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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    The White House campaign of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) teetered on the edge of being abandoned in coming days, as the candidate on Saturday publicly confirmed the existence of an internal memo which bluntly said that unless Booker could get a surge of donations in the next ten days, his 2020 campaign was doomed. 'I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory,' Booker wrote on Twitter Saturday morning, 'but I can’t walk it alone.' Booker's comments came soon after NBC News had reported that the campaign's top aide told the candidate and staff that a major infusion of money was needed to keep Booker's campaign going. 'This isn’t an end-of-quarter stunt or one of those memos from a campaign trying to spin the press,' said Addisu Demissie. Booker's predicament in the Democratic race is much like a large number of other candidates right now - they are mired in low single digits in most polls, and have shown no ability to break out of that group to challenge the leaders in the race. For example, in the latest national poll from Fox News on the Democratic race, Booker is a 3 percent - that's where he was in August, June, and May. Others who have shown little to no ability to jump up in recent polls would include Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Michael Bennet. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was also in that group - he officially quit the race on Friday. Others stuck in the polls have been Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke - and even Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris - who while they are above most of those in the race, the two have been unable to make up ground on the Democratic Party leaders. Harris encountered rough waters in the last week as repeated stories reported that her campaign was going to focus much more on Iowa - a decision which is often a signal of broader difficulty for a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders seem locked in to the top three spots in the Democratic race, with little evidence that any of the other Democrats were going to be able to pull them down at this point. And for Booker - it's been a bridge too far. “Now or Never,” his campaign chief wrote.
  • Led by California, almost two dozen states filed a federal lawsuit on Friday to stop the Trump Administration from revoking a waiver which has allowed California and other states to set tougher auto emission standards than required by the federal government. “California won’t bend to the President’s reckless and politically motivated attacks on our clean car waiver,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has clashed with the President on a variety of policy fronts.  'The Administration insists on attacking the authority of California and other states to tackle air pollution and protect public health,' added California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. But under federal law, California had the right to ask for a waiver to permit tighter emission controls on new cars - and the state had been doing so for nearly 50 years.  A number of others states had joined in accepting those same requirements. The Trump Administration argues there should only be a single national standard for emissions and gas mileage. The change by the feds 'will insure there is one - and only one - set of national fuel economy standards, as Congress mandated and intended,' said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday. The lawsuit can be seen here.
  • While saying he does not know the identity of a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community who lodged a complaint about unknown actions involving the President and another world leader, President Donald Trump on Friday blasted the unidentified accuser, labeling the episode a 'political hack job.' Asked if he had discussed the ability of the government of Ukraine to start an investigation related to Democratic Party front runner Joe Biden and his family, the President brushed off the query, as he ridiculed the press corps in the Oval Office. 'It doesn't matter what I discussed,' as he called the media a 'joke,' and the 'laughing stock of the world.' The comments came in the wake of reports in recent days that the Trump Administration was preventing the Congress from finding out details behind a whistle blower complaint. The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community had judged the issue to be of 'urgent concern,' but instead of following established federal law - which requires notifying Congress - the Justice Department and the acting Director of National Intelligence had refused to pass on the material. The President argued that it was all politics. 'I just hear that it's a partisan person,' Mr. Trump said, who was asked specifically if he had requested the help of the government in Ukraine to investigate someone who might be his opponents in 2020. 'This is all impeachable,' said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). 'Not a close call. We need more facts, but we would be derelict in our duties not to pursue the facts wherever they lead,' he added. 'Everybody's read it,' President Trump said of the whistle blower's complaint, without confirming any details. 'They laugh at it.' 'It doesn't matter what I discussed,' the President said of his conversation with another world leader - presumably of Ukraine. 'But I will say this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement,' as Mr. Trump all but confirmed his desire for a foreign country to help investigate the Democratic Party leader for 2020. On Capitol Hill, top Democrats said the President was clearly not following the law. “The President and Acting DNI’s stonewalling must end immediately, and the whistleblower must be provided with every protection guaranteed by the law to defend the integrity of our government and ensure accountability and trust,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • Unable to make any substantive impact on the 2020 race for President, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that he was giving up his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for the White House, saying it was obviously not his moment. In a series of appearances on news programs from New York, the mayor of America's biggest city acknowledged that he was never able to break out of a group of candidates consistently mired at the bottom of the polls, and far behind Democratic leaders. “It’s true: I’m ending my candidacy for president,” de Blasio said.  “But our fight on behalf of working people is far from over.” “I feel like I've contributed all I can to this primary election and it's clearly not my time,” the Mayor said. DeBlasio's two Democratic Party debates left little in the way of memorable moments for him. In the second debate in Detroit, de Blasio tried a unique tactical move on stage, using his time to direct questions at front runner Joe Biden, in an effort to confront the race leader. But the effort did little to change the dynamic of the race, where de Blasio and other candidates were unable to qualify for future debates, and had become asterisks in the 2020 race. The news gave President Trump a target which he could not resist. The latest national poll on the Democratic field, from Fox News, showed de Blasio far back in the pack - along with a number of other Democrats.
