Report details Mark Meadows’ frightening texts surrounding Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election

Rep. Mark Meadows speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol as debate on the articles of impeachment against President Trump continues on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the new and remarkable reports from the good people at Talking Points Memo detailing former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ text messages in and around the events of January 6, 2021 — what one author has dubbed the “roadmap to an insurrection.”

Among Meadows’ paranoid and delusional correspondents: North Carolina congressmen Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy and present day Senator-elect Ted Budd.

Indy Week editor Jane Porter provided the following handy guide to the TPM posts in this morning’s IW newsletter:

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the traitorous actions of former congressman and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows surrounding the 2020 election and plots to overturn it.

Now, on the nearly two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the news org Talking Points Memo is out with a series on Meadows’ text messages, including reporting on a scheme to reverse the vote for Biden in Arizona and a report publicly documenting Meadows’s text message exchanges with 34 members of congress for the first time over such plots which, TPM notes, include “battle cries, crackpot legal theories, and ‘invoking Marshall law!!”

Read the intro to TPM’s series of reporting on more than 2,000 text messages Meadows turned over to the U.S. House Select Committee investigating January 6.

Then read the full log of some 450 messages between Meadows and Republican members of congress who are helpfully indexed by name, state, and reaction at the bottom of the story.

Then go deeper on the machinations in Arizona with that state’s congressman Andy Biggs to reverse the vote and the coordination between Meadows and Pennsylvania Rep. and Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry on the scheme to seize voting machines from across the United States in order to, somehow, declare Trump the 2020 presidential election winner.

Wild stuff! Now that we have it all laid out in one place, doesn’t it seem like Meadows should go to prison for treason or something? Or is Meadows simply a not-very-smart but non-criminal victim of his own credulity and blind faith in Donald Trump?

Editorials decry GOP argument in Supreme Court redistricting case

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Republican lawmakers and their allies who cooked up the “independent state legislature theory” in recent years keep telling the world that the argument they’re advancing to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Moore v. Harper case is no big deal and that the outcry from scholars, judges, civil rights groups, and millions of citizens is all an overreaction.

But as editorials across North Carolina and in several major national news outlets have made clear in recent days, they’re not fooling anyone. The hard and sad truth is that by seeking to rob state courts of any authority to review legislative acts with respect to the conduct of federal elections, the Moore case poses a gigantic threat to American democracy. And this is true even if — as seems to be the case — Chief Justice Roberts and one or two of the less rabidly right-wing justices on the Court try to craft some kind of “middle ground” ruling.

As a fine editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer explained yesterday, Roberts’ hints that state courts might still be able to play a role if their state constitution very specifically spelled it out wouldn’t be much of a compromise:

The “compromise” could be that courts have no say over gerrymandering, or perhaps that they could only intervene in the very worst instances of gerrymandering.

Considering the danger that a broader interpretation of the legislature’s argument could pose, a compromise might seem like a good thing. It’s not. Redistricting shouldn’t be up to legislatures only, which is pretty much why we have three branches of government in the first place.

“Well, it could be worse” is hardly a comforting refrain, especially when it’s used in reference to the continued viability of our democracy. Yes, it’s a relief that at least five Supreme Court justices seem likely to reject the worst version of a theory that could be truly disastrous for democracy. But even a milder ruling could be plenty damaging in its own way — checks and balances is not something that anyone should want to compromise on.

Meanwhile, a spot-on Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on observed that our state constitution is very clear in its delineation of powers.

The job of the legislature includes enacting laws. The job of the courts includes determining whether the actions of the legislature are in accord with the State and U.S. constitutions.

And here’s the excellent conclusion:

“What I don’t understand is how you can cut the State Constitution out of the equation when it is giving the state legislature the authority to exercise legislative power,” said Justice Katanji Brown Jackson.

We agree with Justice Jackson. The U.S. Constitution delegates to the “legislature” the job of redistricting. It is the State Constitution that gives the General Assembly the authority to deal with the matter.  The State Constitution could, just as well, have given some other entity that authority.

Most significantly, the State Constitution – the voice and authority of the people — gives our courts the job of examining the work of the legislature. It is plain as the paper the words are written on.

The bottom line: One can only hope that the drumbeat of public opinion over the coming months helps convince Roberts to help turn a majority of the Court away from the dangerous and potentially disastrous path that the gerrymandering GOP lawmakers want to push it down.

Deciphering the election results in NC: It’s the gerrymandering, stupid

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Politicians and pundits are just beginning to sift through the results of the 2022 midterms in North Carolina and people of different partisan and ideological persuasions are, not surprisingly, drawing different conclusions.

Republicans and their supporters are celebrating a victory at the top of the ticket in the U.S. Senate race and relishing the opportunity that their new dominance of the Supreme Court and the General Assembly will likely provide to push state policy even further to the right. From their perspective, it’s hard to see last night as anything other than a vindication of their policies and campaign strategies.

Meanwhile, Democrats and their allies are taking solace from the surprising gains they achieved in the state’s congressional delegation, as well as their apparent success in preventing the GOP from winning a veto-proof supermajority in the state House of Representatives. They note that, together with the surprising strength Democrats showed across the country (particularly in defeating candidates loyal to Donald Trump), these results amount to a much-better-than-average midterm election performance for the party in control of the White House.

