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House race in limbo after North Carolina voter fraud claims

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North Carolina’s board of elections on Friday declined to certify Republican Mark Harris’ apparent victory in a U.S. House of Representatives race, calling instead for a public hearing to investigate claims of voter fraud and irregularities.

Harris edged Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the Nov. 6 congressional election. But the validity of hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots from a rural county has been called into question, the elections board said on Twitter.

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The board voted 7-2 to hold a hearing due “to claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee mail ballots,” Joshua Malcolm, vice chairman of the board of elections, said in a recorded session on Friday.

It is the second time in as many years the board has considered voter fraud accusations in Bladen County, with charges after the 2016 elections ultimately dismissed.

In a statement, Harris said there were not enough ballots in question to affect the outcome of the race. He urged the board to immediately certify him the victor, while continuing to conduct their investigation.

The contest will not affect the balance of power in the new Congress that sits in January. Democrats already gained enough seats to take control of the House, while Republicans will still hold a Senate majority.

Harris was on Capitol Hill on Friday participating in freshman orientation. He participated in the office lottery and selected a space in the House office buildings.

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The North Carolina board is expected to look into accusations that people came to the doors of Bladen County voters ahead of the Nov. 6 vote and asked them to hand over ballots, sometimes unsealed and uncompleted. Filling out a ballot for another person, or destroying it, is illegal.

Investigators are also expected to scrutinize unusually high numbers of absentee ballots cast in Bladen County in both the general election and the May 8 primary, in which Harris defeated Republican incumbent congressman Robert Pittenger.

The hearing will be held by Dec. 21.

The North Carolina Democratic Party said there was enough evidence of fraud to cast doubt on the fairness of the election.

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The party has said it has affidavits from two voters who said their absentee ballots were collected by a woman who told them she would finish filling them out herself.

“We applaud the board’s bipartisan decision to delay certification and fully investigate the concerning allegations,” said the party’s state chairman Wayne Goodwin in a statement.

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‘Not appropriate at all’: GOP senator admits it was wrong to gas protesters for Trump’s photo-op

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The decision to gas protesters so President Donald Trump could hold a photo-op holding a Bible were criticized by a Republican senator on Friday as cracks start to emerge in Republicans' support for the president.

"As you know, outside the White House when protesters were peacefully exercising their rights, there were rubber bullets and tear gas, they were disbursed so he could go for the pictures, the photo-op at the church," CNN's Erin Burnett reported.

She noted criticism by former General Mattis and asked Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) if he agreed.

"I would say no question the scene that I understand occurred there with the tear gas and rubber bullets was unnecessary, not appropriate at all," he replied.

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GOP Senate candidate complains schools are teaching too much ‘multiculturalism’

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On Friday, the Huffington Post reported that Corky Messner, a GOP businessman running for Senate in New Hampshire, complained that schools are teaching kids too much "multiculturalism" at a virtual town hall.

“We are essentially up against multiculturalism and the values that we know that are being taught in our public schools and universities that are not part of the values and beliefs that made this country great,” said Messner at the event, which took place on Wednesday and was flagged by Democratic super PAC American Bridge. “So we have a battle on our hands.”

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‘A coward and a commander’: New Lincoln Project ad contrasts Trump with James Mattis

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On Friday, the conservative anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project released a new attack ad against President Donald Trump — this time using the criticism of his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and comparing and contrasting their leadership ability.

"This is the story of a coward and a commander," said the ad's narrator. "The coward Trump dodged the draft. Jim Mattis led American troops for forty years. While a frightened Trump hides from protesters in a deep bunker firing off tweets, Jim Mattis does what he's always done: Leads. While Donald Trump angrily attacks, General Mattis' words deserve to be heard by every American."

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