N.C. Voters Demand Polls Stay Open Late After Technical Glitches
Voting rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina board of elections in an effort to force the state to extend voting in Durham County.
The suit alleges that some voters faced excessive wait time after electronic poll books stopped working and the county switched to paper books. The switch also prevented the precincts from printing out new “Authorization to Vote” forms, the suit claims, adding: “As a result, numerous voters were turned away and could not vote.”
Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens is expected to preside over the emergency hearing shortly.
The state board has so far declined requests to extend the hours, but has said a meeting will be held at 6 p.m. ET to consider the issue.
"We have received dozens of calls as of 11 a.m. today of issues in Durham County," wrote Allison Riggs, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Justice, to the state Board of Elections.
Riggs wrote that electronic poll books broke down, forcing precincts to use paper books and causing long delays. She added that this also caused precincts to run out of paper "Authorization to Vote" forms. As a result, Riggs wrote, some voters were told to come back later.
"This is not acceptable," wrote Riggs.
She asked that the polls be kept open until 8:30 p.m., an hour later than scheduled, and said if the board declines to do so, “we will pursue all legal options available to us."
Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the state board, said the board would meet later Tuesday to decide whether to extend voting hours.
“We had some glitches in a few precincts with the computers, so the state board, out of an abundance of caution, directed all of Durham County to use paper poll books instead of the computer poll books. We are working right now with the county to try to speed up the process so there are not major delays," he said in a statement to NBC News.
In a statement, the state board of elections said: “The State Board Office has been in constant communication with Durham elections officials and has sent staff to assist throughout the day. Durham County employees have been dispatched to Durham precincts to ensure they have the supplies they need and to collect information about voting disruptions in each precinct, if any."
It added, "Durham elections officials have not reported significant wait times in most precincts throughout most of the day Tuesday."
The board is expected to meet later Tuesday to consider the request to extend voting hours.
Trump's Inaugural Committee Yet to on Decide Lobbyist Ban
While President-elect Donald Trump's transition has placed restrictions on some lobbyists from serving in the transition, the inaugural committee has not yet made such determinations
Three members of the inaugural committee, which is stacked with Trump's and Vice Preisdent-elect Mike Pence's top donors and fundraisers, told NBC News that a decision hasn't yet been made on whether restrictions will be placed on the amount a person could give to or if a ban on lobbyists or corporations would be instituted.
An announcement could come out as early as tomorrow but more likely next week the sources said.
The inaugural committee is tasked with raising money for the inauguration beyond what the government allows. It also pays for balls, parties and events surrounding the event.
In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama placed a $50,000 limit on individual donors and banned contributions from lobbyists, corporations and super PACs. The committee also entertained no sponsorship agreements.
In 2012, President Obama loosened those restrictions and allowed for contributions from corporations but not from lobbyists or super PACs
The law allows unlimited contributions from corporations and U.S. permanent residents.
Romney and Trump to Meet This Weekend
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will meet with President-elect Donald Trump this weekend, NBC News confirms.
Romney delivered a blistering takedown of Trump in a speech in March, calling the then-candidate “a phony” and “a fraud.” Trump has called Romney a loser and said he “choked like a dog” during his 2012 bid against President Obama.
A source close to Trump with direct knowledge of the president-elect's thinking confirms the meeting is to discuss the position of Secretary of State.
Trump endorsed Romney during his campaign four years ago. The former Massachusetts governor began to repair the relationship last week by calling to congratulate Trump on his surprise win.
Obama 'Cautiously Optimistic' About Trump Presidency
President Obama on Thursday said he is “cautiously optimistic” about Donald Trump’s presidency once the reality of his immense responsibilities sets in.
“There's something about the solemn responsibilities of that office, the extraordinary demands that are placed on the United States, not just by its own people, but by people around the world that forces you to focus,” Obama said during a press conference in Germany on Thursday.
“If you're not serious about the job, then you probably won't be there very long because it will expose problems,” Obama added.
The president added that he “wouldn’t advise” those opposed to Trump to be silent or stop protesting, but said the election should be an important reminder about the importance of voting.
Joe Biden Welcomes Mike Pence to VP Residence
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Visits Trump Tower
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Trump Tower on Wednesday for what he described as a “candid and substantive dialogue” with President-elect Donald Trump.
