Wednesday News: The plot thickens


DOWLESS WAS GIVEN SPECIAL ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL VOTER INFORMATION: Bladen County election board staff allowed Dowless to “take and copy unredacted absentee ballot request forms, which include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state ID numbers, and signatures,” according to Lutz, who resigned in mid-December. Lutz also claims in the affidavit that Dowless used public records laws to determine when voters would receive absentee ballots, “allowing Mr. Dowless to send his workers to those voters right after the ballots arrived.” Because the race of voters is included on the county reports about absentee ballot requests, “Mr. Dowless could have used it to target African American voters,” Lutz testified. On another occasion, Lutz witnessed Dowless “pressuring Board staff to provide this information to him,” according to his affidavit. Lutz then “confronted Mr. Dowless and told him that the Board office was closed,” Lutz reported. Dowless “responded angrily, and my fellow Board of Elections member, Mr. (Bobby) Ludlum, went outside to explain the situation, after which he left the Board of Elections.”

CONFEDERATE STATUE IN DOWNTOWN WINSTON-SALEM SPRAYPAINTED WITH "COWARDS AND TRAITORS": The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the words "cowards & traitors" were written on the base of the Confederate Soldiers Monument in downtown Winston-Salem. A Winston-Salem police report says the vandalism was reported Tuesday evening. The police report classified the crime as "malicious injury to property." Further details haven't been released. The same monument was sprayed with black paint in August 2017, soon after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Confederate soldier atop the monument wasn't damaged in either case. The monument was erected in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which still claims ownership. It stands at a street corner before the former county courthouse, which was converted to private apartments.

SECOND MIGRANT CHILD DIES WHILE BEING DETAINED BY BORDER PATROL: A Guatemalan child detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol died early Tuesday at a hospital in New Mexico, the agency reported. The unidentified child is the second border-crosser to die in government custody this month. Seven-year-old Jakelin Caal died Dec. 7 of dehydration and shock, less than a day after she was apprehended by border agents. In the second case, an agent noticed Monday that the child had become ill. The boy and his father were taken to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, N.M, where the boy was diagnosed with a cold, according to a CBP news release. Later, he was found to have a fever and was held for an additional 90 minutes before he was released with prescriptions for an antibiotic and Ibuprofen. But the child became more seriously ill Monday night, when he vomited, and was taken back to the hospital. He died shortly after midnight on Christmas Day.

THAT ONE TIME WHEN IT WOULD BE OKAY FOR TRUMP TO LIE, BUT HE FUMBLED IT: Collman had called the NORAD Tracks Santa program Monday night to check on Santa's journey delivering toys. In an interview with the Post and Courier of Charleston, she said the scientist who answered the NORAD phone asked her if she would like to speak to the president. Six minutes later, Trump was on the line. "Are you still a believer in Santa?" Trump asked. When she responded, "Yes, sir," the president added, "Because at 7, that's marginal, right?" Collman didn't know what "marginal" meant and simply answered, "Yes, sir." Trump closed by saying, "Well, you just enjoy yourself." Trump's chat with Collman was initially reported as being with a boy named Coleman. Only Trump's end of the conversation could be heard by reporters, but Collman's family later posted video of the call on YouTube.

PODIATRIST WHO HELPED TRUMP DODGE VIETNAM RENTED OFFICE FROM TRUMP'S FATHER: “I know it was a favor,” said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times. Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. “But did he examine him? I don’t know,” she said. For decades, Dr. Braunstein saw patients in a congested ground-floor office below Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens, one of dozens of buildings owned by the Trumps in the 1960s. The family sold the building in 2004, records show. “What he got was access to Fred Trump,” Elysa Braunstein said. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”