The Rundown for May 20, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… At least 20,260 new coronavirus cases and 1,574 Covid-19-related deaths were reported in the U.S. yesterday, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There are now at least 1,528,568 cases nationwide and the death toll stands at 91,921. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield issued an order yesterday extending health restrictions on people migrating to the U.S. through Mexico and Canada “until he determines the serious danger from COVID-19 has ceased.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada-U.S. border would be limited to essential workers until June 21. A federal judge yesterday ruled that all Texas voters, regardless of age, qualify for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery agreed with individual Texas voters and the Texas Democratic Party that voters would face irreparable harm if existing age eligibility rules for voting by mail were to remain in place.

TRUMP FRAUD SUIT GREENLIGHTED… A federal judge has given the go-ahead to a lawsuit accusing President Trump, his three eldest children and his company of collaborating with marketing company ACN in promoting a pyramid scheme. Trump attorneys were denied in their request for a stay. Plaintiffs claim President Trump, along with his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, and daughter Ivanka, are guilty of fraud, false advertising, and unfair competition in their dealings with ACN. It claims the Trumps didn’t disclose their relationship with ACN and made millions by telling investors they would have a “reasonable probability of success” if they joined the scheme.

SENATE PANEL APPROVES RATCLIFFE… The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday approved Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe as national intelligence director. The 8-7 was along party lines. Ratcliffe’s nomination advances to a full Senate vote following the 8-7 vote. The 54-year-old Ratcliffe has represented Texas’s 4th District since 2015 and has been a member of the House intelligence committee. He would be the first permanent director of national intelligence since Dan Coats resigned last July.

HOUSE DEMS SEEK MUELLER GRAND JURY EVIDENCE… House Democrats are seeking access to secret grand jury evidence gathered by former special counsel Robert Mueller during the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. A brief they’ve filed with the Supreme Court seeks to determine if President Trump committed an impeachable offense. Mueller said in his report that the investigation found several “episodes” of possible obstruction. House general counsel Douglas Letter says the committee’s investigation into Trump’s activities “is ongoing.”

EVACUATIONS FOLLOW DAM BREAKS IN MICHIGAN… Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Midland County following the breach of two dams last night. Whitmer warned that the city of Midland’s downtown area could be under nine feet of water today. Officials say about 3,500 homes and 10,000 people have so far been evacuated. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

EXECUTION IN MISSOURI… A 64-year-old man convicted of killing an 81-year-old woman in 1991 was executed in Missouri last night. Walter Barton was administered a lethal injection hours after the Supreme Court refused to hear his case. He was convicted in the death of trailer park operator Gladys Kuehler after being tried five times in the killing. The first two trials ended in a mistrial and hung jury. The next two led to convictions but both were overturned. The final trial again led to a conviction and a death sentence.

HELLA MEGA TOUR DELAYED… The North American Hella Mega tour featuring Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy has been delayed until summer 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The three bands announced that they will soon announce summer 2021 dates at the same venues. Green Day was forced to postpone a number of concert dates throughout Asia due to the pandemic. Weezer recently delayed the release of its upcoming album.

‘GREYHOUND’ TO BE STREAMED… The Tom Hanks-fronted World War II drama ”Greyhound” has a new home in Apple TV Plus. The streaming service announced yesterday that it has purchased worldwide rights from Sony Pictures but didn’t disclose a release date. The film is based on C.S. Forester’s novel “The Good Shepherd.” Set in the early days of World War II, it centers on a Navy captain who leads an international convoy of 37 Allied ships in his first command on a U.S. destroyer.

NFL REOPENING FACILITIES… A limited number of NFL teams reopened their training facilities yesterday. The Cowboys, Falcons, Texans, Cardinals, Chiefs and Colts were expected to be among teams returning to their buildings. The Bengals are scheduled to reopen today. The Jaguars have set May 26 for their reopening, while the Broncos are also targeting next week. The Packers, Ravens, Dolphins, Vikings, Titans, Buccaneers, Browns, Panthers, Saints, Eagles and Packers also aren’t affected by government-imposed lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic but haven’t announced when they’ll reopen.

