NC OATH KEEPERS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN CAPITOL ATTACK: “I can promise you that no North Carolina Oath Keepers were involved with what happened at the Capitol building that day," Doug Smith told the Columbus County News this month. "North Carolina Oath Keepers were in Washington to hear President Trump after he put out the invitation to his supporters." The news site describes Smith as a Whiteville resident who leads the state group now formerly known as the N.C. Oath Keepers. Smith told the site that his contingent went to Washington by bus and headed home by 4 p.m. “The men of North Carolina believe that the National leadership (of Oath Keepers) could have stopped this and did nothing," Smith said of the Capitol riot. "The men and myself included can no longer be affiliated with Oath Keepers after this sad event in our nation’s history." According to the FBI, the Oath Keepers are a paramilitary organization that targets military and law enforcement veterans for membership.
NEVER-TRUMPERS PUT UP BILLBOARD IN MADISON CAWTHORN'S DISTRICT CALLING FOR HIM TO RESIGN: New billboards paid for by a Republican group have gone up in North Carolina calling on two Republicans to resign from the U.S. House in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The Republican Accountability Project, created by anti-Donald Trump Republicans, purchased the billboards in opposition to U.S. Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Dan Bishop. It is part of a $1 million national campaign against a dozen or so congressional Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, according to the group. “You lied about the election. The Capitol was attacked. Cawthorn: Resign,” the billboards read in Cawthorn’s district. There are three billboards in Cawthorn’s district, in zip codes around Asheville. There are also three billboards in Bishop’s district, including two on US 74 near Interstate 485 and another in Monroe. The ads in Bishop’s district will remain up until Feb. 25. They are part of the nearly 100 billboard ads purchased by the group.
MCCRAE DOWLESS PLEADS NOT GUILTY FOR DEFRAUDING SOCIAL SECURITY: A political operative accused by North Carolina authorities of orchestrating an absentee ballot fraud operation in a 2018 congressional election pleaded not guilty Friday to separate federal charges. Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. of Bladenboro has been indicted on four counts of hiding from the Social Security Administration more than $100,000 in income for work performed for candidates during the 2018 election. Hiding the income allowed him to receive additional Social Security benefits to which he was not entitled. The plea comes nearly 10 months after a federal grand jury issued the charges. Friday's arraignment before U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle in Raleigh had been delayed several times, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plea sets the stage for a jury trial, but Judge Boyle did not immediately offer a trial date. Dowless declined to comment after the brief hearing.
PENNSYLVANIA WOMAN ARRESTED SAID SHE WAS LOOKING FOR PELOSI TO "SHOOT HER IN THE FRIGGIN' BRAIN": Federal authorities arrested two women in Pennsylvania on Friday on charges related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol building after the FBI said one of the women expressed an intent to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Dawn Bancroft and Diana Santos-Smith were identified by law enforcement after the FBI said it received a tip on Jan. 12 with a video purportedly capturing the two women as they left the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 amid a large mob of people, according to a criminal complaint. “We broke into the Capitol. . . . We got inside, we did our part,” Bancroft said in the video she sent to her children, according to the FBI. “We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin’ brain, but we didn’t find her.” News of their arrest and alleged threats come amid heightened security for U.S. lawmakers. Capitol Police asked members of Congress to report travel plans, while the agency beefed up protection for traveling lawmakers in major airports in the region, as well as Washington’s Union Station, The Post reported Friday. Pelosi said on Thursday that part of the threat is an “enemy” within the chamber, referencing colleagues who “want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.” Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri, said Friday she requested to move her Capitol office away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, claiming the Georgia Republican “berated” her in the hallway without a mask.
BIDEN STEADFAST ON $1.9 TRILLION PANDEMIC RELIEF PACKAGE AS REPUBLICANS DITHER: President Biden and his top economic aides brushed aside criticism from Republicans on Friday about the administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package and vowed to forge ahead with the proposal, saying the bill was critical for a flagging economic recovery and overwhelmingly popular with voters. The comments came as Mr. Biden was briefed by aides on the need for more fiscal help and the state of the economy, and as new analysis from the Brookings Institution suggested the Biden proposal, if enacted, would vault the economy above its prepandemic path by the second half of this year. A team of top economic officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, met with Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office on Friday to underscore the challenges facing an economy that recorded decelerating growth at the end of last year. They were joined by Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, and Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey of the Council of Economic Advisers. Democrats in Congress say they are continuing to work with Republicans on a potentially bipartisan bill, but they are also preparing a parliamentary maneuver known as budget reconciliation that would allow them to pass a bill with a simple majority, as Republicans did with their 2017 tax cut law and their failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I’m not going to let Republican senators stall for the sole purpose of stalling,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said on a conference call on Thursday hosted by the advocacy group Invest for America. Despite the White House pressure, Republicans have complained in recent days that using the reconciliation process would undermine Mr. Biden’s calls for unity.