  • In the first hearing by Congress in a quarter century on the subject, leaders from the nation's capital urged a House committee on Thursday to make the District of Columbia into the nation's 51st state, as Democrats said the current political setup for the over 700,000 residents of the nation's capital wrongly denies them proper voting representation in the Congress. 'I'm not here to talk about one person, but about 702,000 Americans who deserve full representation in this House,' said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 'What's more we pay more federal taxes per capita than any state,' the Mayor added. 'And we pay more federal taxes - total - than 22 states.' It was the first time since 1993 that Congress held hearings on the idea of making Washington, D.C. into the 51st state - it's something routinely backed by Democrats, but receives folded arms and furrowed brows from many in the GOP. Supporters of the idea point to numbers which show the District has more people - over 700,000 - than the states of Vermont and Wyoming, and about 20,000 less than Alaska. While some calls for D.C. statehood have been bipartisan in the past, that was not the case on Thursday, as the reaction of GOP lawmakers at the hearing on D.C. statehood was basically one of furrowed eyebrows. 'I think our Founders wisely gave us a Federal City,' said Rep. Jodi Hice (R-GA), who joined other Republicans in saying the only way a change could be made is by a Constitutional Amendment. 'At the end of the day, we are dealing with a Constitutional issue,' Hice said at the hearing. Republicans not only harped on what they said was a requirement for a Constitutional amendment, but they also cited political corruption in the city as a reason to not consider the idea. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) went back to 1995, when the D.C. budget was running large amounts of red ink, and Congress had to step in to create a special financial board. 'The federal government had to take control of the D.C. budget,' Jordan said - though a top city financial official said since then, the District has had 24 straight years of balanced budgets. Jordan also raised the name for former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, rattling off the names of other politicians who were caught up in corruption investigations. 'We cannot ignore these facts,' Jordan added. It's not clear if Democrats will try to bring a D.C. Statehood bill to the House floor in the 116th Congress.  Even if it could get through the House, it would be unlikely to make the agenda in the GOP Senate.
  • Democrats in Congress demanded more information from the Director of National Intelligence on Thursday about an 'urgent' whistle blower complaint from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community, which the Trump Administration has refused to detail for key lawmakers, while the President said he had done nothing wrong. 'Another Fake News story out there,' President Donald Trump tweeted from the White House. 'It never ends!' In a series of tweets, the President ridiculed the idea that he would say something inappropriate, or give away confidential intelligence information to another world leader. 'I would only do what is right anyway,' as the President finished with a familiar tweet. 'Presidential Harassment!' he wrote. But in a letter from the Inspector General of the U.S. Intelligence Community, internal watchdog Michael Atkinson told lawmakers that an action - defined under law as an 'urgent concern' - had been brought to his attention by an unnamed person, but was never forwarded to the Congress as required by law. In his letter, which was released by the House Intelligence Committee, Atkinson gave no details about the allegation, or any hints of who was involved - but made clear, he had decided to alert the House and Senate Intelligence Committees because of the serious nature of the information involved. 'I determined that the Complainant's disclosure met the definition of an urgent concern,' Atkinson wrote, describing it as a 'serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of the law or Executive order' - involving classified information. In a second letter released by the House Intelligence Committee, Atkinson said he was at an 'impasse' with the Acting DNI over action on the whistle blower complaint. “The Director of National Intelligence has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he emerged from an over four hour closed door briefing with the internal watchdog of the Intelligence Community. Schiff shared no details with reporters - indicating that lawmakers themselves still don't know anything about the alleged incident, which the Washington Post reported on Thursday may have involved a phone call between the President and another world leader. Schiff has already set a public hearing for next Thursday with the Acting Director of National Intelligence on the matter. “I believe that there is an effort to prevent this information getting to Congress,” Schiff told reporters, as he was pressed on what was at issue. “At one level or another, it likely involves the President or people around him,” Schiff said.
