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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says the chamber could take the “extraordinary step” of calling for a new election in a North Carolina congressional district if the winner is unclear amid allegations of voter fraud.

Pelosi said Thursday the House “retains the right to decide who is seated.”

She said “any member-elect can object to the seating and the swearing-in of another member elect.”

Officials in North Carolina are investigating voter fraud allegations. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by about 900 votes, but results are not certified.

Pelosi is nominated to become House speaker when Democrats take control in January. The House Administration committee has “full investigative authority to determine the winner,” she said.

It’s “bigger than that one seat,” she said, but about the “integrity of elections.”

A spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan, AshLee Strong, told NBC News: “There is an ongoing investigation by state officials, and the speaker believes that is appropriate.”

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It’s not a national emergency for Trump, it’s a political one

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — Let’s be honest: The emergency that President Trump faces at the border isn’t a real national emergency — it’s a perceived political one.

And that’s why, after Congress passed a deal on Thursday that includes just $1.375 billion for fencing and barriers, the president is set to declare a national emergency and take executive action to secure the money to build his desired border wall, opening a Pandora’s Box and guaranteeing months and years of lawsuits over his action.

Trump delivers remarks at the White House on this at 10:00 am ET.

As we’ve written before, crime in America’s border cities is low (and has been low for years); apprehensions of undocumented immigrants also are on the decline; and most illegal drugs at the border cross at ports of entry – not in areas where there’s a wall or fence.

So why is Trump doing this? Because he just suffered his most significant legislative defeat since the health-care fights of 2017, as he’s set to sign a spending deal that contains the SAME amount of money he was offered before the border battle began two months ago: $1.3 billion. And because he feels like his base won’t forgive him if he retreats on his wall.

But it also might be a political emergency that ONLY HE SEES. As NBC’s Benjy Sarlin tweets, it’s not like his base was abandoning him after he caved on the shutdown last month.

“The funniest part about this move is there was no sign of any apparent issue with his voters from caving on the wall. Quite the opposite, his approval was shooting up in Gallup as soon as the shutdown ended.”

One other thing to watch: How do congressional Republicans — especially the true-blue constitutionalists like Rand Paul – react to this? They were pretty outspoken in urging Trump not to make this move.

Then again, as the president has transformed the GOP, we’ve seen Republican lawmaker after Republican lawmaker usually buckle to Trump’s demands.

Overall, this move by Trump is a big deal. As NBC’s Kristen Welker observed on “Today,” the president is trading one crisis (over a shutdown) for another crisis (over the Constitution and the separation of powers).

Bernie and Klobuchar vs. the other Dem 2020ers on the border deal

Now this is interesting: Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., voted yesterday for the border-spending bill that easily passed the Senate, while the other Dem 2020ers voted against it – Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

But in the House, the Dems running or thinking about 2020 – Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., voted for it.

And speaking of 2020ers and walls, here’s what Beto O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last night: He’d take down the border fencing in El Paso that was constructed in 2008-2009.

“His comment came in response to a question posed on Twitter by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. ‘If you could snap your fingers and make El Paso’s border wall disappear, would you?’ Crenshaw said in his post that fencing and other border barriers have caused illegal crossings to drop significantly.”

“But O’Rourke told Hayes the barriers don’t bring Americans greater security. ‘Here’s what we know: after the Secure Fence Act, we have built 600 miles of wall and fencing on a 2,000 mile border,’ O’Rourke said. ‘What that has done is not in any demonstrable way made us safer.’”

Amazon pulling out of New York City highlights divide inside the Democratic Party

Amazon’s decision on Thursday to nix its HQ2 plan for Queens, New York shows how the Democratic Party in New York City – exemplified by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y. – has moved to the left. And that shift will make future Democratic primaries fascinating to watch.

What we’re seeing inside the Democratic Party is a divide between the rising socialist wing of the party (like AOC) and the business/tech/capitalist wing that still believes businesses are important in creating jobs.

