NC Sedition Caucus Seeks Unity, Gives Trump a Pass
Move over, Buchanan; Trump’s coming + healthy democracy watch + Malik hunts for Courage cash + Wake rethinks classrooms + Tim Moore’s summer school + NC’s unemployment backlog
Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
Happy Thursday, everyone … Today’s newsletter is about an eight-minute read.
Weather: High of 61, mostly sunny. (WRAL)
On This Day:
1784: The U.S. Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War.
1834: William Polk, the last surviving field officer of North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, died in Raleigh.
1868: North Carolina’s post-Civil War constitutional convention met in Raleigh. Thirteen members of the “Black Caucus” attended.
1952: The Today Show premiered.
1972: Sanford & Son premiered.
1978: The Sex Pistols played their final concert.
Today’s Number: 26
Sworn law enforcement agents identified so far who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol insurrection. (The Appeal)
Journalists have requested vacation and leave records from major law enforcement agencies all over the country for the days around the rally in an effort to identify additional cops.
Yesterday, I made similar requests to the Raleigh Police Department, Durham Police Department, Wake County Sheriff’s Office, and Durham County Sheriff’s Office. So far, only the DCSO has responded — to say those records aren’t public.
+TODAY’S TOP 7
1. Move Over, James Buchanan
By the time Donald Trump took office, surveys of historians had pretty consistently settled the question of the worst five American presidents. The order might bounce around depending on the year or the survey, but in general, it went something like this:
John Tyler (1841–45): His Accidency was the first to have a veto overridden and the first to be kicked out of his own party. He later joined the Confederacy.
Warren G. Harding (1921–23): Harding was forward-thinking on race but corrupt as hell.
Franklin Pierce (1853–57): He ran over a woman with his horse and zealously enforced the Fugitive Slave Act.
Andrew Johnson (1865–69): The first impeached president, Lincoln’s self-absorbed successor undermined Black civil rights following the war.
James Buchanan (1857–61): The only “confirmed bachelor” POTUS twiddled his thumbs while the South seceded.
Historians already place Trump in this bottom rung. Initial evaluations often get revised as time passes, but that seems unlikely here. If anything, the more we learn about the Trump administration, the more likely it is he’ll end up in a basement all to himself.
One week from yesterday, Trump will leave office as the only president to:
Be impeached twice. (See below.)
Preside over 400,000 deaths to a pandemic he intentionally downplayed.
Leave an economy with fewer jobs than when he took over.
Lose two consecutive popular votes.
Try to overturn election results by making obviously false accusations of fraud (since 1876, anyway).
2. N.C. Republicans Give Trump a Pass, Demand Calm
As expected, the House of Representatives voted 232–197 to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in condemning the president.
Few Republicans defended Trump. Instead, they argued that impeachment was “divisive” and engaged in various forms of whataboutism.
Mitch McConnell announced he couldn’t reconvene the Senate to hold a trial until the day before the inauguration, meaning a trial won’t be held until Joe Biden is in office.
North Carolina’s eight GOP reps opposed the impeachment:
Greg Murphy: Opposed impeachment as “unnecessary and partisan.”
David Rouzer: “The impeachment of President Trump today does nothing to unite this country; it only makes that effort more difficult in the coming weeks and months ahead. Today’s impeachment is a knee-jerk reaction grounded in anger and disgust, which are genuine emotions that we all feel.”
Madison Cawthorn: “Why beat the country up so heavily for something you won’t be able to debate on the Senate floor just because there’s not time to get it to the Senate floor?” (The Senate can try Trump after he leaves office.)
Ted Budd: “Unfortunately, at a moment that calls for calm and peace, House Democrats are again ratcheting up the political volume through an impeachment with just one week left in the president's term.”
Virginia Foxx: “As Congress, the American people, and the nation seek justice, the current calls for a “snap” impeachment and unprecedented, supra-Constitutional remedies must cease. We cannot abridge the safeguards that are explicitly used to enshrine justice in the name of justice itself.”