The Rundown for May 19, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… At least 21,551 new coronavirus cases and 785 deaths were reported in the U.S. yesterday, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections in the country has reached 1,508,308 and the death toll stands at 90,347. A judge in Oregon issued an injunction blocking more than 10 executive orders issued by Governor Kate Brown. Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matt Shirtcliff ruled the governor exceeded her authority by limiting activities such as church services and business operations for longer than 28 days. Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom said some counties may be able to move to the second stage of re-opening. Hospitalizations have declined by 8 percent and tens of millions of masks have been distributed statewide, Newsom said.

TRUMP THREATENS PERMANENT END TO WHO FUNDING… President Trump late Monday threatened to permanently withdraw U.S. funding from the World Health Organization if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.” Trump was highly critical of WHO’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a letter he sent to the organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Last month, Trump temporarily halted funding to the organization.

POMPEO DEFENDS INSPECTOR GENERAL’S FIRING… Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday denied knowing that the state department’s inspector general he had fired on Friday was investigating Pompeo over alleged misuse of staff as well as an arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The secretary of state told The Washington Post that he urged the president to remove State Department Inspector General Steve Linick because Linick was “undermining” the state department’s work. President Trump acknowledged firing Linick at Pompeo’s request and admitted not knowing the reason. Linick became the fifth inspector general to be removed by Trump, prompting allegations that he’s trying to evade accountability.

RUBIO TO CHAIR SENATE PANEL… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday selected Florida Senator Marco Rubio to serve as the acting intelligence committee chairman. The selection follows last week’s withdrawal of Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who is facing an FBI investigation into insider trading. Investigators are looking into details surrounding Burr’s sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock after receiving a confidential briefing on coronavirus. On Thursday, agents seized Burr’s cellphone and data from an online cloud account.

PENSACOLA SHOOTER WAS AL QAEDA ASSOCIATE… Federal investigators announced yesterday that the Saudi military trainee who killed three U.S. sailors and wounded several others in a terror attack last year on a military base in Pensacola, Florida, was a longtime associate of al Qaeda who had communicated with operatives from the group as recently as the night before the shooting. The al Qaeda connection was after the FBI broke through the encryption protecting the Saudi attacker’s iPhones. The trainee, Mohammed Alshamrani, was killed by law enforcement during the attack.

‘EDDIE HASKELL’ ACTOR DIES… Former Ken Osmond, who is remembered for playing Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver,” died of undisclosed causes in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 76. Osmond’s six-season run on “Leave It to Beaver” sprang from what was supposed to be a guest appearance in a 1957 episode. Osmond left acting to join the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970 and retired after being shot in 1980.

ACTOR GREGORY TYREE BOYCE FOUND DEAD… Authorities in Las Vegas have confirmed that the bodies of actor Gregory Tyree Boyce and his 27-year-old girlfriend were found in their condominium last week. The 30-year-old Boyce had a memorable role in the 2008 “Twilight” film. According to the Clark County coroner, the cause of death is pending a toxicology report.

GOVERNORS TALKS SPORTS RE-OPENING… The governors of New York, California and Texas made announcements yesterday that brought that professional sports could soon resume in their respective states. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is encouraging major sports teams to prepare for reopening without fans. California Governor Gavin Newsom later said that sports could resume without fans in his state as soon as the “first week or so of June.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said professional sports without fans could resume at the end of May. Governors in Florida and Arizona previously announced that their states were open to the resumption of professional sports.

The Rundown for May 18, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,467,065 and the death toll stands at 88,709, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday morning during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” that plans to reopen businesses, schools and other facilities do not rely entirely on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Azar also told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the Trump administration’s plan to prepare 300 million doses of a vaccine by the end of the year was a goal and “not a pledge.”