“I let him know that so many New Yorkers were fearful, and that more has to be done to show that this country can heal and that people be respected,” de Blasio told reporters following the meeting.
The Democratic mayor, who supported Hillary Clinton, said he and Trump discussed topics like immigration, Wall Street reform, taxes and the Republican’s rhetoric. De Blasio also said he expressed concerns over Trump’s decision to appoint former Breitbart News head Steve Bannon to a top White House post.
“The balls in his court, people in this city and all over the country are looking to see what he’s going to do,” de Blasio said.
Sens. Schumer and McConnell Elected Senate Leaders
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was easily elected by his caucus to lead Senate Democrats for the next two years and Republicans unanimously re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to serve as Majority Leader.
Schumer, who is set to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid, will spearhead the party's messaging and policy priorities in the first two years of a Donald Trump administration.
Read more here.
Martin O'Malley Withdraws From DNC Race
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley pulled himself out of contention to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee Wednesday, days after he said he was considering a bid.
"While I'm grateful to the supportive friends who have urged me to consider running for DNC Chair, I will not be seeking our Party's Chairmanship. The DNC needs a Chair who can do the job fully and with total impartiality. The national interest must come first," O'Malley said in an email to supporters.
Read more here.
McCain Warns Against Russian Reset
Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday warned against any attempt to reboot U.S.-Russia relations under Donald Trump’s presidency.
“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” the Arizona senator said in a statement.
Russia on Tuesday launched a major military offensive in Syria where Putin is backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Throughout the campaign, Trump spoke highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would improve relations between the two countries. Putin and Trump spoke after his victory last week.
“The Obama Administration’s last attempt at resetting relations with Russia culminated in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and military intervention in the Middle East,” McCain said. “At the very least, the price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people.”
Trump, Pence Expected To Receive Daily Briefing Tuesday
President-elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence are expected to receive their first President’s Daily Briefing on Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York, sources tell NBC News.
President Barack Obama has authorized that the same briefing given to him each day be prepared for Trump and Pence. It contains more sensitive information than the briefings provided to the candidates during the presidential campaign.
Trump has designated retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and son-in-law Jared Kushner as his staff level companions for such briefings, however, Kushner does not have any clearance.
Conway Defends Bannon's White House Appointment
Kellyanne Conway, who successfully navigated the final months of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, dismissed criticism of former Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon’s appointment as "chief strategist and senior counselor” to the new administration.
“I work very closely with Steve Bannon, he's been the general of this campaign, and frankly, people should look at the full resume,” Conway told reporters Monday. “He's got a Harvard business degree, he's a naval officer, he has success in entertainment, I don't know if you're aware of that, and he certainly was a Goldman Sachs managing partner. Brilliant tactician.”
Bannon’s former news site has been closely associated with the “alt-right” movement, which has been criticized for promoting white nationalism.
“I know that people weren't prepared for us to win, and so they're reaching around to find extreme examples,” she added.
Some Republicans leaders have struggled to defend Bannon's past work.
“I do not know Steve. I do not know what he has said,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Monday.
Brexit's Farage Meets Trump, Wants Churchill Bust in Oval Office
Nigel Farage, a key figure in the Brexit movement, met with President-elect Donald Trump Saturday —and said he raised the issue of returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.
While protesters chanted outside, the two met inside Trump Tower and spoke for more than an hour.
“It was a great honor to spend time with Donald Trump,” Farage wrote on Twitter. “He was relaxed and full of good ideas. I'm confident he will be a good president.”
He also wrote that Trump’s support for the U.S.-UK relationship was “very strong,” adding — in an echo of former PM Margaret Thatcher’s famous comment about Ronald Reagan — “this is a man with whom we can do business."
Farage also write that he was “especially pleased” at Trump’s “very positive reaction to the idea that Sir Winston Churchill's bust should be put back in the Oval Office.”
President Barack Obama said he removed the bust of Britain's wartime PM because, as the first black president, he thought it necessary to include a bust of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office and feared the potential clutter. He moved the Churchill bust to just outside the office.
The issue of the bust was raised last year British foreign secretary Boris Johnson after Obama appeared to urge British voters to reject Brexit.