The Rundown for June 24, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has reached 2,347,022 and the nation’s death toll stands at 121,228, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections and that he expects there will be a vaccine ready by early next year. Cases have been growing by at least 5 percent in 26 states and hospitalizations have been increasing as well.

PRIMARY VOTING… Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appears to have held off former longtime CNBC correspondent and anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera in yesterday’s Democratic primary election for New York’s 14th Congressional District. Voting went more smoothly than anticipated in Kentucky after the state dramatically reduced the number of polling places from 3,700 to fewer than 200, due to massive shortages of poll workers. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath was leading state representative Charles Booker by just over 8 points in a race to determine which Democrat will face off against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. With 54 percent of precincts reporting, McGrath carried 45 percent of the vote to Booker’s 36.5 percent. In North Carolina, 24-year-old first-time political candidate Madison Cawthorn defeated President Trump-endorsed Lynda Bennett in the state’s GOP congressional primary. Joe Biden won yesterday’s presidential primaries in New York and Kentucky, raising his delegate haul to more than 2,300 after topping the 1,991 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination earlier this month. Biden’s rival, Bernie Sanders, suspended his campaign on April 8 but remains on the ballot.

CHINESE BOUGHT ACCESS TO TRUMP AND GOP… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that people connected to the Chinese government used political donations to gain influence with President Trump and the Republican Party as early as 2017. The donations reportedly totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars and were directed at Trump’s re-election campaign. In return, the Chinese donors were provided seats at Republican fundraisers and in GOP leadership meetings. The Chinese nationals gathered intelligence that it then shared with Chinese national-security figures, according to the report. The Journal noted that there is no evidence that Trump was aware of the Chinese contributions, which were a violation of federal law.

LOUISVILLE COP FIRED… The Louisville Metro Police Department has fired one of the officers involved in the March fatal shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Police Chief Robert Schroeder wrote in a dismissal letter to Detective Brett Hankison. Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was killed on March 13, when officers entered her home looking for illegal drugs. Officials claimed the officers knocked on the door and announced themselves, and only started shooting after they were “immediately met by gunfire” from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. But Taylor’s family said in a lawsuit that the officers did not identify themselves, and that Walker — a licensed gun owner — thought someone was trying to break in. Chief Schroeder found that Hankison violated two standard operating procedures: obedience to rules and regulations and use of deadly force.

WALMART WON’T DISPLAY MISSISSIPPI FLAG… Walmart announced yesterday it will no longer display the Mississippi state flag at stores throughout the state. The flag is the last of any state’s to display the Confederate emblem in a state that has the highest percentage of African-American residents in the country. Walmart has already removed all Confederate items for sale online and in-store. The Mississippi flag flies at state buildings, the state capitol building and municipal buildings across the state.

… Pornography icon Ron Jeremy, whose legal name is Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, was charged yesterday with three counts of forcible rape and one count each of forcible oral copulation and sexual battery. The 67-year-old Jeremy is accused of sexually assaulting four women in West Hollywood since 2014, according to prosecutors. Jeremy faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged. His arraignment was initially scheduled for yesterday afternoon, but was continued to Friday. Jeremy remains in jail with bail set at $6.6 million.

COSBY APPEAL ACCEPTED… The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has accepted Bill Cosby’s appeal of his 2018 conviction on charges of drugging and raping a woman at his Pennsylvania home in January 2004. The court limited its review to two key issues from Cosby’s appeal, in which he objected to the conduct of his two trials. The 82-year-old Cosby is serving a three-to-10 year sentence in a state prison.

… Major League Baseball owners and players union yesterday agreed to terms on safety and testing protocols, paving the way for a 60-game season that is scheduled to start on July 24. As part of the modified season, each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games against each of the five clubs in the corresponding division. Most teams are expected to conduct preseason training in their home cities. Two new rules have been instituted for the 2020 season to promote player health and safety: The designated hitter will be used in both leagues and extra innings will begin with a runner on second base.

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