human spaceflight and science. She has been the focus of experiments on how long spaceflight impacts the human, particularly female, body. Data from her mission along with Scott Kelly's 340 day stay will help better understand how astronauts' bodies might react to long duration missions to Mars or back to the Moon. Some of that research was focused on how kidney health is affected by microgravity and other factors of space travel, including water conservation and recycling, and altered diets. Researchers are applying what was learned in orbit to treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis back on the ground. She also worked with 3D printing of organ-like tissues in space. Koch help test new robotic assistants which fly freely through the ISS to assist astronauts with routine chores, perform crew monitoring, take environmental samples and assist logistics management on the orbiting laboratory. She also participated in research on how fire behaves in space.
ALL HAIL MITT ROMNEY, THE LONE REPUBLICAN SENATOR WHO MIGHT BE A VERTEBRATE: President Trump was acquitted Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Senate of charges that he abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress as it probed his attempts to pressure Ukraine into political investigations — capping a tumultuous, three-week impeachment trial that leaves his fate in the hands of voters in November. Democrats fell far short of the two-thirds majority required to remove Trump from office, as senators voted 52 to 48 to acquit him on the abuse-of-power allegation and 53 to 47 to clear him of obstruction. The outcome represented a political triumph for the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who successfully held together nearly the entire GOP caucus in blocking witnesses or additional evidence from the proceedings. Just one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict the president of abuse of power. Romney called Trump’s demand to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter a “flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values.” In a July 25 phone call with Zelensky that he has repeatedly described as “perfect,” Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate not only the Bidens but a discredited theory that it was Ukraine rather than Russia that attempted to interfere in the 2016 election.
BUTTIGIEG AND SANDERS IN A DEAD HEAT FOR IOWA CAUCUS VICTORY: Pete Buttigieg’s slim lead in the Iowa caucus results evaporated overnight. The Iowa Democratic Party released another batch of results late Wednesday night, and with 97 percent of precincts reported, Mr. Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were in a near tie. The position of the other top contenders — Elizabeth Warren in third and Joseph R. Biden Jr. in fourth — has not changed. It’s not clear when the rest of the results will be known, and with the margin so narrow, it’s also hard to tell when a winner will be able to be declared. Meanwhile, the New Hampshire primary campaign is in full swing. Four of the Democratic candidates appeared on CNN on Wednesday night for town-hall-style programs broadcast from Manchester. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Buttigieg now has 550 state delegate equivalents to 547 for Mr. Sanders, a difference of one-tenth of a percentage point. Before this latest update, the margin had been seven-tenths of a percentage point.