The Rundown for June 2, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. has reached 1,811,277 and the death toll stands at 105,147, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A comprehensive study published yesterday in the Lancet medical journal found that physical distance and perhaps the use of a mask were the two best ways to prevent transmission. The study urged people to stay at least three feet apart and more if possible. Also yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer rescinded the state’s stay-at-home order, allowing many businesses to reopen later this week. Whitmer issued an executive order allowing retailers to open Thursday and restaurants to open on Monday with both being subject to capacity limits.

TRUMP THREATENS TO USE MILITARY ON PROTESTERS… Demonstrations and clashes with police continued in cities throughout the U.S. yesterday. President Trump threatened the nation’s governors that he would deploy the military to states that fail to end violent protests over police brutality. Later, police under federal command fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at peaceful demonstrators so that Trump could walk to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church and pose for photos while holding a Bible. The bishop who oversees the church was “outraged” that the president would use that place of worship for a photo-op. “We need moral leadership and he’s done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” lamented Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde.

WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP INCITING VIOLENCE… An account claiming to be associated with a non-existent national anti-fascist organization has been suspended on Twitter after sharing a tweet that incited violence. The account, which has been connected to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, declared, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours …” Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts and is conducting an investigation into the widespread use of disinformation to deflect blame for recent violence.

GEORGE FLOYD DEATH OFFICIALLY RULED A HOMICIDE… The Hennepin County Medical Examiner yesterday officially ruled last week’s death of George Floyd a homicide. According to the updated report, the 46-year-old unarmed black man died on May 25 due to a “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression” while Floyd was being restrained by law enforcement officers. Hours before the update was released, attorneys for Floyd’s family released the findings of an independent autopsy, which determined Floyd died of “asphyxia from sustained pressure” on his neck and back.

LOUISVILLE POLICE CHIEF FIRED… Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the firing of Police Chief Steve Conrad yesterday in response to the performance of his officers. The announcement came a day after the fatal shooting of the owner of a barbecue restaurant that offered meals to police officers. 53-year-old David McAtee died while police and National Guard opened fire while enforcing a curfew. He was inside his restaurant at the time. Mayor Fischer said police turned off their body cameras prior to the shooting.

BIDEN MEETS WITH BLACK LEADERS… Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed to African-American leaders yesterday that he would fight institutional racism and re-establish a Justice Department police oversight body within the first 100 days of being elected president. Biden made the announcement while visiting with political, religious and education leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The former vice president listened and took notes before standing to address the crowd.

… Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts announced yesterday that they are postponing their joint summer stadium tour until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original stadium tour was set to kick off on June 18 in Jacksonville, Florida. Members of Motley Crue were looking forward to returning to the road together following the release of their Netflix biopic “The Dirt.” Poison was set to tour with its original lineup of Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall and Rikki Rockett.

MUSIC INDUSTRY TAKING THE DAY OFF… The music industry will be observing a day-long “blackout” today in response to George Floyd’s killing last week. All three major record labels yesterday promised on social media “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community.” Workers at the labels have been given the day off as “a day of action,” intended to “provoke accountability and change.” Interscope vowed not to release new music this week.

MLB OWNERS FAVOR SHORT SEASON… ESPN reported yesterday that Major League Baseball owners are now willing to honor the March accord in which players agreed to prorate their 2020 salaries based on the number of games played but are also angling for a much shorter regular season. Owners are thinking in terms of a 50-game season, with players earning their full prorated salaries. Players have sought a full prorated portion of their salaries based on a March 26 agreement with the league. The Players Association on Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8 percent of that number.


The Rundown for June 1, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… At least 19,788 new coronavirus cases and 600 virus-related deaths were identified in the U.S. yesterday, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases reported in the nation stands at 1,790,191 and the death toll is listed at 104,383. Brazil remains a hotspot for the disease as its 514,000 cases are more than any country outside the U.S.

PROTESTS RAGE… Protests targeting the killings of black people at the hands of police flared across the nation again yesterday, as peaceful demonstrations mixed with pockets of violence. President Trump, who reportedly was taken to a bunker as protests neared the White House, expressed anger at the destruction and announced that the U.S. “will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization” despite no evidence that the group is behind the violence. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday declared a state of disaster and ordered thousands of additional troops and more than 1,000 National Guard members to support local law enforcement in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that two police officers have been fired after a video appeared to show them tasing two protesters and dragging them out of a car on Saturday. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney ordered all retail stores to close immediately in order to “fully enforce” an 8 p.m. curfew. Former Vice President and current presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited the site of Saturday night’s Wilmington, Delaware, protests. “We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.” he said.

