Wednesday News: Denied


JUDGE REJECTS WRIT OF MANDAMUS FOR HARRIS: A judge on Tuesday denied Republican Mark Harris' effort to be declared the winner of the 9th Congressional District election, saying the incoming State Board of Elections doesn't have to certify the results of the election until an investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud is completed. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied Harris' motion for a writ of mandamus, which would amount to a court order forcing the elections board to certify the results. Harris has acknowledged hiring Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless to oversee absentee ballot operations in the county. Several people have told reporters that Dowless paid them to pick up mail-in ballots, a felony under North Carolina law due to tampering concerns. Dowless has, through his attorney, denied any wrongdoing, but he hasn't yet sat down with elections board investigators looking at the 9th District.

RDU AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS HAND OUT LEAFLETS PROTESTING SHUTDOWN: Air traffic controllers are still on the job at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and across the country, despite not being paid, but they are not remaining silent about the federal government shutdown. They were among the first to take part in a national campaign organized by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to raise questions about aviation safety while so many Federal Aviation Administration workers are off the job. Last week, air traffic controllers at RDU and three other airports handed leaflets to travelers outlining the shutdown’s impacts on the National Airspace System that keeps planes flying safely. The leafleting effort has since been expanded to more than 50 airports nationwide, said Doug Church, a spokesman for the union based in Washington, D.C. Air traffic controllers are still working, making sure planes take off and get to their destinations. They are due to get back pay once the shutdown ends. But support staff for the controllers and people who provide other functions at the FAA are furloughed, and their absence will erode airspace safety over time, according to the union.

RALEIGH'S RUSSIAN MOBSTER HAS HISTORY OF MONEY LAUNDERING AND VIOLENCE: The court documents from last week also state that Teyf, a citizen of five countries, owns apartments in several Russian cities "as well as a 'compound' outside of Moscow ... including the main home, outbuildings, and security personnel." Russian authorities had probed the alleged kickback scheme with the aim of prosecuting Teyf, but he "bribed Russian officials to drop this investigation," according to U.S. prosecutors who cite confidential informants. Federal authorities have accused him of wiring approximately $39 million into U.S. bank accounts since at least 2010 and setting up U.S. companies to launder money. They wrote last week that he "keeps extensive amounts of cash on hand at various locations," including a Raleigh apartment "that had next to nothing in it except a safe with money and guns." Prosecutors have said Teyf believed his wife was having an affair with the son of a former live-in housekeeper and asked a confidential source to help him plot the man's death.

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS TRUMP'S TRANSGENDER BAN IN MILITARY TO GO INTO EFFECT: The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court's five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices. The court's decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition. It will also allow the administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules. The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now. Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration's policy will ultimately be upheld.

4 ARRESTED IN PLOT TO ATTACK MUSLIM NEIGHBORHOOD IN UPSTATE NEW YORK: The threat, it turned out, came from the 16-year-old whose comments had triggered the investigation, authorities said on Tuesday. He and three young adults stockpiled 23 firearms and three homemade bombs as part of a plan to target the secluded Muslim enclave of Islamberg, a rural settlement about 150 miles northwest of New York City, authorities said. It was unclear how all four of those charged were linked or how they initially connected, though at least three of the four were boy scouts, Mr. Phelan said. Two of them, Mr. Vetromile and Mr. Crysel, were eagle scouts. Mr. Phelan said that the four suspects had been planning their attack for about a month. They communicated on Discord, a group chat app created for video gamers that later became popular among far-right activists.