CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,739,879 and the nation’s death toll stands at 128,740, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Florida reported a daily-high record yesterday and there have also been surges in Texas, Arizona and California. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday issued an executive order mandating that all Texans wear face masks if they live in a county with more than 20 cases. He also deputized local governments and courts the authority to impose restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people.
DEMS CRITICIZE TRUMP AFTER RUSSIA-BOUNTY BRIEFING… CIA Director Gina Haspel led a group of intelligence officials in briefing House and Senate leaders on emerging reports that Russia has been paying Taliban militants bounties for dead American soldiers. Afterward, Democrats in the “Gang of Eight” criticized President Trump for not acting on the intelligence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement declaring that any threats against U.S. troops “must be pursued relentlessly” and criticized Trump for “being soft” on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
GHISLAINE MAXWELL ARRESTED… FBI agents yesterday arrested British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on charges she helped lure at least three girls as young as 14 to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. She is also charged with perjury relating to alleged lies told in her deposition. The 58-year-old Maxwell has faced multiple, years-old accusations that she helped Epstein scout young girls for abuse. Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where she was living on a wooded estate she purchased for $1 million last December.
GEOFFREY BERMAN TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE PANEL… Geoffrey Berman, who was forced out of his job as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday. Berman will discuss his removal, which came suddenly under suspicious circumstances. He had led the prosecutions of several President Trump associates before being ousted by Attorney General William Barr.
SUPREME COURT DENIES CURBSIDE VOTING IN ALABAMA… The Supreme Court voted 5-4 yesterday to block a lower court order allowing local officials to offer curbside voting in the July 14 runoff and loosen absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s largest counties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three counties are where plaintiffs in the lawsuit live. Groups that filed suit to make voting more accessible vowed to get the voting rules changed by the general election in November.
HUGH DOWNS DIES… Hugh Downs, who became one of television’s most familiar faces during a seven-decade career in broadcast news, died yesterday of natural causes. He was 99. Downs co-anchored NBC’s “Today” show from 1962 to 1971 and co-hosted the ABC evening newsmagazine “20/20” until his official retirement in 1999. He continued doing voice-over duties for a number of documentary films and specials through the 2000s.
CONAN MOVES SHOW TO COMEDY CLUB… Conan O’Brien is moving his late-night talk show to the Los Angeles comedy club where he got his start doing improv in 1987. O’Brien will start broadcasting from the Largo at the Coronet starting on Monday after filming from his home using an iPhone since march. He will continue to interview celebrity guests through Zoom and no audience will be present.
REDSKINS PRESSURED TO CHANGE NAME… The Washington Redskins are facing increasing pressure to change their name. Yesterday, FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium the team plays in, formally requested that the franchise adopt a new nickname. Later in the day, Nike.com removed all official team gear from the site. Team owner Dan Snyder has adamantly opposed changing the team’s name, despite it being considered an offensive racial slur toward the Native Americans.