  • After the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that it was cutting interest rates for the second time in two months, President Donald Trump skewered the Fed for not being aggressive enough to help the economy, while the Fed chair said too much economic uncertainty was being created by President Trump's various trade fights. 'This is a time of difficult judgments,' Fed chair Jerome Powell told reporters at a Washington news conference, as he indicated that trade gyrations involving the US, China, and other nations, is not helping with domestic economic growth. 'We do feel that trade uncertainty is having an effect,' Powell told reporters. 'We see it in weak business investment, weak exports.' 'Trade policy is not the business of the Fed,' Powell said. 'It's the business of the Congress and of the Administration.' While the President has said further rate cuts would spur even more growth, the Fed continues to forecast that overall economic growth will be just over two percent this year, down from 2018. Democrats in Congress pointed the finger of blame straight at President Trump for creating economic uncertainty, especially for farmers. “Our family farmers need stability right now - not more uncertainty,” said Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN).  “I don’t agree with the reckless trade war we’ve created without a coherent strategy.” Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers were at odds over how to deal with President Trump's second bailout for farmers, who have been hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from China and other nations. In a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), raised questions as to where the money was going to come from for the $28 billion in farm bailout payments announced by the President over the last two years. 'For context, that amount is larger than the entire discretionary budget Congress appropriates to USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) each fiscal year,' DeLauro wrote. While Democrats had initially threatened to block approval of that extra money, now party leaders were demanding to know where that bailout money was going. 'That lack of transparency regarding a $28 billion federal program is outrageous,' DeLauro wrote. 'Maybe an accounting of who is getting the money up to this point would be a start,' said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as Democrats said the GOP was resisting efforts for a public accounting of the farm bailout billions.
  • In the face of strong opposition from California elected officials and parts of the auto industry, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that his administration will revoke a special waiver which has allowed California to set stricter auto emission and fuel mileage standards than the federal government. 'The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER,' President Trump announced in a series of tweets from California. The announcement drew immediate condemnation from California officials and Democrats in the Congress. 'The President is completely wrong,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). California officials expressed outrage at the President's plans, arguing the main impact would be to create more pollution in the Golden State. 'You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,' California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. 'We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend; we’ll see you in court if you stand in our way,' Becerra added. The authority for California comes from the federal Clean Air Act, which allowed the feds to grant waivers to states that wanted to set tougher emission standards than the federal government. The announcement opens a second legal fight with the Golden State over auto emission standards, as last week the Trump Administration said it would investigate agreements made between California and major automakers about those standards. 'This investigation appears to be nothing more than a politically motivated act of intimidation,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in a letter to the U.S. Attorney General.
  • A week after ousting top aide John Bolton, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday on Twitter that he was naming Robert O'Brien to replace Bolton, choosing the State Department's top hostage negotiator to fill that important White House post. 'I have worked long and hard with Robert,' the President tweeted from California, where he is currently on a western campaign swing. 'Robert O'Brien is a great choice to be National Security Advisor,' said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who labeled the choice an 'exceptional pick.'  'He is a high energy, low ego individual who will do fantastic in this role,' the Congressman added. O'Brien's most recent high profile diplomatic effort was in Sweden, where he headlined U.S. efforts to free rapper A$AP. O'Brien's official title at the State Department was, 'Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.' O'Brien will be the fourth National Security Adviser for President Trump, going through former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Michael Flynn, Army General H.R. McMaster, and then Bolton. Last week, Mr. Trump said Bolton had disagreed with him on a number of major foreign policy issues.
