NC GOP WANTS TO MOVE GERRYMANDERING SUIT TO FEDERAL COURT: Republican legislative leaders are trying to move from state court to federal court a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina congressional map drawn in 2016. The GOP lawmakers filed a notice Monday in the partisan redistricting litigation that voters filed last month in Wake County court. The lawmakers' attorneys said the venue change is necessary because complying with the plaintiffs' demands for a new map would conflict state redistricting rules with the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act. A federal court granting the move could scuttle the plaintiffs' case, since the U.S. Supreme Court recently declared federal courts lack authority to rule on partisan gerrymandering claims.
NC'S MEDICAID PROGRAM IS MORPHING TO MANAGED CARE MODEL: A big change to Medicaid has arrived in North Carolina — no, not expansion — that will affect thousands of people who get their health coverage through the government-run program. Previously called Medicaid transformation by the General Assembly, the Department of Health and Human Services has opened enrollment for Medicaid Managed Care to the entire state starting Monday. Negotiations over Medicaid expansion, largely divided along party lines with Democrats for it and Republicans against it, is still at a stalemate in the General Assembly. Under managed care, which the state government passed in 2015 and is now starting, most people who receive Medicaid need to enroll in a health plan and choose a primary care provider by Dec. 13. Coverage is scheduled to start on Feb. 1, according to DHHS, though that could change depending on when the budget passes. The governor vetoed a mini budget bill in late August that funded the transformation.
LUMBERTON CITY COUNCIL REJECTS RENT-FREE OFFICE FOR DAN BISHOP: By a vote of 6 to 2 on Monday, the Lumberton City Council rejected offering newly elected Republican Congressmen Dan Bishop office space in City Hall for free. The issue was tabled during the council’s Council Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday after a contentious exchange between Mayor Bruce Davis and Councilmen John Cantey and Chris Howard over the amount of rent Rep. Bishop should pay for a three-room, 392-square-foot space on the third floor of City Hall. This time, there was no argument as Councilman Leroy Rising offered a motion to rent the offices for free, and Councilman Owen Thomas seconded the motion. A substitute motion by Cantey to make an offer of $457 per month passed. An offer of $1-a-year rent had been extended to Rep. Bishop before Wednesday’s planning meeting last week, But Cantey and Howard objected, saying the council had been excluded from the process, and the council tabled the matter.
FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER TESTIFIES ABOUT GIULIANI "SHADOW" FOREIGN POLICY: Hill testified Monday that Bolton was furious over Giuliani’s politically motivated activities in Ukraine, two officials familiar with her testimony said. She recounted how Bolton likened the former New York mayor to a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” one of these people said, after Bolton learned about Giuliani’s Ukraine campaign. Bolton and Sondland met in early July with then-special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Hill and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. During the meeting, Sondland’s agenda for Ukraine began to become clear, when he blurted out to the other officials present that there were “investigations that were dropped that need to be started up again,” according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The officials understood him to be referring to Burisma, the energy company, and Biden — something that made Bolton go “ballistic” after the meeting, the official said. Hill told lawmakers that after the meeting, Bolton instructed her to go raise their concerns about the shadow Ukraine operations with White House lawyers. Bolton said he did not want to be part of any “drug deal” that was being cooked up on Ukraine, one person familiar with Hill’s testimony said.
RUSSIAN SECURITY FORCES MOVE INTO NORTHERN SYRIA AFTER U.S. TROOP WITHDRAWAL: Russia said on Tuesday that its military units were patrolling territory in northern Syria between Syrian and Turkish forces after the American withdrawal from the area, underscoring the sudden loss of United States influence in the area and illustrating how the power balance in the region has shifted rapidly in the past week. The announcement that Russian forces were now patrolling an area where the United States had maintained two military bases until Monday appeared to signal that Moscow was moving to fill a security void left by the American withdrawal. Videos circulating on social media appeared to show a Russian man filming himself walking around a recently evacuated United States military base in northern Syria. Since the Kurdish authorities asked the government of President Bashar al-Assad for assistance, thousands of Syrian Army troops have flooded into northern Syria for the first time since the government lost control of the region several years ago. But Syrian government troops have stayed clear of the border region near Ras al-Ain, where Kurdish troops fight on alone. Instead, government forces have deployed to other strategic positions, such as the western cities of Manbij, to help alleviate pressure on Kurdish fighters on the front line. The last-minute alliance comes at great cost to the Kurdish authorities, who are effectively giving up self-rule.