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North Carolina Republican Mark Harris’ son says warned father about operative’s past

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The son of the Republican candidate in a disputed congressional race in North Carolina said on Wednesday he warned his father to be suspicious of a political operative now accused of running an illegal ballot operation to sway the November 2018 election.

A state probe into the election for the 9th Congressional District has uncovered the fraudulent scheme by a consultant working for the campaign of candidate Mark Harris.

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The probe could lead to a new election to fill the seat, which has remained vacant since state officials refused to certify Harris’ apparent victory over Democratic rival Dan McCready by 905 votes out of 282,717 ballots cast.

The five-member State Board of Elections heard evidence this week that the political consultant, Leslie McCrae Dowless, hired workers to solicit and collect absentee ballots from voters in violation of state law.

Harris’s son, John, told the board on Wednesday he suspected Dowless had run a similar scheme in a 2016 primary election while working for Republican U.S. House candidate Todd Johnson.

John Harris expressed these concerns about Dowless and “his people” in an email to his father, he said. He also told his father that collecting ballots was a felony.

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“The key thing that I am fairly certain they do that is illegal is that they collect the completed absentee ballots and mail them all at once,” he wrote in an email to his father on April 7, 2017, a day after Mark Harris met with Dowless.

John Harris gave the board a copy of his email, which was then distributed at the public hearing.

Harris said he did not believe his father or anyone in his family was aware that Dowless had engaged in any illegal ballot collecting behavior on behalf of his father.

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Dowless served six months in jail after he was convicted of felony fraud in 1992, court records show. Media have reported that it was insurance fraud.

Andy Yates, founder and partner of consultancy Red Dome Group and Harris’ top strategist, earlier this week testified that he did not know of Dowless’ past criminal record when Red Dome hired him in 2017.

Yates said Dowless hired workers to collect absentee ballot requests, among other duties pertaining to the 2018 election, but that he never paid Dowless to collect actual ballots.

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Dowless’ lawyer has said he did nothing wrong.

State Republicans have pushed for the board to certify Harris as the district’s representative. The U.S. House of Representatives would then determine whether to seat him.

McCready’s lawyer, Marc Elias, considered one of the nation’s top election law specialists, said earlier this week the testimony had revealed “massive election fraud” that justified a new election.

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If Democrats pick up the seat, they would widen their 235-197 majority in the House after taking control of the chamber in November.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jeffrey Benkoe and Sonya Hepinstall


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘The wheels are coming off’: MSNBC panel says Trump told his chief of staff to ‘walk the plank’

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Two MSNBC anchors discussed Thursday's whirlwind day of breaking news in scandals involving President Donald Trump.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" joined Brian Williams on "The 11th Hour" to discuss Trump holding the G7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course and the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confessing that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- before attempting to walk back his confession.

"Did things change today, do you think?" Williams asked.

"I do feel like the wheels are coming off," Maddow said.

"For the Energy Secretary [Rick Perry] to resign, you've had two cabinet secretaries resign during the impeachment proceedings already, one of whom, the current one resigning tonight, the Energy Secretary, does appear to be involved in the scheme, at least on a couple of different levels. We have got the White House Chief of Staff who was sent out today, not only to make the, 'Yes, it was quid pro quo. Yes, we did it. What are you going to make of it?' article -- which was bracing, but then to take it back, simultaneously announcing this self-dealing, which is something more blatant than we’ve ever seen from any president in U.S. history," she explained.

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Rick Wilson rips Trump for holding G7 meeting at his ‘South Florida House of Bed Bugs Hotel’

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Republican strategist Rick Willson blasted President Donald Trump after the administration announced that the G7 meeting of world leaders would be held at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course.

Chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced the severely under-performing resort would receive the lucrative contract during a contentious White House briefing.

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2020 Election

Trump impersonated a CNN anchor — and a US president — during epic meltdown at Texas speech

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President Donald Trump offered multiple impersonations during a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump showed the crowd his impersonation of a president of the United States -- and a CNN anchor.

"No guns. No religion. No oil. No natural gas," Trump said. "Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances. Couldn’t do it."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas when he ran for president as the state refused to print any ballots with his name.

He then showed the audience two impersonations as part of his 87-minute speech.

"I used it to say, I can be more presidential. Look," Trump said, as he shuffled awkwardly on stage.

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