Dan Bishop: What about the First Amendment?!
Richard Hudson: "Rather than lashing out at our political opponents, every one of us needs to ask ourselves what we can do to tone down the temperature of the rhetoric, the rancor, and the violence.”
Patrick McHenry: “Doing this less than a week before President-elect Biden takes the oath is simply absurd.”
All but McHenry voted to overturn the 2020 election results.
3. Healthy Democracy Watch
Part 2: On message boards, pro-Trump Oath Keepers militia members have become obsessed with targeting the media.
“Since Donald Trump’s decisive loss in the 2020 presidential election, the Oath Keepers escalated their rhetoric: encouraging violent attacks on anti-racist and liberal protesters as well as members of the news media. Leaked private communications from inside the militia group, obtained by Unicorn Riot and available to download below, show their members are growing increasingly desperate and specific in violent ideations.”
Part 3: Seems like this deserves further investigation.
SHOT: Weeks before the insurrection, a right-wing activist said he was planning “something big” for Jan. 6 with three Republican congressmen. (WaPo)
CHASER: Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff says that when she hid from the mob, she discovered that the panic buttons in her office had been ripped out. (Twitter, Boston Globe, sub. req.)
Part 4: Governor Cooper mobilized 200 national guardsmen to deploy to Washington, D.C., to assist with Biden’s inauguration and another 350 to protect against rumored armed demonstrations at the state Capitol.
Federal agents warned city police chiefs “to be on high alert and generous with intelligence as police departments around the country ramped up preparations for the week leading into the inauguration.”
“With the U.S. Capitol fortified by an intensive security operation, the officials seemed concerned about potential attacks on state capitols, federal buildings, the homes of congressional members and businesses.” (NYT)
4. What’s Malik Up To?
On Sunday, North Carolina FC owner Stephen Malik announced that his team was self-relegating from the second tier of professional American soccer, the USL-Championship, to the third tier, USL League One.
Though pitched as a way to emphasize youth-to-pro development, there’s an obvious financial aspect: Team dues for the upper tier are more than twice as high as for the lower tier, and in a pandemic, you can’t expect strong attendance.
Malik, of course, is a partner on Downtown South, the proposed magedevelopment that will be anchored by a soccer stadium. You’d think having a second tier — and, hopefully, one day, MLS — franchise call the stadium home would be a strong selling point as Malik and John Kane ask Raleigh for tax incentives.
On the other hand, NC Courage — the women’s side of Malik’s soccer club — has consistently been more successful on the pitch. The Courage ended the 2019 season with the fourth-best attendance in the NWSL and attracted more fans in 12 games than their male counterparts did in 17.
With that as background, the TBJ (sub. req.) reported yesterday that Malik was raising $5 million in equity for the NC Courage. He wouldn’t go into details about why:
“We are bringing in some equity partners to broaden the ownership base of the club. The intention of that is to provide additional resources. Basically, we want to continue to be the best women’s club team in the world.”
“He teased a coming announcement in the next ‘few weeks.’”
To recap: Malik is saving money on his men’s team while infusing cash into his women’s team in the midst of finalizing Raleigh’s biggest real estate project since (I think) North Hills.
5. Wake Schools Rethinks In-Person Classes
Wake County students are scheduled to return to classrooms part-time starting next week. But with COVID case numbers still rising, administrators want to hit the breaks, the N&O reports.
“Superintendent Cathy Moore is recommending that all of Wake’s 157,000 students remain in remote instruction and that administrators will review the situation in mid-February to determine next steps.”
Neighboring school districts are sticking with remote learning, and Wake’s teachers and principals have objected to returning.
The school board will meet today to consider revising its plan. Some parents are likely to be vocally displeased.
6. Tim Moore Proposes Summer School Program
It’s no secret that grades (and attendance) have suffered in the Year of Remote Learning. More students might end up repeating a grade next year than in a century. So in the ceremonial opening day of the General Assembly’s long session, House Speaker Tim Moore talked about funding a summer school program, though he hadn’t worked out the details.
