Wednesday News: Slap on the wrist


NO CHARGES WILL BE FILED IN ANDREW BROWN'S EXECUTION: The district attorney for Pasquotank County will not bring criminal charges against sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City — a move that led to increased tension and protest over police violence. District Attorney Andrew Womble announced the news while discussing the state’s investigation at a news conference in the county’s public safety building Tuesday. Womble said Brown’s death “while tragic, was justified” because his actions caused three deputies to “reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.” Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, in a video statement posted on Facebook, said the three deputies involved will keep their jobs, but be “disciplined and retrained.”

DAVID LEWIS WILL GET PROBATION FOR MISAPPROPRIATING CAMPAIGN FUNDS: Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, resigned from the North Carolina House last year as he cut a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office, pleading guilty to lying to a bank and failing to file a tax return. Investigators said he took several hundred thousand dollars from his campaign account to cover farm bills, then paid the money back. "While the defendant's criminal conduct was both serious and willful, neither the defendant's campaign nor any financial institution suffered a loss, he admitted his wrongdoing before an indictment was presented to a grand jury, and he accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty and resigning his seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives," attorneys with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina and the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section said in a joint filing. The filing says Lewis "violated the trust of his donors, voters and constituents when he used his campaign funds for personal and business expenses" and that, to facilitate the scheme, he lied to a bank in order to open an account for a business that didn't exist.

NC AG JOSH STEIN WANTS MORE MONEY TO TEST BACKLOG OF SEXUAL ASSAULT KITS: More than half of the untested sexual assault kits recently accounted for in law enforcement evidence lockers across North Carolina have now been tested or are awaiting testing at labs, Attorney General Josh Stein said on Tuesday. Giving an update with legislators on the implementation of a 2019 law that set aside $6 million to test many of the kits, Stein said whittling down the backlog has resulted in at least 40 arrests, delivering justice to survivors of sexual assault. Stein said another $9 million is needed from legislators to eliminate the backlog entirely. “Each kit comes from a person who suffered a terrible trauma and then willingly provided evidence ... we owe it to them to test their kits.” Stein said at a Legislative Building news conference. “The General Assembly and law enforcement agencies across the state have made incredible progress in tackling this problem. But we have to keep working together to get across the finish line.” Additional money was always going to be needed to eliminate the backlog, but Stein said the need is greater because the state's price to get a private lab to complete a test has increased by more than 75%. He said the backlog should be fully eliminated by May 2023 if the $9 million is approved.

CONFEDERATE "MEMORIAL" SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW IN DOWNTOWN GRAHAM: On Thursday, parts of Graham's Court Square will become a venue for a Confederate memorial, said Thomas May, the event's primary organizer as noted on documents submitted to the Alamance County Sheriff's Office. "May 20th this year will mark the 160-year anniversary North Carolina seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy," May said. "I figured that was a good reason to have an event." Graham's Confederate monument was dedicated in 1914, a half-century after the Civil War ended. While May maintained that both the Confederate monument and the upcoming Confederate memorial are not racist, Ellison said distancing the Confederacy from racism isn't possible. "I feel that if we are discussing the idea of the Confederacy, I don't feel like the two can be separated," Ellison said. "The idea of racism is embedded in what that stands for." Ellison said she plans to keep her counter-protestors away from those taking part in the Confederate memorial. While May's memorial will take place at and around the Confederate monument, Ellison's counter-protest will be at a nearby protest area in front of Graham's City Hall. "Our idea was to counter-protest the idea of [celebrating] the Confederacy, but not be blatantly disrespectful," Ellison said before alluding to several of last year's protests in which Confederate supporters were allowed to physically disrupt and agitate demonstrations. "We're going to give them their space to be down there...and we're going to be at more of a protected space."

TRUMP IS NOTIFIED THAT NEW YORK INVESTIGATIONS HAVE BECOME CRIMINAL IN NATURE: "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature," said Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office. "We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA. We have no additional comment at this time." The attorney general's notification to the Trump Organization suggested a cooperative relationship has developed between investigators working for James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose office has been heading a criminal probe into the company and its officers since 2018. Both officials are Democrats. A person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the district attorney was not specifically mentioned in James's letter to Trump's company. The attorney general's decision appears to have increased the legal risk that former president Donald Trump faces in New York, where the parallel investigations run by James and Vance had already delved more deeply into Trump's byzantine finances than any law enforcement authorities ever had. Previously, the danger posed by James's investigation seemed to be merely financial — the kind of lawsuit Trump had faced from New York attorneys general before over his Trump University and his charity. Those cost him money but didn't threaten his liberty. Now, however, James could also seek criminal penalties. And she appears to be cooperating with Vance's office, a move that could allow the two wide-ranging investigations to share data. The attorney general and district attorney have also teamed up in a state court-level investigation of Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to Trump who was indicted in federal court for allegedly defrauding contributors to a private fundraising campaign. Trump pardoned Bannon in the federal case in January, just before his departure from the White House.



Not holding my breath

I mean, I'm glad to see the investigation(s) move from civil to criminal, because Trump doesn't even bat an eye at lawsuits anymore. I doubt a day has passed in the last 25 years when he wasn't involved in at least one or two.

But since 30% of Americans worship him like a golden calf, getting a unanimous "guilty" verdict from a criminal jury is probably impossible. And I don't see him taking a plea deal that would involve incarceration, unless the prison also has a frickin' golf course on the grounds.

But it's worth a shot.

If the trial is in NYC...

they might have a good shot at convicting him. He's made himself pretty much toxic in the city and any half-decent prosecutor (and both Vance and James are a lot better than that) should be able to screen out any actual Trumpanzies from a jury. We might have the pleasure of seeing the Orange one wearing his signature color after all, which would be the final nail in his political coffin. He might still get his loyal 30%, but no one else would even think about voting for him after that. No matter what the GQP seems to think, you can't win elections by only appealing to 30% of the electorate.