SUPERMAJORITY OF VOTERS SUPPORT COOPER'S BUDGET VETO AND MEDICAID EXPANSION: Almost three-quarters of those polled said they would prefer school funding be increased rather than taxes cut, and a majority called for expanding Medicaid coverage to more of the state's working poor, according to the exclusive poll by SurveyUSA. SurveyUSA polled 2760 adults statewide between Feb. 13 and Sunday in the scientific survey, producing a credibility interval in the results of plus or minus 2.1 to 2.6 percent. Given a choice between providing more money for public schools or cutting business taxes to boost the economy, 71 percent of respondents said school funding was more important. Fewer than one-fifth said tax cuts should be the budget priority, while 9 percent said they weren't sure. Support for Cooper's stance cut across all demographics in the poll. Even more than three in five of Republicans questioned and a majority of those who identify themselves as conservative ranked funding schools ahead of cutting taxes in the budget debate.
UNC BOG WANTS TO FORGET ABOUT SILENT SAM: The UNC System Board of Governors must find a new solution to the dispute over the Silent Sam Confederate monument. But chairman Randy Ramsey made clear at a board meeting Friday that the statue is not going to be the board’s primary focus. “That monument does not educate students. It does not run the universities. It does not make governance decisions regarding our university,” Ramsey said after the meeting. “As much as it may be a newsmaker, I’m not going to let it distract this board going forward.” Ramsey and UNC System interim President Bill Roper said there are many more important issues facing the Board of Governors and that members will not spend their time talking about the monument. “We will secure the monument away from campus, and we will deal with it in due course,” Ramsey said. After the board meeting Friday, Roper said the system will be working with others to find a lasting, lawful and safe solution. He said Silent Sam will not go back on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.
GREYHOUND WILL NO LONGER ALLOW BORDER PATROL TO BOARD BUSES AND HARASS PASSENGERS: Greyhound, the nation's largest bus company, said Friday it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks. The company's announcement came one week after The Associated Press reported on a leaked Border Patrol memo confirming that agents can't board private buses without the consent of the bus company. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn't like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them. In an emailed statement, the company said it would notify the Department of Homeland Security that it does not consent to unwarranted searches on its buses or in areas of terminals that are not open to the public — such as company offices or any areas a person needs a ticket to access. Critics say the practice is intimidating and discriminatory and has become more common under President Donald Trump. Border Patrol arrests videotaped by other passengers have sparked criticism, and Greyhound faces a lawsuit in California alleging that it violated consumer protection laws by facilitating raids.
THE LONG KNIVES COME OUT AS TRUMP CRACKS DOWN ON OFFICIALS WHO AREN'T "LOYAL ENOUGH": President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election. Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The National Security Council, the State Department and the Justice Department are targets of particular focus, according to two administration officials, and there have recently been multiple resignations and reassignments at each of those agencies. John C. Rood, the official in charge of Defense Department policy who had certified that Ukraine had met anti-corruption obligations, was let go this week. Victoria Coates, the deputy national security adviser who was viewed with suspicion by some White House aides, was removed from her post and was moved to an advisory position in the Energy Department. McEntee spent part of this week asking officials in various Cabinet agencies to provide names of political appointees working in government who are not fully supportive of Trump’s presidency, according to administration officials.
BERNIE SANDERS KNEW A MONTH AGO THAT RUSSIA WAS TRYING TO HELP HIM IN PRIMARY: Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and Mr. Sanders said on Friday that intelligence officials recently briefed him. Mr. Sanders denounced Russia in a statement, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election. Drawing a contrast with Mr. Trump, he said he would stand against any efforts by Russia or another foreign power to interfere in the vote. “The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders separately told reporters in Bakersfield, Calif., where he held a rally on Friday. “And what I say to Mr. Putin: ‘If elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.’” Mr. Sanders said he was briefed about a month ago. Asked why the disclosure came out now, he said: “I’ll let you guess about one day before the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out?” On Friday, the president aggressively disputed that Russia was interfering on his behalf. He called the disclosures a hoax and part of a partisan campaign against him.