Thursday News: Divide and conquer


GOP IS NOW TRYING TO BLATANTLY BRIBE SENATE DEMS TO OVERRIDE: Republicans in the General Assembly are offering Democrats a deal that would mean raises for teachers and some other state employees if the state budget becomes law. North Carolina teachers could get the 3.9% raises over the next two years that are in the state budget, which includes step increases for longevity, or an additional raise that would bring the total raise to 4.4% if Democrats vote with Republicans to override the governor’s veto of the budget, Republican General Assembly leaders announced Wednesday. The bill will be considered by the legislature on Thursday, Oct. 31, the day the Senate previously announced it would adjourn for a few weeks or more.

SEXUAL ASSAULT OMNIBUS BILL HEADED FOR AN UP OR DOWN VOTE: The legislation includes a change to a legal precedent unique to North Carolina, which Carolina Public Press and its collaborative partners highlighted in the series Seeking Conviction in March. Everywhere in the United States, continuing sexual activity once the other party withdraws consent is a crime, except in North Carolina, due to a 40-year-old Court of Appeals ruling. Ultimately, the proposals in several of those earlier bills were placed into SB 199, which reached its final form in conference committee this week. As a result, all of the proposals will live or die together as a package of related reforms. Lawmakers are expected to vote on SB 199 Thursday, which will likely be the last day of the session. Because it emerged from a conference committee, lawmakers must give it an up-or-down vote and cannot amend it further.

TWITTER MOVES TO BAN POLITICAL ADVERTISING FOR THE 2020 ELECTION: Twitter, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spread on social media, is banning all political advertising from its service. Its move strikes a sharp contrast with Facebook, which continues to defend running paid political ads, even false ones, as a free speech priority. "While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday in a series of tweets announcing the new policy. Facebook has taken fire since it reiterated in September that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in October that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.

TRUMP JUDICIAL NOMINEE BASHED BY THE BAR ASSOCIATION FOR ANTI-LGBTQ BIAS: Colleagues found Lawrence VanDyke to be “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice,” the chair of an ABA committee wrote in the scathing letter, the result of 60 interviews with lawyers, judges and others who worked with the Justice Department attorney. Acquaintances also alleged a lack of humility, an “’entitlement’ temperament,” a closed mind and an inconsistent “commitment to being candid,” the letter said. It deemed VanDyke “not qualified” for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The strongly worded review drew equally strong reactions at a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee — from Democrats who called the ABA findings unusual and troubling as well as from Republicans who called it a low attack from a group they’ve long accused of bias against conservatives. But one charge was particularly upsetting to VanDyke himself: The ABA’s report that he “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.” Asked if that was correct, the nominee struggled almost 15 seconds to find his words. He started to cry. “I did not say that,” he said in a shaky voice. He apologized to his listeners as he halted again, apparently too overcome to speak. “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God and they should all be treated with dignity and respect,” he added, eyes still glistening.

CONGRESS WANTS TO QUESTION JOHN BOLTON; COULD BE NAIL IN TRUMP'S COFFIN: House impeachment investigators on Wednesday summoned John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, and two top White House lawyers to testify next week in their inquiry into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, closing in on critical witnesses as they prepare to go public with their investigation. Mr. Bolton, a fiery foreign policy veteran, could be a marquee player in the House’s month-old impeachment inquiry. His deputies have testified that Mr. Bolton, who left the White House in September amid disagreements with the president, was angry about the efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into Democrats. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who was leading the charge, he warned, was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” But his appearance is far from assured. His lawyer said that Mr. Bolton was “not willing to appear voluntarily,” declining to specify what his client would do should he be subpoenaed. As the private phase of the inquiry marched forward, the House prepared for its first formal vote on Thursday related to the inquiry, as Democrats lay out rules to begin taking their impeachment process public.