TRUMP WON’T CONTROL NATIONAL GUARD… President Trump will not take the dramatic step for now of seeking control of the National Guard, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien announced yesterday. The National Guard says that it has activated about 5,000 soldiers and airmen in 15 states and the District of Columbia, but that “state and local law enforcement agencies remain responsible for security.” During his appearance on CNN’s “Face the Nation,” O’Brien also attacked the World Health Organization as “corrupt” and vowed that the U.S. could better use its public-health funds.

MINNESOTA AG TAKING OVER GEORGE FLOYD CASE… Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said yesterday that he is turning over the George Floyd case to Attorney General Keith Ellison. The former congressman will assist Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and the two are expected to begin work today. Floyd’s family had previously requested Ellison take over the case from Freeman. Minneapolis City Council on Saturday asked Walz to appoint Ellison as special prosecutor in this case.

SPACEX CAPSULE ARRIVES AT SPACE STATION… SpaceX yesterday delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon capsule, carrying test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, pulled up to the station and docked automatically. It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the space station in its more than 20 years of existence.

… Actors Kendrick Sampson and John Cusack were among those who had contact with police at George Floyd protests over the weekend. Sampson, who stars in the HBO comedy-drama series “Insecure,” said he went to the emergency room after being struck by seven rubber bullets and police batons at a protest in Los Angeles. Cusack tweeted on Saturday that police approached him as he was filming a burning car and struck his bike.

GUNNA TOPS ALBUM CHART… Gunna’s new release, “Wunna,” sold 111,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” jumped into second place with 65,000 units sold. Last week’s champ, Future’s “High Off Life,” dropped to third place on sales of 61,000 copies. The 1975’s “Notes on a Conditional Form” opened in fourth place on sales of 54,000 units. Polo G’s “The Goat” capped the top five with 52,000 copies sold.

… The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday delivered a return-to-play proposal to team owners. According to ESPN, the proposal includes a 114-game season, deferred salaries in the event of a canceled postseason and the option for all players to opt out of a potential 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns. Players rejected a previous plan presented by owners. Both sides are hopeful that an agreement could be in place as early as this week.

JR SMITH PUMMELS VANDAL… A video posted online yesterday shows free-agent NBA guard JR Smith beating up a man who allegedly broke the window of Smith’s truck during the protests in Los Angeles over the weekend. The video shows Smith kicking the man when he is on the ground and then punching him when he gets up and runs away. Smith said he was parked in a residential area and not near any stores where looting took place during the protests.

The Rundown for May 25, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 1,642,021 and the death toll stands at 97,698, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. A federal court upheld California’s restrictions on church services, ruling that the state’s decision to close places of worship amid the COVID-19 pandemic does not “infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation” nor does it “impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief” in a selective manner.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPOSES BRAZIL TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS… The Trump administration announced last night that it will impose travel restrictions on foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the last 14 days. With about 350,000 confirmed cases, the South American nation has become the world’s second major hotspot for coronavirus infections. The restriction will not affect trade between the two countries.

U.S. ‘CONSPIRACIES AND LIES’ ANGER CHINA FOREIGN MINISTER… China Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Chinese-U.S. tensions have been intensified by the spreading “conspiracies and lies” about the coronavirus. Wang accused the U.S. of using the coronavirus as a political tool in its attacks on China. President Trump has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic and Wang urged the U.S. to “stop wasting time and stop wasting precious lives” in its response to the pandemic.

ECONOMIC ADISER TALKS UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS… Senior White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday that he expects unemployment rates to increase in the coming months and possibly remain in double digits in November. Hasset said that the unemployment rate, which topped 14.7 percent, could surpass 20 percent by the end of the month. In a report released on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people filing for new unemployment benefits in the last nine weeks is nearing 40 million. Unemployment rates have already exceeded 20 percent in Hawaii, Michigan and Nevada.

FLORIDA ‘PAY-TO-VOTE’ LAW RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL… Voting-rights advocates are celebrating a federal judge’s ruling yesterday that Florida’s “pay-to-vote” law that prevents felons from voting if they cannot pay court fines and fees is unconstitutional. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last year after Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law. In issuing the ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle noted that there is no system in place that keeps track or informs Florida felons of how much they owe.

… Future’s new release, “High Off Life,” sold 153,000 copies to debut atop the Billboard 200 album chart. Polo G’s “The Goat” opened at No. 2 after selling 99,000 units. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” jumped into third place after selling 65,000 copies. Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” slipped into fourth place with 58,000 units sold. DaBaby’s “Blame It On Baby” sold 44,000 copies to cap the top five.