FED CHIEF TALKS RECOVERY… Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell conceded in an interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last night that it may take more than a year for the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Powell said the path to economic recovery could begin in early 2021. The Fed chief is expected to repeat his call for increased spending amid the crisis when he appears before Congress tomorrow.

POMPEO INVESTIGATION PRECEDED INSPECTOR GENERAL FIRING… Congressional officials told NBC News yesterday that State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was removed from his job Friday after investigating reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands. The officials said they are working to learn whether Linick had any other ongoing investigations into Pompeo. President Trump announced on Friday that he was firing Linick because he no longer had the “fullest confidence in him.”

AIR FORCES LAUNCHES ROCKETS… The Air Force yesterday successfully launched its Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. The rocket is carrying a X-37B space plane for a secretive mission. It will deploy a satellite into orbit and also test power-beaming technology on its sixth mission in space.

FIRST NAMED STORM TARGETS NORTH CAROLINA… Tropical Storm Arthur was expected to bring heavy rain and minor flooding to North Carolina’s Outer Banks today. National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a tropical storm warning. Arthur became the first named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season when it formed Saturday in waters off Florida. The storm produced top sustained winds of 45 miles per hour as it tracked off the Southeast coast yesterday.

DIRECTOR LYNN SHELTON DIES… Hollywood is mourning the passing of director Lynn Shelton, who died Friday in Los Angeles of a previously undiagnosed blood disorder. She was 54. Shelton was best known for the films “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister” and the series “Little Fires Everywhere.” Her partner, comedian Marc Maron, said Shelton collapsed Friday after having been ill for a week.

ACTOR GENO SILVA DIES… Actor Geno Silva died earlier this month from complications related to dementia. He was 72. Silva had memorable roles in the films “Scarface” and “Mulholland Drive.” His credits include “Amistad,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Man Apart.”

BILLS’ DEFENSIVE TACKLE ARRESTED… Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was arrested on DWI and weapons charges in Montgomery County, Texas. Oliver was pulled over after a witness called 911 to report a vehicle weaving in and out of lanes. Police say he had an open beer between his legs while behind the wheel of a pickup. A pistol was also found in the truck.

The Rundown for May 15, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,384,930 and the death toll stands at 83,947, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC yesterday released six “decision trees” aimed at helping schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, bars and restaurants decide on whether it’s safe to reopen. Six one-page “decision tool” documents use traffic signs and other graphics to tell organizations what they should consider before reopening.

VACCINE EXPERT TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS… Vaccines expert Dr. Rick Bright told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce yesterday that the Trump administration’s hopes of developing a coronavirus vaccine within 18 months are likely too optimistic. Bright, who was removed last month as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, warned that Americans face “the darkest winter in modern history” if proper preparations aren’t taken. He said he was “alarmed” at a lack of plans from federal agencies and the administration and complained that his warnings about supply shortages were ignored multiple times. Bright also noted “There were some attempts to bypass” a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine, which the administration hyped.

SENATE VOTES TO EXTEND FISA… The Senate voted 80-16 yesterday to approve a 2-1/2-year extension of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act following its expiration two months ago. The measure must be approved by the House and it’s not known when a vote would be taken. The Senate version amended House legislation passed in March to improve legal protections for those subject to surveillance.

SENATOR BURR LEAVES SENATE PANEL POST… North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr announced yesterday that he will step down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the end of today’s session amid the investigation into his mass selloff in stock at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. FBI agents seized Burr’s cellphone on Wednesday as they examine Burr’s transactions around the same time the intelligence committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings. Though he told the public the virus would not cause much harm, he warned private audiences that the effects would be disastrous. The sales saved him millions of dollars in potential losses. Meanwhile, Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is reportedly complying with federal law enforcement and financial authorities about the sales of millions of dollars of stock owned by her and her husband at the outset of the outbreak.

