Thursday News: There are tapes...


CAUSEY WORE A WIRE WHILE LINDBERG TRIED TO BRIBE HIM: Recordings played for the jury on Wednesday showed that Lindberg was clearly unhappy with Jackie Obusek, the deputy insurance commissioner responsible for overseeing his companies. They contended Obusek didn’t like Lindberg and was unfairly tarnishing his reputation. In those conversations, Lindberg and Gray urged Causey to remove Obusek from overseeing Lindberg’s companies and replace her with a new regulator — Palermo, who at the time was working for Lindberg. In a March 2018 meeting that Causey recorded for the FBI, he and Lindberg talked about how the insurance department could hire Palermo. Lindberg also told the commissioner at that meeting that his people could set up an independent expenditure committee to support his reelection campaign and “put in a million or two or whatever.”

MODERATE NC VOTERS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH TRUMP: If President Donald Trump wants to carry North Carolina in November in his re-election bid, he needs to hold his own among the state’s moderate voters, according to a new WRAL News poll. Democrats Mike Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden would all defeat Trump in North Carolina in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup held now – nine months out from the actual election – because they beat him by a 2-1 margin among moderates, the exclusive poll conducted by SurveyUSA shows. Democrats Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar have smaller leads among moderates, according to the poll, leading to Trump defeating Warren and Klobuchar in North Carolina and running even with Buttigieg if the general election were held now.

BERNIE PUNCHES BACK WHEN BLOOMBERG CALLS HIM A COMMUNIST: Michael Bloomberg the billionaire and Bernie sanders the self-described ‘democratic socialist’ went after each other in what may be the sharpest fault line between the two frontrunners: their economic profiles. Bloomberg gave a spirited defense of capitalism and essentially likened Sanders’ policies to communism. “I’m not a communist, Mr. Bloomberg,” Sanders hit back at the former New York City mayor, calling it a “cheap shot.” Bloomberg described himself as “lucky’ to have become a success and said “a good chunk of it” goes to paying taxes. And a mayor, “I raised taxes.” Sanders talked about how the richest Americans are benefitting from a form of “democratic socialism” that provides million in subsidies, so they can consolidate wealth while the poor are scrapping under a system of “rugged individualism” that shuts them out of economic opportunities. Bloomberg said he worked hard to get what he has achieved but Sanders said he owes some of that success is due to the workers at his company that helped build his fortune.

TRUMP BACKS BARR INTO A CORNER BY CONTINUING TWITTER ATTACKS AGAINST DOJ: President Trump continued to test his relationship with Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday by amplifying conservative allies demanding he “clean house” at the Justice Department and target those involved in the Russia investigation that once threatened his presidency. The grievances shared by Trump in a flurry of morning tweets included claims of a “seditious conspiracy” against him, and attacks on a “criminal gang” at the FBI and the Justice Department. A day after it was revealed that Barr told people close to Trump that he had considered quitting, the president and his attorney general seemed to reach a detente of sorts. Officials inside the Justice Department said they were watching the situation closely, mindful that a new string of tweets or comments could quickly upend the situation, but there were no indications that Barr would leave imminently. The attorney general did not mention the controversy when he spoke during an event Wednesday at FBI headquarters. The fragile equilibrium may be tested again Thursday, when Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone is scheduled to be sentenced for lying to Congress and obstruction. Trump’s tweets about Stone last week prompted Barr to speak out publicly, saying the president’s declarations “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

TRUMP DENIES JULIAN ASSANGE'S ALLEGATIONS OF A QUID-PRO-QUO IN RUSSIA HACKING SCANDAL: Mr. Assange’s legal team told a court in London on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had made the offer in 2017 through Dana Rohrabacher, who at the time was a Republican congressman from California. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, dismissed the accusation. “The president barely knows Dana Rohrabacher, other than he’s an ex-congressman,” Ms. Grisham told reporters. “He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie.” It is not a new revelation that the congressman tried to broker a deal in which Mr. Trump would make Mr. Assange’s legal troubles with the United States go away if he provided evidence disproving that the Russians had hacked the Democratic emails WikiLeaks published. The statement by Ms. Robinson, he said, described “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out” of his legal troubles if Mr. Assange “said Russia had nothing to do with the D.N.C. leaks.”