TPM News

A man interrupted a quiet Sunday afternoon at northwest Washington, D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong by allegedly entering the popular pizza restaurant with an AR-15 assault rifle and firing off one or more shots.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, reportedly told police he had come to “self-investigate” Pizzagate, a bizarre election-related conspiracy theory that holds that Hillary Clinton is the leader of a child sex trafficking ring run from the restaurant’s basement. No one was injured, but Welch was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, according to the Washington Post.

The disturbing incident speaks to the real-life dangers of fake news. In the weeks since the “Pizzagate” conspiracy first burbled up on social media, the restaurant’s staff received a steady stream of harassment and even death threats. Welch’s Sunday arrest actually added fire to the fabricated story, pushing some allies of President-elect Donald Trump to allege that he was a “plant” sent in to discredit the websites that pushed the conspiracy.

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Still trailing nearly a month after Election Day in his drawn-out bid for re-election, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) over the weekend asked the State Bureau of Investigations to launch a criminal probe into GOP claims of "voting irregularities" that are at the center of McCrory's effort to close the vote gap with his Democratic challenger.

McCrory's request for a criminal investigation by the state – which came in a statement issued by the governor's office – came after the Republican-led state elections board rejected on Saturday a protest from Republicans alleging that absentee ballots in Bladen County were improperly filled out.

The complaint, which was filed by Republicans and promoted by the McCrory campaign, is one of several allegations of voter fraud claimed by McCrory as he has refused to concede in the governor's race, even though he is currently trailing Democratic state Attorney General Roy Cooper by more than 10,000 votes.

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Senate Democrats are prepared to throw a wrench in the process to approve President-elect Trump's cabinet nominees, Politico is reporting.

With Senate Democrats concerned that many of Trump's picks may be inexperienced and that others have controversial records – and with the memory of Republicans' blockade of Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland still very fresh – their approach will be to slow things way down.

While Politico points out that many of President Barack Obama's cabinet picks were approved on his first day in office, Democrats are likely to force a drawn-out process through parliamentary maneuvering, something that could take far longer in the Senate and interrupt Republicans' ability to jump start their agenda in January. Democrats cannot keep Trump's nominees out of office. After a rules change, Trump's nominees only need 51 votes to be approved now. However, Democrats can bring the process to a crawl.

“There should be recorded votes, in my view, on every one of the president’s Cabinet nominees,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told Politico. “Having all of these hearings before the inaugural in a thorough and fair fashion seems very difficult to do.”

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