CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,634,432 and the nation’s death toll stands at 127,410, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared yesterday at a Senate hearing and warned that the U.S. could see as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily “if things don’t turn around.” Fauci encouraged governors to follow the CDC’s reopening guidelines and urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing. As a result of the nation’s inability to manage the pandemic, the European Union left the U.S. off its list of nations whose residents will be allowed to come and go for leisure or business travel beginning today. Finally, Nebraska Republican Governor Pete Ricketts yesterday threatened to withhold $100 million of federal funding allocated to counties in his state if they mandate residents wear a face mask to protect against the coronavirus.
PRIMARIES… Amy McGrath yesterday was declared the winner of last Tuesday’s Senate Democratic primary in Kentucky. The former Marine fighter pilot held off state representative Charles Booker, whose campaign came on strong at the end. McGrath will challenge Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in November’s election. Meanwhile, three states held primaries yesterday… In Colorado, former two-term governor John Hickenlooper defeated former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic senate primary and will face incumbent Republican senator Cory Gardner in the fall. Also in Colorado, five-term U.S. Republican Congressman Scott Tipton was ousted by primary challenger Lauren Boebert in the race for the state’s third congressional district seat… In Utah, former NFL player Burgess Owens defeated bested state representative Kim Coleman to win the Republican nomination for the state’s 4th Congressional District. Owens will face Democrat Ben McAdams in November’s election… In Oklahoma, state senator Stephanie Bice and businesswoman Terry Neese will face off against each other on August 25 to determine the GOP candidate for the 5th Congressional District. The winner will take on Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn for the seat in November. Horn easily defeated primary challenger Tom Guild yesterday.
RUSSIAN BOUNTIES FOR AMERICANS… The New York Times reported yesterday that large financial transfers between a Russian intelligence agency and a bank account linked to the Taliban were evidence of an alleged scheme in which Russia offered bounties to militants to kill U.S. soldiers. The newspaper cited three unnamed officials who said that intercepted electronic data supported the information Taliban detainees had provided U.S. intelligence officials during interrogations. The information also was included in President Trump’s written daily intelligence briefing in February, contradicting his denial on Sunday that he was briefed about the alleged scheme.
FOREIGN ELECTION HELP… Senate Republicans have removed from the National Defense Authorization Act language that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help. The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia Senator Mark Warner said Republicans forced the removal of the election-reporting provision as a condition to include the intelligence bill on the must-pass defense policy legislation. Earlier this month, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 8-7 to approve an amendment from Warner and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine that required campaigns to notify federal authorities about any foreign offers.
JUDGE SIDES WITH CHALLENGE TO ASYLUM-RESTRICTIONS RULE… A federal court last night upheld a challenge to the Trump administration’s asylum restrictions. Asylum seekers had argued that the “Third-Country Asylum Rule,” which was jointly published by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, wrongly violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. The challenge specified a 2019 rule that requires seekers to ask for asylum closer to home. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, agreed that the administration did not abide by the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which requires that Americans have enough time and opportunity to weigh in on such rule changes.
CARL REINER DIES… Legendary Hollywood actor, writer, producer and director Carl Reiner died at his Beverly Hills home Monday night of natural causes, family members announced yesterday. He was 98. Reiner’s career spanned more than 400 film and television appearances over seven decades. He rose to fame in the 1950s in Sid Caesar’s “Show of Shows” and went on to create “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the 1960s. Reiner continued working into his 80s and 90s with roles in the films “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Toy Story 4,” along with the television sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”
‘OZARK’ RETURNS TO NETFLIX… Netflix confirmed yesterday that it is bringing back the crime drama series “Ozark” for a fourth and final season. Season 4 will be split into two parts consisting of seven episodes each. The series stars Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner in the story about a family that relocates to the Ozarks after the father’s money laundering scheme goes wrong. “Ozark” has received 14 Emmy nominations since its premiere in 2017.
NBA COMMISSIONER TALKS SEASON… NBA commissioner Adam Silver said yesterday that he remains “pretty confident” about the NBA’s plan to safely resume play but admits that a coronavirus spread in the NBA community could stop play again. During an appearance on TIME 100 Talks, Silver said league officials haven’t defined what constitutes a significant spread but will continue working with a panel of scientists, doctors and experts. The San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets have closed their practice facilities after members of their organization tested positive.