  • In a spirited hearing full of sharp exchanges and pointed verbal barbs, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski confirmed to a U.S. House committee that President Donald Trump had used a White House meeting in 2017 to ask Lewandowski to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 'I didn't think the President asked me to do anything illegal,' Lewandowski told the House Judiciary Committee. In the first testimony to Congress by a fact witness involved in the Russia investigation, Lewandowski acknowledged that despite President Trump's request - made at least twice in the summer of 2017 - the Trump adviser admitted that he never followed through on the President's request to pressure Sessions about the Russia probe. Democrats mocked Lewandowski for not having the guts to take the President's message directly to the Attorney General. 'You chickened out,' said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). 'I went on vacation,' Lewandowski replied, drawing loud laughter from Democrats on the committee. In his multiple hours of testimony, Lewandowski repeatedly refused to delve into details of his conversations with the President, even those which were a part of the Mueller Report, which Lewandowski proudly said he had not read. 'If it's in the report, I consider it to be accurate,' Lewandowski said multiple times. While Republicans denounced the hearing as a 'joke' and more, Democrats zeroed in on Lewandowski in round after round of questioning, accusing him of obstructing justice by not answering certain questions about his talks with the President during the campaign. 'I wasn't asked to do anything illegal,' as Lewandowski said he took notes in a June 2017 meeting on what Mr. Trump wanted to be said to Attorney General Sessions, and then placed the notes in a safe at his home. 'It's a big safe Congressman,' Lewandowski said in a bitter exchange with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), whom he called “President” at one point - apparently referring to Swalwell's failed White House run.  'There's lots of guns in it,” Lewandowski added about his safe. Asked multiple times if he had turned over his notes to the Special Counsel investigation, Lewandowski would only say that he had complied with all requests from the Mueller probe. Lewandowski also did not directly respond to the basic question of whether he lied to the Special Counsel, or whether he had ever discussed a pardon with the President. 'Not to the best of my recollection,' Lewandowski said multiple times. Democrats also ridiculed Lewandowski's refusal to answer certain questions related to the President, by claiming that there was an issue involving executive privilege. The hearing was notable on one point, in that it was the first time Democrats had been able to question someone who was an actual fact witness interviewed as part of the Mueller Investigation. Two other former White House aides - Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn - were blocked from testifying by the Trump White House. Democrats still want testimony not only from those two former aides, but also former White House Counsel Doug McGahn and others. Maybe the most effective questioning of Lewandowski came at the end of the hearing, when Democrats allowed their outside Judiciary Committee counsel Barry Berke to ask Lewandowski questions for a full 30 minutes. Berke repeatedly took Lewandowski through statements he made in television interviews and to the committee, making it clear that the Trump adviser had not necessarily told the truth. “I have no obligation to be honest with the media,” Lewandowski said at one point, as he tried to bait Berke into a verbal sparring match, dropping in references to where Berke went to college and law school. Here's the entire 30 minutes of their exchanges.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Usually the Central Florida International Auto Show starts over Thanksgiving, but this year, they chose to have it in September to make more room on the show floor for more manufacturing companies. This weekend's event at the Orange County Convention Center features more than 400 of the latest brand of cars, trucks, crossovers, you name it- and you can test them out! Good thing is you don't have to feel pressured to buy anything because everything on display is for informative and planning purposes only. You can get in, get a feel for it, read all the stuff like mileage and what not, and eventually, you can decide for yourself if its something you want to invest in. Some of the new models include the 2020 Toyota Supra, the 2020 Lincoln Corsair, and the 2020 Nissan 50th Anniversary Z. They have product specialist there to answer any questions you may have.  There is also plenty of stuff to do for the kids in case they get bored. They can bounce around on a bungee rope, have their picture taken in a Formula 1 type racing car, get their faces painted, or even take a ride as many times as they want at the Camp Jeep test track which features the iconic Jeep Mountain, which is an 18 foot, 35 degree hill climb.  You can check out our exclusive look at the ride so you know what to expect here:   https://www.facebook.com/965Orlando/videos/627153287691443/ The event lasts throughout the weekend with it wrapping up on Sunday from 10 am to 6pm. Admission for adults(13 and over) is $12, $7 for seniors(62 and older), military or first responders( with ID) and students 21 and under, and free for kids under 12 with an accompanying adult.  You can check out our gallery which features some of the newer cars and even some of the classic cars on display here: https://www.news965.com/news/local/check-out-these-cars-the-central-international-auto-show/G5U1EOCfSRM0mpO0AkXrQK/
