News Roundup

The Los Angeles Times reported late Wednesday night that federal law enforcement agents seized North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s cellphone while serving a search warrant at Burr’s Washington, D.C., residence.  The LA Times report also says that agents served a warrant on Apple in recent days to obtain information from Burr’s iCloud account.  The search warrants come as an investigation intensifies into whether Burr profited off of nonpublic information about the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic by selling significant investment holdings prior to the downturn in the stock market.  On Thursday morning, Burr announced that he would step down as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Keep reading for more news.

Flynn Developments.  Last week the News Roundup noted that the U.S. Justice Department had moved to dismiss criminal charges it brought against former national security advisor Michael Flynn as part of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  This week the federal judge presiding over the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, made the unusual move of appointing retired federal judge John Gleeson to present arguments in opposition to the DOJ’s motion to dismiss.  A New York Times article discussing Gleeson’s appointment says that at this point his role is “slightly ill-defined” and details of his post are unclear.

Church.  The Johnston County Report noted this week that Sheriff Steve Bizzell has announced that his office would not interfere with church gatherings having attendance that exceeds the ten person limit currently applicable to indoor gatherings.  In a statement, Bizzell said that he would “lay down his badge and go home” before he would “interfere or prevent church goers to peaceably assemble and exercise their constitutional right to freely worship.”  Sheriffs in other counties around the state, including Craven County and Yancey County, made similar announcements.

Additionally, as WRAL reports, people gathered in downtown Raleigh yesterday to protest the current application of the governor’s stay-at-home order to religious services and highlight the filing of a federal civil suit alleging that the order is unconstitutional.

Evictions.  The Greensboro News & Record reports that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office said this week that it would resume serving eviction notices on May 29.  Back in March, the agency put a moratorium on evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Sheriff Danny Rogers said that he considered the distribution of stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and the governor’s recent move to begin gradually reopening businesses when deciding to end the moratorium.

Manafort.  This week Paul Manafort became the latest notable federal offender to be released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement due to coronavirus concerns.  The Associated Press reports that Manafort was released on Wednesday from a low security prison in Pennsylvania.  He had been incarcerated since 2018 and is serving a roughly seven-year sentence.

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