“Moore said he didn't have details, and the idea was in its infancy. But he talked about funding not only teacher salaries but student transportation.”
“Moore and other General Assembly leaders have said coronavirus issues, including those tied to education, will be a top priority at the beginning of this legislative session.” (WRAL)
In his opening remarks to the session, Moore says legislators “succeed by challenging one another to be our best.”
7. NC Unemployment Appeals Hit a Lengthy Backlog
Finally, I didn’t want this story — from Sophie Kasakove, a Report for America fellow at the N&O — to get lost with everything else happening. With the state Division of Employment Security swamped by the pandemic, appeals of unemployment denials are taking months longer than usual to process.
[Janita] Watkins’ appeal is one of over 62,000 filed over unemployment claims between Apr. 1, 2020, and Jan. 7 according to the Division of Employment Security. Over 40% of those — 26,687 — have yet to be heard, and over 24,000 have yet to be scheduled.
Before the pandemic, an appeal of denied benefits like Watkins’ would likely have been heard within 20 days, according to DES.
But now, the surge in unemployment claims has overwhelmed the agency. The average time between when a person files an appeal and receives notification of a hearing date is anywhere from two and a half to five and a half months, DES spokesperson Kerry McComber said. Then, claimants have to wait another two to three weeks on average for the hearing itself.
+NEED TO KNOW
—> Local & State
Despite the surge in COVID cases, new Chief Justice Paul Newby will force courts to reopen. (N&O)
After the winning Democratic candidate was declared ineligible to serve, Wake Republicans have sued to block Governor Cooper from filling a judicial opening. (WRAL)
On Wednesday, the first day that students could move in, UNC-Chapel Hill reported a cluster of COVID cases. The cases involved students who stayed on campus over the winter break. (N&O)
On Tuesday night, Carrboro became the second Orange County town to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance that included LGBTQ people. Chapel Hill became the third last night. (CBS 17)
Kappa Sigma lost its Chapel Hill house and got suspended by the national fraternity after members were charged in a drug bust. (ABC 11)
A Republican who pleaded guilty to fraud paid a Republican who resigned from ECU’s board of trustees after trying to bribe a student president candidate to erect a giant billboard in Eastern North Carolina that says “FAKE NEWS.” That’ll show ’em. (N&O)
—> Nation & World
Michigan Republicans want to change the state’s presidential election system so that Detroit (read: Black) voters don’t matter so much. (ABC 13)
After the Supreme Court overturned a stay, the Trump administration executed the mentally ill Lisa Montgomery. Two more executions are scheduled for this week. (Guardian)
New York City ended its contracts with the Trump Organization. (NYT)
Airbnb canceled all D.C. reservations during inauguration week. (WaPo)
—> Science & Tech
Facebook says it has seen signs warning of more political violence. (CNN)
The Earth’s oceans are storing dangerous amounts of heat. (ScienceNews)
The problem with owning a fortune in Bitcoin is that, if you can’t remember your password, it’s worthless. (NYT)
Amazon’s response to Parler’s dumb lawsuit is amazing and deserves its own audiobook. (Court doc)
After confusion over the updated terms of service for Facebook’s WhatsApp, the encrypted messenger Signal became the hottest free app this week. (CNN)
Conservatives who used the word “Orwellian” to describe Twitter canceling Trump are not very acquainted with Orwell. (Slate)
—> Culture & Entertainment
Bruce Willis was asked to leave a Rite-Aid for not wearing a mask. Let us have jokes. (AV Club)
Have you ever wondered why a cannoli resembles a phallus? No? Why not? (BBC)
Shakira has sold her 145-song catalog to a royalties firm for an undisclosed sum. (Guardian)
Jessica Campbell, who starred in the high-school comedy Election and later became a naturopathic physician, died unexpectedly last month. (Vulture)