CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 2,381,538 and the nation’s death toll stands at 121,979, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The 36,000 positive cases reported nationally yesterday was a record daily high. The nation’s three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — have been among those reporting record highs. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday announced that everyone who goes to a state-run testing site will be given a free set of three-ply surgical masks. Meanwhile, dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who worked at President Trump’s rally in Tulsa last weekend have been ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive.
APPEALS COURT ORDER FLYNN CASE DISMISSAL… The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ordered a judge to dismiss the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Following the panel’s 2-1 ruling, Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wrote that there is not sufficient reason to question the Department of Justice’s decision to dismiss. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
HOUSE PANEL HEARS WILLIAM BARR TESTIMONY… Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer called Attorney General William Barr “the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law” during a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday. The hearing was to convened examine Barr’s actions, including his handling of the Mueller report and his role in forcing out Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney formerly detailed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, testified that prosecutors involved in the trial of Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone were under “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence. John Elias, an official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, told the panel that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers simply because he “did not like the nature of their underlying business.” Barr announced yesterday that he has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BROADENS ASSANGE CHARGES… The U.S. Department of Justice has broadened its 18 charges of conspiracy against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. An indictment released yesterday alleges that Assange recruited a well-known hacking group to attack and infiltrate the computer systems of multiple members of NATO. Assange is currently jailed in the United Kingdom while awaiting extradition to the U.S.
AHMAUD ARBERY KILLERS INDICTED… A Georgia grand jury yesterday indicted the three men involved in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging through a neighborhood. A Glynn County grand jury returned an indictment charging Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William R. Bryan in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Charges include malice and felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
HBO MAX BRINGS BACK GONE WITH THE WIND… HBO Max is bringing back the 1939 Southern war epic “Gone With the Wind” two weeks after removing it due to its romantic depiction of the antebellum South and stereotypical Black characters. TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart narrates a disclaimer that precedes the film’s airing on the streaming service. HBO Max is offering the film with, “extras” that include the vides “Gone With the Wind: A Complicated Legacy” and “Hattie McDaniel: What a Character!”
‘BREAKING BAD,’ ‘SAUL’ FEATURED IN AMC SCHEDULE… AMC revealed yesterday that it will be adding new “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” content to its July schedule. The network will also air special marathons and films starring Bryan Cranston. All 10 Season 5 episodes of “Better Call Saul” will air July 9. Two films featuring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, “Godzilla” and “Wakefield,” will air back to back on July 6.
HOCKEY HALL-OF-FAMERS… The Hockey Hall of Fame has announced a six-member class for 2020. First-ballot inductees Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa will be enshrined with defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, goaltender Kim St-Pierre in the women’s category and Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland in the builder category. Iginla will join Grant Fuhr as the only two Black players honored for their on-ice accomplishments.
SACRAMENTO KINGS PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE… Sacramento Kings players Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len have tested positive for coronavirus. At least one other player on the team reportedly also is infected. The Kings, with a 28-36 record, are one of the 22 NBA teams scheduled to resume games on July 30 in Orlando, Florida.