If there’s a single and most important conclusion to be drawn from North Carolina results, however, it is this: gerrymandering remains the key to GOP policy dominance.

Yes, Republicans did well in the statewide races by sweeping the Senate race and appellate court contests, but their winning margins hardly constituted landslides. Ted Budd won with 50.7% of the vote. The GOP judges were in the 52-54% range.

These kinds of numbers are not consistent (and should not produce) a General Assembly in which the Republicans hold big, three-to-two majorities — especially given that voters agree with Democrats by significant margins on a host of hot-button issues, including abortion rights, guns, the environment and healthcare.

The chief source of these inordinate numbers, of course, is partisan gerrymandering. The 7-7 split that Democrats achieved in U.S. House races, where the courts intervened more aggressively to assure fairer maps, provides further evidence of this.

When the final totals are compiled in the 170 legislative races, there’s no way that Republicans will have won 60% of the votes cast. Unfortunately, thanks to the gerrymandering that the GOP has baked into state elections for more than a decade (and the fact that when the going got tough and incredibly complex in reviewing and approving state legislative maps, the courts pulled back from assuring truly fair and non-gerrymandered districts), this won’t matter.

When it comes to making laws in 2023-24, a deeply purple state in which compromise and common ground ought to be the best hope for passing new laws, will instead remain dominated by the political right.

And, thanks to the GOP takeover of the state courts, it will also be one in which efforts to double down on aggressive partisan gerrymandering are sure to be revived yet again and, in all likelihood, receive even less judicial scrutiny.

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The key issues North Carolina voters are likely deciding today

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.

As noted in yesterday’s “Monday numbers” commentary, North Carolina is not a referendum state in which citizens can place initiatives on the ballot, but for better or worse, this year’s vote will serve, effectively, as referendum on several key issues of great importance (and on which voters tend to hold very strong opinions).

This is chiefly because two enormously important institutions will be greatly impacted by the outcome of the election.

First, of course, is the state legislature.

Thanks to aggressive partisan gerrymandering by GOP lawmakers, the legislature has leaned heavily Republican for years and will almost certainly continue to do so after this year’s election. That said, the critical question today is whether Republicans will win large veto-proof supermajorities in both the state Senate and House. This would require increasing GOP majorities by two seats in the Senate and three in the House.

If this happens, Gov. Cooper’s veto will cease to be effective and there will likely be little-to-no check on how far right state policy will shift on a raft of key issues.

The list includes:

  • abortion rights, where North Carolina would almost certainly cease to be a sanctuary state for patients from throughout the southeast,
  • guns, where even more laws to loosen access to firearms would be a virtual certainty,
  • education, where further expansion of vouchers and charters and renewed efforts to micromanage curricula will be on tap,
  • health care access, where the prospects of Medicaid expansion would be dealt another strong blow,
  • LGBTQ rights, where lawmakers can be expected to do everything in their power erect new limits — particularly for transgender people,
  • environmental protection, where the state’s limited ongoing efforts to address climate change will be further restricted or reversed,
  • fiscal policy, where ongoing efforts to end the state’s personal corporate income taxes will gain new momentum, and
  • redistricting, where the GOP seems likely to try again to further gerrymander legislative and congressional districts.

And, of course, all of these efforts would almost certainly be further bolstered if the GOP captures control of a second institution — the state Supreme Court. Currently, Democrats enjoy a 4-3 majority on the high court — a situation that has allowed it to hand down a number of progressive rulings on several issues in recent years — including education funding, environmental protection, voting rights, and redistricting.

Two of the court’s four Democratic seats are on the ballot in today’s election and if Republicans capture either one, most observers expect a hard right turn on the court.

In particular, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which a Republican-dominated court aggressively undermines recent rulings on partisan gerrymandering — a development that would allow the legislature to redraw maps yet again so as to guarantee even larger GOP majorities in both the legislature and the state’s congressional delegation.

Interestingly, public opinion polls tend to show that most North Carolinians are opposed to the aggressive conservative policy changes described above, but for now, other polls seem to indicate that this is unlikely to be reflected in today’s vote, which is expected to follow the long-standing American tradition of favoring the party out of power in the White House.

If this ends up being the result, it will be fascinating to see how North Carolinians respond in the months and years ahead to having facilitated a bevy of policy changes with which they disagree.


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The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

In this issue:

1. BREAKING: NC Supreme Court issues much anticipated rulings on education funding, environmental protection

After nearly three decades of litigation, Leandro case finally comes to a head as justices order lawmakers to fund court-approved education improvement plan

By Greg Childress

In a dramatic ruling issued just days before midterm elections, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling and ordered the transfer of millions of dollars to pay for a school improvement plan designed to provide the state’s school children with the sound basic education guaranteed under the state constitution.


Justices rule chemical giants cannot escape liability for PFAS pollution in southeastern NC

By Lisa Sorg

The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s finding that “New DuPont” and Corteva are liable for potential legal damages in North Carolina related to PFAS contamination, according to a ruling published today.

