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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators will take another look at a provision within a bill on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk that keeps certain police investigative records secret when they are forwarded to the state medical examiner, a top Republican said Tuesday.

A broad health measure approved last week by the House and Senate includes language sought by the Department of Health and Human Services.

It would clarify that death investigation records held by local or state law enforcement and deemed confidential under state public records law would retain that same confidentiality when they are handed to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner Michelle Aurelius has said current law has made law enforcement more hesitant to share records that her office needs to determine a case of death. But public records and prisoner advocates contend the language could make investigations into unnatural or unexpected deaths, like those occurring in police custody or at a jail, less transparent, a coalition of media outlets reported.

House Majority Leader John Bell, a Wayne County Republican, said the language was included in the bill because it was requested by DHHS, one of Cooper's Cabinet-level agencies. The language, initially introduced in another measure filed in April 2019, has received renewed attention because it was approved late at night and as calls for police reform have intensified following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“After further conversations and discussions about its unintended consequences, I am confident this will be revisited and corrected once the legislature reconvenes,” Bell said in a news release. The Senate also would have to agree to act. The legislature is expected to return briefly next week, then go home until September.

Cooper hasn’t commented publicly on the bill, which he can sign into law or veto. It will also become law if he doesn’t act by next Monday.

Opposition to the records provision became a rallying cry for dozens of people demonstrating outside the Executive Mansion in the early hours Tuesday, multiple news outlets reported. They want Cooper to veto the measure, saying the language would hurt the Black Lives Matter movement.

By late morning, a dozen protesters remained on the sidewalk across the street from the Mansion. Raleigh police confirmed through Twitter that four of the protesters were arrested on Tuesday afternoon for spray painting in the middle of the street. The demonstration ended soon afterward.

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Pelosi Calls on Law to Limit Presidential Pardon Power

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said when President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his ally Roger Stone, it was "appalling."

Now she wants a law passed to prevent the president from using his constitutional powers in the future to pardon anyone who is politically connected to him.

"For the president to be able to issue a pardon on the basis of a crime that the person committed assisting the president is ridiculous, and there ought to be a law," Pelosi told CNN host Anderson Cooper, according to the Washington Examiner. "And Im recommending that we pass a law that presidents cannot issue a pardon if the crime that the person is in jail for is one that is caused by protecting the president, which this was.

"Its appalling."

Article II of the Constitution gives the president the power to pardon. 

"He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment," the Constitution reads.

But Trump did not pardon Stone, which would have erased his criminal record. He simply commuted his three-year sentence, leaving the conviction on his record.

"Roger Stones seven felony crimes, which include lying to Congress and witness tampering, constitute grave crimes," Pelosi said in a statement. "This decision and Trumps many other acts of corruption point to the urgency of electing a president in November who will respect the Constitution, the rule of law, and the will of the American people."

Stone was ordered to report to prison next Tuesday. He made an emergency appeal to extend his surrender data due to the coronavirus threat in prison but an appeals court rejected that request Friday.

Stone "would be put at serious medical risk" if sent to prison, according to a White House statement.

Related Stories:

  • Trump Commutes Prison Sentence of Ally Roger Stone
  • WH Press Office Statement on Commutation of Stone Sentence

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