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.

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