Thursday News: Two-Faced Tillis


BOTH NC SENATORS THROW MILITARY UNDER THE BUS FOR TRUMP: North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis voted a second time Wednesday to back President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration that allowed the military to shift millions from construction projects in North Carolina to help build a wall on the southern border. In between those votes, the Department of Defense announced the $3.6 billion in projects that would see their funding shifted to the border wall. Included in that amount was $47 million in active projects from North Carolina, including $15.3 million for a new ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune to replace “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled facilities.” “I once again supported President Trump’s emergency declaration because Democrats refuse to provide the President with the tools and resources he needs to address the crisis at our southern border and keep America safe,” Tillis said in a statement after Wednesday’s vote.

NC DPS CLOSES THREE PRISONS DUE TO STAFFING SHORTAGES: State officials said Tuesday that they plan to close three minimum-security prisons in the coming weeks to shore up staffing and improve safety at other prisons. Operations at Hoke Correctional Institution in Raeford, Tyrrell Prison Work Farm in Columbia and Odom Correctional Institution in Jackson will be suspended for an undetermined period so 450 staffers can be shifted to other prisons with too few officers, officials said. More than one-fifth of the correctional officer positions in North Carolina's 55 prisons are vacant, officials said. The understaffing affects daily operations, limits the ability of staff to take leave and attend training and hinders the delivery of programs to inmates, they said. Redeploying staff to nearby prisons and moving an estimated 1,500 inmates to other minimum-custody facilities across the state will happen in phases over the next four to six months, said Jerry Higgins, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. The agency will re-evaluate the three facilities’ status six months after each location closes.

BLUE CROSS CEO RESIGNS OVER DWI SCANDAL: Conway, 45, was charged with driving while impaired, reckless driving and two counts of misdemeanor child abuse in a June 22 incident on Interstate 85 in Randolph County. Cellphone video obtained Monday by WRAL Investigates shows an SUV driven by Conway swerving across the highway before crashing into the back of a Harris Teeter tractor-trailer. No one was injured in the crash, but Conway's two daughters, ages 9 and 7, were in the SUV at the time, which was the basis for the child abuse charges. In a statement, Conway said he was "ashamed, embarrassed and sorry" about the incident. He said he told the company's board members about the arrest and completed 30 days of inpatient substance use treatment.

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE TO TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS TODAY ABOUT TRUMP WHISTLE-BLOWER: Maguire has been at the center of the controversy for refusing — on the advice of the Justice Department and the White House Counsel — to hand over the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress for over two weeks since the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson made its existence known to the heads of the congressional intelligence committees. The complaint, which was filed in mid-August, centers on Trump and his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is said to involve other matters that the whistleblower believed were so troubling they should be reported for investigation, according to people familiar with the matter. Maguire had threatened to resign over concerns that the White House might attempt to force him to stonewall Congress when he testified, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The officials said that Maguire, who was thrust into the top intelligence post last month, warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress.

BARR TRIED TO BURY WHISTLE-BLOWER COMPLAINT TO SHIELD TRUMP: At the end of August, when two top intelligence officials asked a Justice Department lawyer whether a whistle-blower’s complaint should be forwarded to Congress, they were told no, Attorney General William P. Barr and his department could handle the criminal referral against the president of the United States. About four weeks later, the department rendered its judgment: President Trump had not violated campaign finance laws when he urged Ukraine’s president to work with Mr. Barr to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. After congressional intelligence committees examined the full whistle-blower complaint on Wednesday afternoon, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said, “The idea that the Department of Justice would have intervened to prevent it from getting to Congress throws the leadership of the department into further ill repute.” Not only did the department advise the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to keep the whistle-blower complaint from Congress, it unequivocally ruled out the possibility of criminal conduct on the part of the president.