[Read more…]

2. Out-of-state patients spur abortion increase in North Carolina

Many more people are seeking abortions in North Carolina since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court rescinded the constitutional right to abortion and neighboring states began outlawing or severely restricting abortions.

Fifty-three percent of the people coming to A Woman’s Choice North Carolina clinics are from out of state, spokeswoman Amber Gavin said in an interview. At least one person has come as far away as Missouri.

Getting to North Carolina from out of state is a “complicated balancing act,” for patients, Gavin said, that depends on whether they are flying in or driving, where they can get an appointment, and where the physicians they need to see are located. “We are really seeing folks from all over the South,” she said.

[Read more…]

**BONUS COMMENTARY: North Carolina physician: Why I’m terrified about the prospect of an abortion ban in our state

Photo: Forward Justice/Unlock the Vote Facebook page

3. PW special report: Restoring hope in the vote among those with felony convictions in North Carolina

More than 50,000 North Carolinians can vote this fall thanks to a court ruling that restored the rights of people on probation and parole. But their gains are precarious.

This article was produced as a collaboration between Bolts and NC Policy Watch.

One hot afternoon in early October, Corey Purdie helped put the finishing touches on the exterior of the 300-square-foot house at Broad and Queen streets in New Bern, North Carolina. He touched up a corner of the building with white paint as other volunteers interrupted him to ask questions, say hello and point out that he was using the wrong paintbrush. Soon, an elderly man would move into the bright blue house, the first place he’d be able to call his own after spending more than eight years in prison and about three in a halfway house.

[Read more…]

**BONUS READ: Concerns grow that voter intimidation could disrupt midterm elections

4. Gov. Cooper’s new commission will study how the UNC System is governed, but change is unlikely

After years of conflict and controversy within the UNC System, a bipartisan commission will study its governance, but without the power to implement changes, it’s unclear what impact the commission’s work will have.

On Tuesday Gov. Roy Cooper announced the Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, created by executive order. It will be headed by former UNC System presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a prominent Democrat and Republican, respectively.

“North Carolina’s public universities are our most valuable assets,” Cooper said in a statement. “And the key to building a stronger economy with opportunity for everyone and they need serious, diverse leadership committed to working together for the good of our students, faculty, future employers and our state.”

[Read more]

5. Report: Decline in teachers with traditional education degrees linked to growth in charter schools

As charter schools proliferate across America, there has been a corresponding decline in the number of new teachers earning bachelor’s degrees in education from traditional preparation programs, according to a new study from the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH). Researchers Doug Harris, the national director of REACH, and Mary Penn, a research partner at the center, found that for every 10% increase in charter school enrollment, the supply of teachers who earn bachelor’s degrees in traditional educator preparation programs decreases by 13.5% to 15.2% on average.

Between 2007 and 2016, the number of new teachers decreased by about 20%. And roughly one in five classroom teachers now comes from alternative preparation programs; the remainder graduate from traditional programs.

[Read more…]

**BONUS READ: State Board of Education to receive teacher licensure and pay proposal next month

6. Report shows contaminated groundwater is migrating toward Teer Quarry, site of Durham’s future water supply

High levels of several toxic chemicals have been detected in groundwater near Teer Quarry, storage site for Durham’s future water supply, and are migrating toward the pit itself, state documents show.

However, it is still uncertain if these compounds will reach the quarry, and if so, at what concentrations.

The contaminant of greatest concern is 1,4-Dioxane, a likely carcinogen. It was found in more than half of the 26 groundwater monitoring wells at levels 3 to 50 times above the state’s target value for water supplies, according to a consultant’s report filed with the NC Department of Environmental Quality.

[Read more…]

7. The hard truth that no candidate of either party has the courage to speak anymore (Commentary)

To the relief of just about everyone – with the possible exception of advertising sales staff at the nation’s media companies – the 2022 midterms will soon be over.

In just a few days, Americans are likely to know the answers to a host of momentous questions:

  • Will the work that’s finally commenced to address the global environmental crisis proceed or stall?
  • Will the levers of democracy in several states be placed in the hands of politicians who embrace delusional conspiracy theories?
  • Will the nation soon come face-to-face with the real prospect of default on the national debt and a federal government shutdown?
  • Will U.S. opposition to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and its support for democracy in Ukraine continue or be upended?
  • Will abortion rights in states like North Carolina be further eroded?
[Read more…]

8. NC judge orders community services for more people with disabilities. The state objects, saying the deadlines are unrealistic.

Thousands of people with disabilities would receive services to help keep them out of institutions, and a waiting list of more than 16,000 North Carolinians needing direct care would be whittled to zero over 10 years under a sweeping court order issued this week.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour’s order follows his 2020 decision that the state is breaking the law by failing to provide needed services that would enable people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live outside institutions. The order is part of the “Samantha R.” lawsuit Disability Rights NC filed in 2017 on behalf of people who were institutionalized or faced institutionalization.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Tim Rhoney, Samantha’s father.

[Read more…]

9. Weekly Radio Interviews and daily Radio Commentaries:

Click here for the latest radio interviews and commentaries with Policy Watch Director Rob Schofield.



10. Weekly Editorial Cartoon: