Tuesday News: It's the principle of the thing


NC SENATE PASSES NEW MAP, WITH SOME DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION: Raleigh Sen. Dan Blue, the top Democrat, vouched for the maps as well as Hise. Blue, a former N.C. Speaker of the House, has been involved in numerous redistricting efforts in past decades in North Carolina and was in the thick of this one as well. “I think it was a remarkable experience, especially when you consider the current political climate,” he said. Of the state Senate’s 50 members, 21 are Democrats. Most followed Blue’s lead and joined their Republican colleagues to support the new maps. But eight voted against the maps. A common refrain from the opponents was that they simply don’t think politicians should be able to draw their own maps in the first place. “These are the fairest maps, and this was the fairest process, in North Carolina in my lifetime,” Charlotte Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson said. Still, Jackson said he was voting against the maps because “independent redistricting would look just like the process we just went through, except it wouldn’t be politicians doing it.”

MINI-BUDGETS HIT GOVERNOR'S DESK WHILE VETO IS IN PLACE: A North Carolina budget veto has slowed state government for months, so lawmakers have sent Gov. Roy Cooper more stand-alone legislation containing popular provisions from that spending plan. Cooper now has four spending bills on his desk that address school and prison safety, disaster relief and testing sexual assault evidence kits. All received unanimous support. The school and rape kit bills got final legislative approval with House votes late Monday. Republican legislators have described these "mini-budgets" as a way to unlock spending for initiatives stuck since Cooper vetoed the two-year budget in June. The Democratic governor signed four other state employee pay bills in August. More bills may be unnecessary if the Senate soon overrides the budget veto. The House overrode it last week in a vote that surprised Democrats.

NC HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS IN HOT WATER OVER POSING WITH "TRUMP 2020" BANNER: A high school cheerleading squad in North Carolina is on probation after some cheerleaders posed with a banner supporting President Donald Trump before a football game. Stanly County Schools Superintendent Jeff James told The Associated Press in an email Monday that the warning was levied by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. It happened before the Aug. 30 game at North Stanly High School, northeast of Charlotte. News outlets reported that the banner read: "Trump 2020: Make America Great Again." The superintendent said the probation simply means "don't do it again." He says all North Carolina schools have a policy against displaying political signs. The district said the banner's display wasn't planned or endorsed by the school or staff.

TRUMP'S TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR PROMOTING FAMILY BUSINESS: The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday sought documents from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as it investigates what it calls “troubling questions” into whether the Trump appointee misused her position for personal and family benefit. Noting that federal employees are forbidden from using public office for friends’ or relatives’ “private gain,” the committee’s letter to Chao cites media reports that allege the secretary leveraged her position to help Foremost Group — a New York-based shipping company that carries goods between the United States and China and that is owned by her father and sisters — gain “influence and status” with the Chinese government that has given the firm millions in loans. The sweeping request for documents follows growing scrutiny of Chao and joins a host of inquiries into the Trump administration by a Democrat-led House. The committee cites reporting by the New York Times this summer that the Transportation Department canceled a fall 2017 trip to China after State Department staff members grew leery of Chao’s efforts to include relatives in meetings with Chinese officials. House investigators are also examining Chao’s appearances with her father, James Chao, in interviews that featured the DOT’s seal, and Monday’s letter alleges the secretary’s father “touted [Chao’s] influence within the United States government and boasted about his access to President Trump on Air Force One.”

COREY LEWANDOWSKI SET TO TESTIFY IN CONGRESS TODAY, WILL LIKELY DEFEND TRUMP: Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and continued confidant, Mr. Lewandowski was enlisted in an ultimately unsuccessful scheme by the president in the summer of 2017 to significantly curtail the special counsel’s investigation, effectively ending scrutiny of his campaign. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, eventually found out about it and included it among the roughly 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump documented in his report and now being studied by the House Judiciary Committee. But if Democrats on the committee hope that Mr. Lewandowski’s public confirmation of the written report can jump-start their impeachment case, their sharp-tongued witness has goals of his own: to aggressively defend Mr. Trump and possibly to even jump-start his own potential Senate campaign in New Hampshire. The hearing in the Judiciary Committee chambers is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern and should last through much of the afternoon.