Tuesday morning news: February 19, 2019

N.C. Board of Elections hears evidence of voter fraud in Ninth District » More than three months after the midterm elections, voters in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District still do not have a voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s because allegations of ballot fraud have prevented the state from certifying a winner. On Monday, the state board of elections held a hearing to review the evidence.

CORDLE: The state board, and I believe the people of North Carolina, believe that our voters must have trust in our process, and believe that their vote must be counted, and they believe that elections must be fair. 

Board Chairman Bob Cordle. State Elections Director Kim Strach said officials found evidence of foul play in the November election.

STRACH: We believe the evidence we will provide today will show that a coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme operated during the 2018 general election in Bladen and Robeson counties. 

She said a political operative working for Republican candidate Mark Harris paid people to collect mail-in ballots in unsealed envelopes, meaning they could have been altered. Right now Harris has a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready.

The board, comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans, will consider the evidence. It can then opt to certify a winner or order a new election in North Carolina’s Ninth District.

Acting Defense secretary considering border wall funds » Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Pentagon is reviewing President Trump’s emergency declaration and how best to shift funds for construction of a border wall.   

SHANAHAN: We’ve identified the steps we would take to make those decisions. This is the important part of that—we’ve laid that out so we could do it quickly. We don’t want to fumble through this process. 

Congress approved about $1.4 billion for border barriers in a funding bill last week, less than one-fourth of what President Trump asked for.

Through last week’s emergency declaration, the president wants to use billions in military funding to build the wall. The White House has has discussed using $3.6 billion that Congress originally provided for military construction projects and $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction program.

Shanahan said he will make the final call on the use of those military funds. He made clear that money allocated for building or repairing military housing will not be used.

President Trump fires back at former FBI acting director » President Trump took aim at former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe on Monday. He tweeted “Wow, so many lies.” He said the “now disgraced” Andrew McCabe “was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged.”

He was responding to McCabe’s weekend interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, in which he suggested, among other things that the president was behind his firing.

MCCABE: He made it quite clear that he wanted me gone before I could retire. I believe I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States. 

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe last year on the recommendation of the Justice Department’s inspector general. The IG’s report found that McCabe was not honest with investigators about leaking information to the press.

President Trump also responded to McCabe’s claim that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Trump wrote it looks “like they were planning a very illegal act,” adding “There is a lot of explaining to do.”

Wisconsin Gov. Evers makes push to legalize marijuana » Governor Tony Evers is pushing to make Wisconsin the newest marijuana-friendly state.

EVERS: I’m announcing today that in our budget we will decriminalize marijuana in amounts of 25 grams or less.

The new Democratic governor also said it was time for Wisconsin to join more than 30 other states in legalizing medical marijuana.

But his plan will be a tough sell in the Republican-controlled legislature. GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the proposal appears to make it “easier to get recreational marijuana and provides a pathway to full legalization, which I do not support.”

British lawmakers want rules to rein in “digital gangsters” » British lawmakers issued a scathing report Monday that calls for tougher rules on Facebook and other tech giants to keep them from acting like—quote—“digital gangsters.”

The report on fake news and disinformation on social media sites followed an 18-month investigation by Parliament’s media committee. That committee sounded alarms about tech companies violating data privacy and competition laws.

The report called out Facebook, saying the site’s structure appears designed to “conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions.”

The committee said social media sites should have to follow a mandatory code of ethics and suggested an independent regulator should enforce the rules.

Harvest elders resign » Key elders at a Chicago megachurch are stepping down amid a leadership crisis that saw its senior pastor fired last week. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Members of the executive committee of elders at Harvest Bible Chapel have announced that they’ll resign in the coming months. That after the church fired Senior Pastor James MacDonald last week.

At weekend services, church elder Bill Sperling read a statement saying MacDonald exhibited “a sinful pattern of inappropriate language, anger, and domineering behavior,” adding the elders should have addressed it sooner and more openly.

The church fired MacDonald after a Chicago radio show aired a recording of him making vulgar and inflammatory remarks.

In December, an investigative report in WORLD Magazine detailed financial mismanagement and a culture of deception and intimidation at the church.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) In this June 7, 2017, file photo, then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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