  • School leaders at Lake Mary High School in Seminole County say that two students have been arrested for reportedly brining weapons on school campus. According to a Seminole County Sheriff's Office incident report, 14 year old Curtis Leonard was called to the discipline office on Thursday for an unrelated incident. When he he opened his backpack, that's when an administrator noticed a gun and notified a deputy. Deputies say the chamber was loaded, but the gun was disassembled.  Leonard now faces a felony charge of possession of a firearm of school property and was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. This is the second incident within the last year where a student managed to sneak a gun onto the campus.  Following this incident, school leaders say another situation happened on Friday where students came forward and accused a 15 year old student of carrying a weapon on school grounds. They say 15 year old Bernard Blackmon was located with a 7 inch fishing knife and was arrested. The arrest report shows Blackmon has also been charged with possession of a weapon on school property.  In response of these incidents, school leaders say that they are testing new technology as part of a pilot program which acts similar to metal detectors, but can be used in more places. They also want to remind students to report any suspicious activities by calling the SpeakOut hotline at 800-423-8477 or use their campus app.
  • A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
  • President Donald Trump called reports that a U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against him last month 'a ridiculous story' while speaking Friday to reporters in the Oval Office. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made an unspecified 'promise' to an unidentified foreign leader that concerned the intelligence official. The official filed a complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper, though lawmakers said Thursday they had yet to see the complaint. The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal the substance of the complaint. Update 7:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on the whistleblower's complaint against President Trump. In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Police are responding to the Woodfield Mall after an SUV drove into a Sears and through the mall walkways. WGN is reporting that the driver is in custody.  So far there have been no reports of injures. Video posted on Twitter shows a black SUV driving past a Forever 21, and people running away.

Washington Insider

  • The White House campaign of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) teetered on the edge of being abandoned in coming days, as the candidate on Saturday publicly confirmed the existence of an internal memo which bluntly said that unless Booker could get a surge of donations in the next ten days, his 2020 campaign was doomed. 'I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory,' Booker wrote on Twitter Saturday morning, 'but I can’t walk it alone.' Booker's comments came soon after NBC News had reported that the campaign's top aide told the candidate and staff that a major infusion of money was needed to keep Booker's campaign going. 'This isn’t an end-of-quarter stunt or one of those memos from a campaign trying to spin the press,' said Addisu Demissie. Booker's predicament in the Democratic race is much like a large number of other candidates right now - they are mired in low single digits in most polls, and have shown no ability to break out of that group to challenge the leaders in the race. For example, in the latest national poll from Fox News on the Democratic race, Booker is a 3 percent - that's where he was in August, June, and May. Others who have shown little to no ability to jump up in recent polls would include Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Michael Bennet. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was also in that group - he officially quit the race on Friday. Others stuck in the polls have been Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke - and even Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris - who while they are above most of those in the race, the two have been unable to make up ground on the Democratic Party leaders. Harris encountered rough waters in the last week as repeated stories reported that her campaign was going to focus much more on Iowa - a decision which is often a signal of broader difficulty for a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders seem locked in to the top three spots in the Democratic race, with little evidence that any of the other Democrats were going to be able to pull them down at this point. And for Booker - it's been a bridge too far. “Now or Never,” his campaign chief wrote.