LAWSUIT FILED OVER NC'S GERRYMANDERED CONGRESSIONAL MAPS: The National Redistricting Foundation is backing a lawsuit filed by individuals in each of the state's 13 congressional districts, alleging that the General Assembly illegally drew the district lines in 2016 to favor Republican candidates. A similar argument went before the U.S. Supreme Court in March, but the high court ruled 5-4 in June that partisan gerrymandering is "beyond the reach of the federal courts." But in state court, several plaintiffs successfully challenged legislative districts drawn in 2017 on the argument that partisan gerrymandering violates North Carolina's constitution. A three-judge panel recently ordered lawmakers to redraw the maps without considering voting patterns of individual precincts.
PROSECUTORS REJECT LINDBERG EFFORT TO HAVE CHARGES DISMISSED: Lindberg and three others — including former North Carolina Republican Chairman Robin Hayes — were indicted last spring on charges of conspiracy and bribery for their alleged attempts to influence state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, a Republican. The four are accused of trying to bribe Causey with $2 million in campaign contributions to get him to take actions favorable to one of Lindberg’s companies, including the removal of an insurance department employee responsible for regulating that firm. “When a campaign contribution is conditioned on specific official action it constitutes a bribe and is not protected by the First Amendment,” Murray wrote in the document filed Wednesday. He added that Lindberg didn’t dispute charges that he “explicitly requested the removal and replacement of the senior deputy commissioner assigned to regulate his companies in exchange for $2 million in campaign contributions. This is sufficient to state a violation of federal bribery law. . .“
FAYETTEVILLE DETECTIVE HANDLING RAPE CASES FIRED FOR CYBERSTALKING VICTIMS: Paul G. Matrafailo III was dismissed by the Fayetteville Police Department in May, according to his dismissal letter obtained through a public records request. The women said they still can’t believe that they would be, in their view, cyberstalked by a detective working their rape cases. GateHouse Media does not usually identify victims of alleged sexual assault, but the women agreed to have their names used for this story. “I feel really victimized. I have no trust in the Police Department and the judicial system,” said Erin Myers. Reached for comment about the allegations, Matrafailo said: “I don’t have anything to say regarding that.” The Police Department has not commented. Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the Fayetteville-based Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, said three alleged rape victims informed her that Matrafailo, who was handling their cases, was sending inappropriate messages to them over social media. “Imagine being raped and then having your rape detective hitting on you. It’s disgusting,” she said.
WHITE HOUSE TOOK STEPS TO "LOCK DOWN" TRANSCRIPT OF TRUMP PHONE CALL TO UKRAINE: White House officials took extraordinary steps to “lock down” information about President Donald Trump’s summertime phone call with the president of Ukraine, even moving the transcript to a secret computer system, a whistleblower alleges in a politically explosive complaint that accuses the administration of a wide-ranging cover-up. The whistleblower, in a 9-page document released Thursday , provides substantial new details about the circumstances of the phone call in which Trump repeatedly spoke of how much the U.S. had aided Ukraine and encouraged new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to help investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son. Accusations of efforts to pressure the leader of a foreign nation to dig for dirt on a potential 2020 Trump rival are now at the heart of a House impeachment inquiry against the president. The whistleblower’s official complaint alleges a concerted White House effort to suppress the transcript of the call, and describes a shadow campaign of foreign policy efforts by the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that unnerved some senior administration officials who felt he was circumventing normal channels.
TRUMP CUTS REFUGEE LIMIT TO 18,000, LOWEST IN 4 DECADES: The Trump administration has set the cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States next year at 18,000, the lowest level since the program began four decades ago, officials said Thursday. The new limit represents a 40 percent drop from the 2019 cap and marks the third consecutive year that the administration has slashed the program since the United States admitted nearly 85,000 refugees in President Barack Obama’s final year in office. In addition, the Trump administration announced an executive order aimed at allowing local jurisdictions more leeway in rejecting refugees who are being resettled across the country, although experts said such powers are less relevant at a time when the number of refugees being admitted has dwindled sharply. Details of the refugee plan come as the Trump administration also has pursued a wide-ranging ban on asylum seekers from Central America, in response to a surge of families that strained federal resources and created a humanitarian crisis at the southern border in the spring.