The Rundown for September 30, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 7,186,527 and the nation’s death toll stands at 205,895, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… The New York Times reported yesterday that the Trump administration applied immense pressure to force the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to produce more evidence that supported President Trump’s efforts to send kids and teachers back to school in person before the election. Olivia Troye, a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff who left her job last month, claims that she was repeatedly asked to instruct the CDC to write more reports that showed a decline in virus cases among young people… Thousands of K-5 and K-8 students in New York City returned to classrooms yesterday for the first time since schools were closed earlier this year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed he won’t hesitate to close them again if cases surge… Disney announced yesterday that it was laying off 28,000 of its theme-park employees in California and Florida due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE… President Trump engaged with Democratic nominee Joe Biden in a chaotic first debate in Cleveland last night. Trump spoke at will in responses to moderator Chris Wallace’s questions and while interrupting Biden’s answers. The most fierce exchanges occurred during discussion about Trump’s leadership on the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and taxes. The insults made it tough for either candidate to push through their agenda. Biden called Trump a “clown” and a “racist” and told him: “You’re the worst president America has ever had.” Trump responded: “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.” Earlier yesterday, Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, released their 2019 tax returns. Biden’s returns, posted on his campaign website, show that he and his wife, Jill, made $944,737 in taxable income last year and paid $299,346 in federal income taxes—a 31 percent tax rate. In contrast, Trump paid no federal income taxes for 10 of the past 15 years, and paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017, according to returns obtained by the New York Times. The second of three scheduled debates is scheduled for October 15 in Miami. It will be moderated by C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully.

FLYNN LAWYER BRIEFED TRUMP ON FLYNN CASE… The federal judge overseeing the prosecution of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn indicated yesterday that he isn’t ready to allow the Justice Department to drop the case. U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan questioned Flynn’s lead attorney, Sidney Powell, about her contacts with President Trump and whether she had urged him or Attorney General William Barr to take any actions to influence the decision to abandon the case. Powell initially cited potential executive privilege concerns in refusing to answer, but then revealed that she briefed Trump on the case within the last two weeks and requested that he not issue a pardon. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to FBI agents in January 2017 about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. The Justice Department informed Sullivan in May that it wanted to end the prosecution after Attorney General William Barr decided that Flynn’s false statements to the FBI were not material to any open investigation and were therefore not a violation of the law.

KENTUCKY AG TO RELEASE BREONNA TAYLOR GRAND JURY RECORDING… Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced yesterday that he will comply with a judge’s order and release a recording of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case today. Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the release on Monday following a legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror. Cameron said the recording will show that prosecutors presented a “thorough and complete case to the grand jury.” According to the complaint, the grand jury was not given an option of charging Louisville Metro Police Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove in the March 26 fatal shooting of Taylor. Prosecutors presented only possible charges for Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June and charged on Monday with three counts of wanton endangerment.

STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THREE CALIFORNIA COUNTIES… California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared states of emergency in three Northern California counties amid uncontrolled wildfires. The orders were issued in Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties, where the Glass and Zogg fires have consumed tens of thousands of acres. The Glass Fire has prompted the evacuations of nearly 40,000 residents in Napa and Sonoma counties.

ENTERTAINMENT
‘BORAT’ RETURNS
… Amazon Studios has purchased international rights to the sequel of the 2006 film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to star as Kazakstan journalist film, which will premiere late October on Amazon Prime. The film is set for a late October release.

DOLLY PARTON CHRISTMAS… The Dolly Parton Christmas musical “Christmas on the Square” is set for a November 22 release on Netflix. Christine Baranski and Jennifer Lewis also star in the story about a rich woman who returns to her small hometown with the intention of selling land to a mall developer just before Christmas. Parton also released the song, “Christmas on the Square” from her holiday album “A Holly Dolly Christmas,” which will be released on Friday.

SPORTS
MLB PLAYOFFS

AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD-CARD GAME 1 SCORES

Houston 4 – MINNESOTA 1
… Michael Brantley’s two-run single capped a three-run top of the ninth inning that carried the Astros past the Twins. Reliever Framber Valezz pitched two-hit ball over five scoreless innings. Houston hasn’t announced its starter in today’s Game 2. Minnesota sends righthander Jose Berrios (5-4) to the mound.

Chi. White Sox 4 – OAKLAND 1… Jose Abreu homered with a runner aboard, Adam Engel and Yasmani Grandal added solo homers and the White Sox cruised past the Athletics. Chicago starter Lucas Giolito surrendered a run on two hits over seven innings. Lefthander Dallas Keuchel (6-2) gets the start for Chicago today. Righthander Chris Bassitt (5-2) to the mound.

TAMPA BAY 3 – Toronto 1… Blake Snell took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Rays held off the Blue Jays. Manuel Margo belted a two-run homer. Righthander Tyler Glasnow (5-1) takes the mound for Tampa Bay today. He’ll be opposed by Toronto lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-2).

N.Y. Yankees 12 – CLEVELAND 3… Aaron Judge, Greyber Torres and Brett Gardner hit two-run homers as the Yankees walloped the Indians. Torres also singled home a run and was 3-for-3 on the day. New York will send Carlos Carrasco (3-4) to the mound, where he’ll be opposed by Masahiro Tanaka (3-3).

TODAY’S NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD-CARD OPENERS
Cincinnati (Trevor Bauer, 5-4) is at Atlanta (Max Fried, 4-0)…
the Chi. Cubs (Kyle Hendricks, 3-3) host Miami (Sandy Alcantara, 1-0)…
St. Louis (Kwang-Hyun Kim, 1-0) is at San Diego (Dinelson Lamet, 3-1)…
the L.A. Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 1-0) host Milwaukee (Josh Lindblom, 2-4)

NBA FINALS OPEN TONIGHT… The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers take the court in Orlando tonight in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals. Both teams have gone 12-3 in the postseason. After entering the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed, the Heat eliminated Indiana, Milwaukee and Boston. The Lakers, who were the Western Conference’s top seed, dispatched of Portland, Houston and Denver. Miami is led by the trio of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. L.A. relies on the tandem of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

TENNESSEE TITANS SUSPEND ACTIVITIES… The Tennessee Titans have suspended all in-person club activities after three Tennessee Titans players and five personnel members tested positive for COVID-19. The team’s facilities will be closed until Saturday. ESPN reported that the Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, also have positive tests. It’s not known whether the Titans will play Sunday’s scheduled game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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