MICHIGAN CANCELS SESSION AMID ARMED PROTESTERS… The Michigan state legislature canceled yesterday’s session and closed the Capitol rather than face heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters who showed up to demand the easing of shelter-in-place restrictions. Members of a militia group gathered on the Capitol steps in Lansing instead. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has faced recent death threats over her stay-at-home order, which has been extended until the end of May.

MARY-KATE OLSEN MUST WAIT FOR DIVORCE… A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice yesterday rejected former “Full House” actress Mary-Kate Olsen’s emergency petition for a divorce from her husband of five years. The 33-year-old Olsen filed papers Wednesday claiming that her 50-year-old husband, Pierre Olivier Sarkozy, was trying to evict her from their apartment by Monday. The judge in the case decided that it wasn’t an essential matter.

CHESNEY WON’T TOUR… Kenny Chesney announced yesterday that he will not tour in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country singer says he’s pushing back all dates of his planned “Chillaxification” Tour to 2021. Chesney had planned to play NFL stadiums nationwide this year.

NFL PLAYERS WANTED FOR ARMED ROBBERY… Florida authorities yesterday obtained felony arrest warrants for New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar. Miramar police say multiple witnessed accused the two of committing an armed robbery at a cookout on Wednesday night. According to the warrant, Baker pulled out a handgun after a fight broke out. He, Dunbar and two other men allegedly then robbed people at the party of thousands of dollars in cash, watches and other valuables. The two players face four counts each of armed robbery with a firearm. Baker faces an additional four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. The warrants note the suspects will be denied bond when taken into custody.

The Rundown for May 14, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number or reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,364,061 and the death toll stands at 82,246, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 yesterday to strike down Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order. Evers issued the order in March and last month extended it to May 26. Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block the extension on the grounds that it required legislative approval.

JUDGE ADDS OBSTACLE TO FLYNN CASE… U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has thrown another obstacle into the Justice Department’s effort to drop the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn despite his earlier guilty plea. Judge Sullivan yesterday appointed former mafia prosecutor and retired Eastern District of New York district court judge John Gleeson to present arguments against the government’s request for dismissal. Sullivan directed Gleeson to recommend whether Flynn should face a criminal contempt charge for perjury. Flynn had admitted under oath at two different court proceedings that he was guilty of lying to the FBI before reversing course in January and denying he had lied.

SENATE BLOCKS INTERNET-PRIVACY AMENDMENT… The Senate yesterday narrowly blocked an amendment that would have prevented law enforcement from collecting information on Americans’ internet habits without a warrant. In the 59-37 vote, the amendment sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines and Democrat Ron Wyden fell just one vote short of the 60 votes it needed for inclusion in legislation to renew three surveillance tools used in national security investigations that expired two months ago. Senators voted 77 to 19 on a separate amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Lee and Democrat Patrick Leahy, allowing outside legal analysts to serve as independent advisers for the court that oversees surveillance-related warrants.

INVESTIGATORS SEIZE SENATOR BURR’S CELL PHONE… Federal agents used a warrant to seize Richard Burr’s cellphone as part of an investigation into his stock sales, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has already complied with an associated warrant for his cellphone records as investigators try to determine whether his actions constitute insider trading. The senator, along with his brother-in-law, dumped millions in stock after a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in February. Though he told the public the virus would not cause much harm, he warned private audiences that the effects would be disastrous. The sales saved him millions of dollars in potential losses.

REPUBLICANS RECLAIM CALIFORNIA HOUSE SEAT… Republican Mike Garcia has defeated Democrat Christy Smith in the special election for the California Congressional District 25 House seat left vacant when former California Democratic Representative Katie Hill resigned amid controversy last year. Garcia will finish out Hill’s term before a rematch with Smith in November’s general election. He ran on a platform of promises to lower taxes, “defeat socialism” and “build the wall,” while casting Smith as a liberal career politician.

