CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 3,117,946 and the nation’s death toll stands at 133,290, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. Several states continue to set record highs for daily increases in new cases. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have accounted for nearly half of all new cases in the U.S. in recent days. The recent surge has overwhelmed hospitals and slowed testing.
SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST TRUMP IN TWO DECISIONS… The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that presidents are not immune from state criminal proceedings while in office and that President Trump is not “categorically immune” from having his financial records released to a New York grand jury. However, High Court justices ruled in a second case that a lower court needs to consider separation of power issues related to Congressional subpoenas of President Trump’s tax returns, thereby making it appear unlikely that Trump’s financial records will be released before the November election. The vote was 7-2 in both cases. Both of Trump’s SCOTUS appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, ruled against him in each.
SECTION OF EASTERN OKLAHOMA IS NOW INDIAN LAND… A large swath of eastern Oklahoma will now be considered the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation following a Supreme Court ruling yesterday. The decision was based on Congress’ failure to formally undo the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s 19th century reservation. As a result of the ruling, state prosecutors have no authority to pursue cases against American Indians on that land. It could also overturn hundreds of past convictions and impact other tribes.
FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR TESTIFIES… The recently-ousted federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York testified before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors yesterday. Geoffrey Berman, whose office has investigated people close to President Trump, testified that Attorney General William Barr pressured him to step down last month so that Barr could replace him with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton. Berman said Barr offered him positions at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division or even at the SEC.
DEFENSE CHIEF CONFIRMS RUSSIAN-BOUNTY BRIEFINGS… Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed yesterday that he had been briefed on intelligence reports that Russia was paying Taliban militants up to $100,000 for every American they killed. The confirmation conflicts with President Trump’s claim that the reports were a “hoax.” Esper did say that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were killed as a result of the “bounty” payments.
JUDGE IN MICHAEL FLYNN’S CASE SEEKS REVIEW… The judge in Michael Flynn’s criminal case has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to drop Michael Flynn case. Judge Emmet Sullivan seeks a review of the appeals court that would involve all active judges on the court rehearing the case. Trump has criticized the case against Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty and admitted lying to FBI agents about his discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before Trump was inaugurated. Flynn withdrew his plea and appealed his case.
CALIFORNIA SUES OVER STUDENT VISA RESTRICTIONS… California officials yesterday announced their intent to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its sudden policy change that intends to return international students to their home countries if their schools in the U.S. switched to online courses due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra came a day after Harvard and MIT sued in federal court to stop the new policy. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had announced in March that student visa holders in the U.S. would be allowed to remain in the country if they’re forced to attend virtual classes.
MICHAEL COHEN BACK IN CUSTODY… President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was returned to federal prison yesterday for allegedly violating his home confinement agreement. Law enforcement officials said Cohen refused to sign documents prohibiting him from interacting with the media or writing a book. In May, pandemic concerns prompted Cohen’s release from federal prison to serve the rest of his three-year sentence from home. He was convicted for his role in making hush-money payments to women who said they’d had affairs with Trump.
NAYA RIVERA BELIEVED DEAD… Efforts to find actress Naya Rivera in a Southern California lake are now a recovery operation and not a rescue mission, Ventura County sheriff’s officials said yesterday. Authorities are resuming that the 33-year-old Rivera is dead. She rented a boat with her 4-year-old son on Wednesday afternoon and hasn’t been seen since. She was reported missing after the boy was found alone on the boat.
JOY REID GETS WEEKDAY MSNBC SHOW… MSNBC announced yesterday that it is giving political analyst Joy Reid her own weekday show in the 7 p.m. EDT time slot. “The ReidOut,” based out of Washington, D.C., is set to premiere on July 20 and will feature political discussions and one-on-one conversations with politicians. Its timeslot was previously filled by “Hardball” until show host Chris Matthews suddenly retired in March. Reid’s current weekend morning show, “AM Joy” will continue with a rotating lineup of hosts until MSNBC names a permanent replacement in the fall.
COLLEGE CONFERENCES PLANNING FOR FALL… The Big Ten Conference announced yesterday that it plans to adopt a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The conference is the first to make such a move. Officials from the SEC say they are continuing to meet with campus leaders “to determine the best path forward” for fall sports. Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby says he’s following advice to “move ahead slowly” and plan “for all available scenarios.” The Atlantic Coast Conference plans to delay all fall sports until at least Sept. 1. On Wednesday, the Ivy League declared a shutdown of fall sports.