CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has reached 2,163,290 and the nation’s death toll stands at 117,717, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. 10 states have reported record seven-day high averages of new cases since the pandemic began. The states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas. Despite the uptick in the number of cases and hospitalizations in his state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday announced he was barring cities from implementing any rules that would require face coverings.
BOLTON BOOK EXCERPTS… Multiple media outlets that obtained advanced copies of former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book,”The Room Where It Happened,” reported that it contains some damaging details about the Trump White House. Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, said at last June’s G20 Summit in Osaka, Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 re-election by purchasing more U.S. farm products. Among other claims, Bolton says Trump tried to halt criminal investigations to help “dictators he liked” and there were multiple instances when Trump sought to intervene in law enforcement matters for political reasons. Bolton also noted that Trump was apparently not aware that Britain is a nuclear power and didn’t know that Finland is not part of Russia. Bolton says he reported cases of Trump’s potential abuses of power to Attorney General Bill Barr. Last night, the Justice Department stepped up its effort to block publication of the book by filing an emergency request. The new filing came in the same civil lawsuit the Justice Department filed the day before seeking to recoup whatever earnings Bolton made from the book. A second tell-all book about Trump by his niece, Dr. Mary Trump, is scheduled for release next week. The president is reportedly looking into suing his niece, who was the source behind a New York Times Pulitzer-winning exposé on Trump’s tax schemes.
ATLANTA COPS CHARGED… Prosecutors have filed 11 charges, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Garrett Rolfe, the white Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a Black man twice in the back last week during a foot pursuit outside a Wendy’s restaurant. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said yesterday that Brooks was not a deadly threat and that the officer kicked the wounded black man and offered no medical treatment for over two minutes as he lay dying on the ground. At the time of the shooting, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was holding a taser he had snatched from officers but held no darts and he was beyond its effective range anyway, Howard said. A second Atlanta police officer, Devin Brosnan, is facing three charges, including aggravated assault and violation of oath, for his role in the deadly encounter. Both officers have been fired and have until 6 p.m. today to surrender themselves.
AUNT JEMIMA, UNCLE BEN’S TO CHANGE BRANDS… Weeks of civil unrest has prompted the makers of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice to rebrand the products. Quaker Oats said it will replace the image of an old Black woman in its Aunt Jemima’s line because it was “based on a racial stereotype.” Mars, which owns Uncle Ben’s, said it would find a replacement for the 70-year-old image of an old man on the label, which was rooted in slavery and servitude. Quaker also announced a pledge of $400 million toward initiatives to oppose racial injustice.
NEW YORK MAKES JUNETEENTH A HOLIDAY… New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. The governor also vowed to propose legislation next year making June 19 a permanent state holiday. The legislature is already considering a bill that honors the day in 1865 when news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas, who became among the last to be freed by a proclamation that had taken effect on January 1, 1863. Texas was the first state to make it a state holiday in 1980. On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday there.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS VOTER LEGISLATION… Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation yesterday to expand the state’s vote by mail availability and make election day a state holiday. The legislation also extends early voting hours at permanent polling places and improves the signature verification process. Voters who submit their application for a VBM ballot by October 1 will receive their VBM ballot by October 6.
DANNY MASTERSON ARRESTED ON RAPE CHARGES… Actor Danny Masterson, best known as the star of “That ’70s Show,” was arrested in Los Angeles yesterday and charged with the forcible rape three women in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003. Masterson posted bond at L.A. County Jail and is scheduled for arraignment in September. He faces 45 years to life in prison if convicted.
D’ELIA FACING ONLINE SOLICITATION ACCUSATIONS… Multiple women have stepped forward on Twitter yesterday with claims that comedian and actor Chris D’Elia sexually harassed them when they were underage. The women accused D’Elia of grooming them and soliciting them for nude photos or sexual encounters. One Twitter user posted screenshots of DM conversations she said she had with D’Elia when she was 16 years old in 2014. D’Elia responded to the accusations by denying any wrongdoing and promising “to do better.”
MLB OWNERS PROPOSE 60-GAME SEASON… Negotiations between major league baseball owners and the players union appear to have taken a significant step toward the resumption of a 2020 season. ESPN reported that the owners yesterday submitted to the union a proposal that calls for a 60-game season at full prorated pay. The season would reportedly begin July 19 and include an expanded playoff format.