Wednesday News: Defending millionaires


BERGER CUTS EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN DEMOCRATS' DISTRICTS TO PRESERVE TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY: N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger is defending Republican legislators’ controversial 3 a.m. move to strip funding from several education programs in counties represented by Democrats. He argues that the change was necessary to address the state’s opioid epidemic without raising taxes. Under the proposal from Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County, the reduction in the personal income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent wouldn’t apply to higher income taxpayers. For example, married couples filing jointly and earning more than $1 million annually would continue to pay the 5.499 percent rate, while those earning less would pay 5.35 percent.

CHELSEA MANNING DUE TO BE RELEASED FROM FEDERAL PRISON: Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier convicted of giving classified government materials to WikiLeaks, is due to be released from a Kansas military prison on Wednesday after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence. President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January. Though she's set to be released from Fort Leavenworth, Manning's lawyers and the Army have refused to say when and how she'll be freed due to potential security concerns. Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning before transitioning in prison, was convicted in 2013 of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.

TRUMP ASKED COMEY TO DROP MICHAEL FLYNN INVESTIGATION: President Donald Trump asked the FBI director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Comey, according to the memo. The existence of Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into links between Trump’s associates and Russia.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY IN WIFE-SWAPPING SCAM RESIGNS UNDER FIRE: Wallace Bradsher resigned Monday as district attorney for Person and Caswell counties as a state investigation continues into allegations that Bradsher and another district attorney had hired each other's wives for no-show jobs. A former employee in Bradsher's office tipped off the SBI to the alleged scheme and filed a whistleblower lawsuit in February after he fired her. The lawsuit alleges that Bradsher hired his wife, Pam Bradsher, as a legal assistant when he was elected in 2011, despite a memo from the state Administrative Office of the Courts that judicial branch employees couldn't hire their spouses. Blitzer was elected to his first term in 2014 and immediately hired his wife, Cindy Blitzer, as a legal assistant, according to the lawsuit, and the two women "swapped jobs" a couple of weeks later.

ISRAEL TRIES TO ACT LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED AFTER TRUMP BETRAYAL: Israel’s defense minister is lauding the country’s security cooperation with the United States following President Donald Trump’s disclosure of classified information to senior Russian officials. Avigdor Lieberman says Wednesday that the security relationship is “deep, meaningful and unprecedented.” He tweeted: “That is how it has been and that is how it will continue to be.” Israel has yet to acknowledge reports it was the source of the highly classified information about an Islamic State plot that Trump divulged to Russian diplomats. Trump is due to arrive in Israel next week during his first overseas trip as president. Israel has looked to Trump as a close ally but there has been growing apprehension over his unpredictability. Lieberman’s comments appear aimed at calming concerns over the fraying of close ties.