WITHERSPOON TO STAR IN NETFLIX FILMS… Netflix announced yesterday that Reese Witherspoon will star in the romantic comedy films ”Your Place or Mine” and “The Cactus.” Witherspoon will reportedly produce the films through her Hello Sunshine banner. She will co-produce “Your Place or Mine” with Aggregate Films’ Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan and “The Cactus” with Lauren Neustadter.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE’S SON DIES… The 21-year-old son of Melissa Etheridge died yesterday. Etheridge released a statement blaming opioid addiction for the death of Beckett Cypher. He was one of two children the 58-year-old singer had with former partner Julie Cypher, both conceived with sperm from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby.

NCAA EXTENDS NBA DRAFT DECLARATION DEADLINE… The NCAA announced yesterday that it is “indefinitely” extending the deadline for college basketball prospects to decide whether they want to keep their names in consideration for the NBA Draft. Previously, college players who entered their names for draft consideration faced a June 3 deadline to withdraw from the draft if they wished to return to college. NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt says a decision on the new withdrawal date for college players will be made once the NBA has determined a timeline for the pre-draft process.

The Rundown for May 13, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,342,594 and the death toll stands at 80,820, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified remotely before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee yesterday. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned governments not to “jump over” various checkpoints and “prematurely open.”

TRUMP LAWYER TRIES TO PROTECT FINANCIAL RECORDS… President Trump’s personal lawyer argued before the Supreme Court yesterday that the president should not be subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens. Attorney Jay Sekulow, who is trying to prevent three financial institutions from complying with subpoenas for the president’s financial records, claimed that the president is a branch of government and is immune to subpoenas. Three House committees and the New York City district attorney have subpoenaed two banks and an accounting firm for Trump’s financial records.

JUDGE IN FLYNN’S CASE GRANTS TIME FOR CHALLENGES… The judge in Michael Flynn’s court case is delaying an immediate decision on the Justice Department’s request to withdraw the case and will allow time for outside parties to file amicus briefs in challenging the government’s position. Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak but sentencing was delayed when he sought to change his guilty plea. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan yesterday said he would set a schedule for parties to submit their challenges at a later date.

HOUSE DEMS UNVEIL $3T RELIEF PACKAGE… House Democrats yesterday unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes another round of direct payments to Americans. A vote on the measure is scheduled for Friday. It is expected to carry a party-line vote, meaning it faces an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled Senate if it’s passed in the Democratic-led House. Republicans claim they don’t see an imminent need for another emergency relief package.

BIDEN WINS NEBRASKA PRIMARY… Joe Biden moved a step closer toward his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee yesterday by winning the Nebraska primary. He was projected to pick up at least another 20 delegates out of the 33 up for grabs, giving him 1,444 of the 1,991 needed to clinch the nomination. President Trump won the Republican primary, and Senator Ben Sasse won the Republican primary for his seat. In-person voting was conducted, although voters were encouraged to vote early by mail.

ACTOR NICK CORDERO AWAKE AND CONSCIOUS… Actor Nick Cordero is awake and conscious after about three weeks in a medically-induced coma due to complications from coronavirus, his wife announced on social media yesterday. Cordero had entered the hospital on March 30 for and was intubated on April 1. One of his legs had to be amputated as the result of a blood clot. Cordero made his Broadway debut in 2012’s musical hit “Rock of Ages” before earning a Tony nomination in 2014 for “Bullets Over Broadway.” He appeared in the 2017 comedy remake “Going in Style” and his TV appearances included “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

EILISH GRANTED RESTRAINING ORDER… A judge in Los Angeles has granted Billie Eilish a temporary restraining order against a man who trespassed on her parents’ property on several occasions. The 18-year-old pop star sought the protection in papers filed on Monday. The man, identified as 24-year-old Prenell Rousseau, has been to stay 200 yards away from Billie and her family members. He allegedly turned up at the house seven times last week and on one occasion tried to gain entrance through a door. A hearing is scheduled for June 1.

