The Rundown for May 21, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,551,668 and the death toll stands at 93,431, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. All 50 states now have taken some steps to reopen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a 60-page document offering guidance for reopening schools, mass transit and nonessential businesses. The plan outlines a “three-phased approach” for reducing social distancing and proposes the use of six “gating” indicators to assess when to move through another phase.

SUPREME COURT BLOCKS MUELLER MATERIAL FROM HOUSE… The Supreme Court yesterday temporarily blocked a lower court order requiring the Justice Department to turn over to the House grand jury material gathered by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in their probe of President Trump’s Russia dealings. The stay requires the Justice Department to file a formal appeal by June 1. The House Judiciary Committee has sought the documents for more than a year. The lower courts said that grand jury records in the past have been turned over to Congress as part of impeachment investigations. The Trump administration argues that the case presents “serious separation of powers concerns” and should be examined by the High Court.

APPEALS COURT HALTS TEXAS MAIL VOTE… A court ruling that allowed Texas to expand its mail-in voting amid the coronavirus was put on hold yesterday by a U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The three-judge panel sided with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in stopping the expansion from taking effect while it’s under review. The action reverts Texas’ qualifications limiting absentee ballots to voters who are 65 years or older. Texans under 65 can only qualify for a mail-in ballot if they cite a disability or illness, if they’ll be out of the county during the election period, or are confined in jail.

MICHIGAN FLOODING… Rising floodwaters unleashed by two dam failures left parts of the central Michigan town of Midland under five feet of water yesterday and forced the evacuation of about 10,000 residents. Days of heavy rain caused the Tittabawassee River to overflow its banks and breach the Edenville and Sanford dams on Tuesday. Dow Chemical reports that floodwater has mingled with chemical pools at its Midland plant, prompting fears of contamination. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the destruction in Midland County “devastating” and asked for federal assistance.

MICHAEL COHEN TO BE RELEASED… President Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled for release from prison to home confinement today. The 53-year-old Cohen, who is serving a three-year sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance fraud, was originally due to be freed in November 2021. Fears of the coronavirus prompted his early release. Cohen admitted lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow and committing campaign finance violations for making hush money payments to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Cohen also pled guilty to tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to Trump.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR DIES IN ATTEMPTED MURDER-SUICIDE
… Actor Hagen Mills, who’s best known for his appearance in the 2016 FX pilot “Baskets,” died in an attempted murder-suicide on Tuesday night in Mayfield, Kentucky, authorities confirmed yesterday. Police found his body after responding to the report of gunfire at a home. Investigators say Mills held his 4-year-old daughter and her grandmother hostage and then opened fire on the baby’s mother upon her arrival. After shooting the mother several times, Mills reportedly turned the gun on himself. The mother survived her wounds and is listed in stable condition at a hospital. The child and grandmother were not harmed. Among his other acting roles, Mills played Buck Barrow in the 2013 television movie “Bonnie & Clyde: Justified.”

LITTLE RICHARD LAID TO REST… Little Richard was laid to rest at a private service in in Huntsville, Alabama, yesterday. The pioneering Rock ‘N Roller was 87 when he died from bone cancer on May 9. Born Richard Penniman, he sold more than 30 million records worldwide and is best remembered for the hit songs ”Tutti Frutti, “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

SPORTS
NCAA LIFTS ACTIVITY BAN FOR THREE SPORTS… The NCAA Council yesterday voted to lift its moratorium on athletic-related activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball. The vote allows for voluntary athletic activities for the threes ports to run through June. The moratorium was set to expire on May 31.

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