Thursday News: Was ist los mit dir?


BERGER FLIES OFF TO BERLIN DURING BUDGET STANDOFF: Just hours after Gov. Roy Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders delivered a new budget proposal to Republican legislative leaders, two of them were on their way out of the country. Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County and Sen. Harry Brown of Onslow County, who is the Senate majority leader and a budget writer, were on their way to attend the Senate Presidents’ Forum summer 2019 conference in Berlin. According to the group’s website, there will be sessions on recent trade tariffs, Brexit and nationalist trends, and an update on the Middle East. The conference runs through July 14. The trip comes weeks after Republicans criticized Cooper for leaving the state for non-state business while attempting to set up budget negotiation meetings.

BILL TO BAN CITIES FROM REGULATING AIRBNB STALLS AMID GOP DISAGREEMENT: Arp said the local rules are unfair to people who have invested money in properties to go into the Airbnb business. "There are people with strongly passionate views that these are property rights issues, what you can do with your property that you own," he said. But Rep. Stephen Ross, R-Alamance, argued neighbors of Airbnb hosts have property rights too that need to be honored. A former Burlington mayor, he called the bill "a terrible idea" that would undermine the value of zoning for single-family neighborhoods. "It just seems to me that this is a real assault on local authority. Why are we jumping into this this way?" Ross said. Because of opposition from other members of the House State and Local Government committee, Arp withdrew the bill before it was voted on. He said he would work with local government groups to come up with a compromise while the issue is studied further.

HOUSE DEMS WILL ONLY HAVE 2 HRS FOR MUELLER HEARINGS: Mueller is expected to testify in front of the Judiciary and intelligence committees for two hours each, with time split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, though that timing is still a subject of negotiations. That means Democrats will have to be efficient and targeted in their attempts to extract information from the former special counsel and spotlight what they say are his most damaging findings against President Donald Trump. “It will not be easy,” said Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee. He added: “We just have to be very smart about how we use the time and really give the special counsel the time to tell the story.” Cicilline says he’s reading the report a second time, thoroughly, with an eye toward what he wants to ask. Separately, a Democratic aide said staff members have been watching old videos of Mueller testifying as FBI director during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They’re looking to see how he’ll act, the aide said, and they have noticed he gives minimal commentary when answering questions. The aide was not authorized to discuss internal preparations for the hearing and requested anonymity.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT PUSHED LAND DEAL FOR TRUMP DONOR: A coalition of conservation groups challenged the permit in a federal lawsuit in January. Environmentalists argue the project's need for groundwater will threaten the San Pedro River and surrounding wildlife, including birds like the southwestern willow flycatcher and yellow-billed cuckoo as well as the northern Mexican garter snake. They are demanding federal officials conduct a more in-depth environmental review. Steve Spangle, a retired Fish and Wildlife Service field supervisor, told the Arizona Daily Star in April that he had similar concerns in 2016 but was pressured a year later to facilitate the permit anyway. He says an attorney with the Interior Department's solicitor's office warned him that a "high-level politico" thought he should change his assessment in favor of the development. Emails and calendars show that Bernhardt, as deputy Interior secretary, had an unofficial meeting at a lodge in Billings, Montana, with Ingram, the developer, in August 2017, CNN reported Tuesday. They discussed Villages at Vigneto, the congressional committee said.

TRUMP PLANS SOCIAL MEDIA "SUMMIT" IN RESPONSE TO BIG TECH'S CENSORSHIP: President Trump plans to gather Republican lawmakers, campaign strategists and online provocateurs for a “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday, rallying his political allies and escalating his attacks on Facebook, Google and Twitter ahead of the 2020 election. For Trump, the conference represents his highest profile broadside against Silicon Valley after months of accusing tech companies of censoring conservative users and websites. Facebook, Google and Twitter each has denied the president’s allegations of political bias, though none of them has been invited to the White House for Trump’s summit. Hours before the event, Trump tweeted that the focus of the conversation “will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” though he didn’t mention any by name. “We will not let them get away with it much longer,” he added. Some of the conservatives that Trump plans to consult Thursday themselves adopt controversial tactics on social media — or even have been disciplined by Facebook, Google or Twitter for running afoul of their rules. That includes James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas whose secretly recorded and highly edited videos of subjects have prompted widespread backlash, including from state authorities and people who have sued him in response.