NBA PRIORITIZES SAFETY IN PLANS TO RETURN… ESPN reported last night that a virtual meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver left participants in a Board of Governors call feeling positive about the league’s momentum toward a resumption of play this season. Owners and executives praised the league’s progress toward minimizing health risk upon a return and willingness to communicate with the players union. In a discussion centered on safety concerns, the league established a goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not force another shutdown.

The Rundown for March 12, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases stands at 1,324,488 and the number of dead has reached 79,756, according to figures released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The White House announced yesterday that staffers wear masks while moving about the West Wing. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said she is imposing a modified self-quarantine plan in case she was exposed to the coronavirus during a visit to the White House last Wednesday or meetings in Iowa with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and employees in his office announced plans to work from home after a senior staff member tested positive. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts refuses to identify nursing homes in his state where hundreds of residents and workers. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier regions could start reopening their economies this weekend after meeting criteria.

INFECTION RATES SPIKING IN PLACES… A report compiled by the White House’s pandemic task force claims coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities across the country. The finding contradicts claims by President Trump that infections are dropping “all throughout the country.” NBC News obtained a copy of the May 7 coronavirus task force report and noted that some of the highest infection rates have been recorded in Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; and Central City, Kentucky.

BARR FACING CALLS FOR RESIGNATION… Almost 2,000 former federal prosecutors and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation signed their names to an open letter calling for Attorney General William P. Barr’s resignation over the Justice Department’s dropping of the Michael Flynn case in federal court. The letter’s co-signers identified themselves as members of both parties and called the decision to drop Flynn’s prosecution a case of using “the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests.” The letter noted that Barr earlier overruled sentencing recommendations to seek favorable treatment for President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone.

SIOUX NATIONS DEFY SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR’S ORDER… Leaders from the Cheyenne River and Oglala Sioux nations pushed back against South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s threat of legal action if they did not remove nine coronavirus checkpoints on roads leading onto reservation land. One leader accused Noem’s office of potentially provoking violence over the checkpoints. Over the weekend, 17 South Dakota lawmakers with tribal land within their districts wrote a letter to the governor protesting the order a letter and warning that a lawsuit would cost taxpayer dollars.

FEDERAL JUDGE UPHOLDS PIPELINE RULING… A federal judge in Montana yesterday upheld last month’s ruling that canceled an environmental permit for the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline and threatened other oil and natural gas pipeline projects with delays. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to convinced Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to narrow his April 15 ruling that canceled a permit required for dredging work on pipelines across water bodies. Morris said that the Army Corps did not adequately consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on risks to endangered species and habitat when it renewed the permit in 2017.

JERRY STILLER DIES… Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller died yesterday of natural causes, his son Ben announced yesterday. He was 92. Stiller began his entertainment career in the 1960s as a comedy duo with his wife, Anne Meara, to whom he was married for more than 60 years. He is probably best remembered for playing Frank Costanza over six seasons in the sitcom “Seinfeld,” earning a primetime Emmy nomination in 1997. His other TV roles included Arthur Spooner in the sitcom “The King of Queens.” Stiller appeared with son Ben in several film comedies, including “Zoolander,” “Zoolander 2” and “The Heartbreak Kid.”

REALITY TV TATTOO ARTIST ARRESTED… A tattoo artist featured on the TV reality show “Ink Master” is facing a murder charge in connection with the crash of a high-end sports car that killed his 25-year-old passenger. Los Angeles police say Daniel Joseph Silva was driving a 2020 McLaren 600LT at high speed before it crashed into a stop sign and tree. An LAPD statement characterized the crash as a DUI fatal traffic collision.

BASEBALL PLANNING RE-OPENING… ESPN reported yesterday that Major League Baseball has presented a proposal for teams to return to the field as soon as July 4 weekend for an 82-game season. The proposal also includes an expansion of the playoff field from 10 teams to 14, access to home stadiums in areas that states have approved to reopen, as well as 50 players on the roster per team. Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly got approval of the plan after presenting an outline to 30 team owners. MLB and the MLB Players Association are scheduled to meet today and negotiate the logistics of launching the season.