But it’s also striking where we did NOT see this divide: Virginia, whose Democratic politicians eagerly accepted the new HQ2 in Crystal City.

This week’s overlooked political stories

Border deal! National emergency! Trump vs. Beto in El Paso! Those were the big political stories this week, and they overshadowed these other ones that would have received much more attention in previous political eras:

  1. Trump’s FEMA chief resigned. (FEMA director is a mighty important job…)
  2. “Whistleblower” sought protection after sounding alarm on Jared Kushner getting his security clearance.
  3. Senate passed sweeping land conservation bill.

On the 2020 trail

Per NBC’s Kyle Stewart: Today, Kamala Harris is in South Carolina… Kirsten Gillibrand hits New Hampshire… Steve Bullock is in Iowa… Bill Weld does “Politics & Eggs” in New Hampshire… And Beto O’Rourke goes to Wisconsin.

On Saturday, Elizabeth Warren and Harris campaign in South Carolina… Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Gillibrand are in New Hampshire… Amy Klobuchar, Eric Swalwell and Bullock stump in Iowa.

And on Sunday, Booker visits New Hampshire… Warren is in Las Vegas… And Swalwell and John Delaney are in Iowa.



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Trump plans to veto any Hill interference with emergency border declaration, say aides

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By Jonathan Allen and Dartunorro Clark

WASHINGTON — A Trump aide told White House surrogates Friday morning that President Donald Trump would “absolutely veto” any congressional efforts to interfere with his plan to declare a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall, according to a person on the call.

The call with supporters came shortly before the president’s planned announcement of the move Friday morning.

The officials, who included senior aide Stephen Miller and OMB deputy director Russ Vought — who said the president would veto any Hill efforts to block the plan — told surrogates the decision to focus the new wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas was part of an effort to deny California standing to sue. Areas along the southern border with “vehicle barrier” will also see immediate construction, the officials said.

Officials argued that it’s faster to build on land already owned by the government, but that eminent domain will be used aggressively.

The officials confirmed that the president plans to announce $8 billion for a border wall using the emergency declaration. That figure includes $1.375 billion in the spending bill for fencing in Texas; $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction program; and $3.5 billion from a military construction budget under an emergency declaration by the president.

Trump is expected to formally announce the move at 10 a.m. in the Rose Garden.

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Back pay for federal contractors missing from government funding bill

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By Dareh Gregorian

Congress passed a deal to avoid another government funding lapse Thursday night, but the bill — which President Donald Trump is expected to sign — doesn’t offer any relief for the hundreds of thousands of government contractors who were forced to go without pay during the 35-day shutdown.

“These were all collateral damage, innocent victims,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told MSNBC of the contractors, adding that they were “part of a fight that never made sense from the start.”

The exact number of contract workers who were affected is unclear. It’s been estimated that 1.2 million people — from highly paid engineers working with NASA to low-paid cafeteria workers — were affected, though some were able to work on other jobs.

Among those who weren’t paid during the longest shutdown in U.S. history and now aren’t getting back pay are 2,000 workers for SourceAmerica, which places employees with a wide range of disabilities through a nationwide nonprofit network.

“We’re very disappointed there wasn’t a provision for contractors. Our ask all along is they be treated with the same respect as the folks they work alongside every day,” John Kelly, vice president of government affairs and public policy at SourceAmerica, told NBC News.

“For many individuals with disabilities, having a job is one of the most important aspects of their life,” Kelly added.

One of those affected was Fred Pickett, who has worked as a mail clerk at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., for more than 27 years.

“I still haven’t gotten my back pay,” Pickett, 63, said. “I just think it’s unfair. We should be getting the same treatment as the other workers.”

He is relieved to be back at work again. “I was bored being at home, plus I missed my co-workers and supervisors,” he said.

While Trump and some Republicans have said they’re opposed to shelling out back pay for contractors — something that was not done in prior shutdowns either — Kelly said there are “still multiple bills that are active” in Congress, and “we’ll continue to work with those sponsors.”

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