‘THE WILLOUGHBYS’ FIND THEIR AUDIENCE… Netflix’s animated family feature, “The Willoughbys,” has been watched by 37.6 million households since its April 22 premiere. The series, which is narrated by Ricky Gervais, centers on siblings who devise a scheme to get rid of their parents. The series’ voice actors include Will Forte, Alessia Cara, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Maya Rudolph and Terry Crews.

NEW YORK SPORTS TEAMS RETURN TO FACILITIES… The Brooklyn Nets announced yesterday that they will open their training center for voluntary workouts tomorrow. The announcement followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that all professional sports teams in the state can return to their facilities. Other New York-based teams have yet to announce their re-opening plans. Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL owners have been negotiating with players union officials over plans to resume play.

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 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.

The Rundown for May 8, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. reached 1,219,066 yesterday and the number of dead has risen to 73,297, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The governors of Oregon, California and Michigan have announced plans for phased re-openings as jobless claims have topped 33.5 million. Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that next Friday she will begin loosening statewide restrictions on retail stores, youth programs, and daycares on. Rural counties that have lower rates of the virus can reopen beauty salons, gyms, bars, and restaurants with certain limitations. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued guidelines permitting manufacturers to reopen as early as today. His order also allows warehouse and logistics facilities to return to work, and for retail businesses to offer curbside service. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is allowing manufacturers in her state to restart on Monday but extended her stay-at-home order for two more weeks. Finally, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna Therapeutics for a second phase of clinical trials. Moderna, which is based in Massachusetts, was given $483 million in federal funding last month to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

DOJ DROPS CHARGES AGAINST FLYNN… The Justice Department announced yesterday that it is dropping the criminal case against President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn. The stunning announcement was a stunning reversal for prosecutors following Flynn’s earlier guilty plea and admission to lying to the FBI in what he conceded was a non-coerced January 2017 interview. The filing under the watch of Attorney General William Barr prompted widespread outrage and prompted lead prosecutor Brandon Van Grack to withdraw from the prosecution without explanation. President Trump, who said on December 2, 2017, that he had to fire Flynn for lying to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence, lauded yesterday’s decision and has recently claimed he would welcome him back into the administration. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says he will schedule a hearing with Barr as quickly as possible.

RUSSIA-INTERFERENCE PROBE TRANSCRIPTS RELEASED… The House intelligence committee yesterday released 57 transcripts from its investigation Russia’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The transcripts span more than 6,000 pages and include interviews conducted between 2017 and 2018 as part of the investigation to determine whether President Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the results of the election. Upon the conclusion of the investigation in 2018, former special counsel Robert Mueller found that Russia did interfere in the election but was unable to conclude whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government or whether Trump obstructed the investigation. In releasing the transcripts, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said they show “ample evidence” of corrupt interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia.

SENATE FAILS TO OVERRIDE WAR POWERS MEASURE VETO… The Senate yesterday failed to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution that would have limited presidential war-making authority against Iran. The 49-44 was short of the two-thirds majority required to override the veto issued by Trump on Wednesday Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, along with Republican senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, had sponsored the measure, which carried bipartisan support in both chambers.

ARRESTS IN KILLING OF JOGGER… Two men have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault for the February fatal shooting of a 25-year-old African-American jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were booked into the Glynn County Jail. Cellphone video capturing their killing of Ahmaud Arbery was posted on social media earlier this week and immediately prompted national outrage. Arbery would have turned 26 today.

FIRE SCORCHES FLORIDA PANHANDLE… Some 1,600 residents have been evacuated from their neighborhoods in the Florida Panhandle, where fire crews have been battling an erratic fire that has consumed 2,000 acres. A stretch of Interstate 10 remained closed in both directions near Pensacola because of smoke. 13 homes in Santa Rosa County were destroyed and multiple structures were lost in neighboring Walton County, authorities say.

APPEAL COURT SIDES WITH JERRY SEINFELD… An appeals court sided with Jerry Seinfeld yesterday in response to a copyright claim that Seinfeld stole the idea for his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” series from a former collaborator. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled against writer Christian Charles in supporting a lower court’s decision. Charles said he pitched the concept for “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” to Seinfeld in November 2001 but Seinfeld rejected it. The online streaming program was distributed by Sony Pictures Television through Crackle before being sold to Netflix in 2017.

HISTORY CHANNEL CUTS… A&E Networks announced yesterday that it will not renew the History channel shows “Project Blue Book” and “Knightfall” for third seasons. “Project Blue Book was based on the real-life experiences of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a college professor called upon by the U.S. Air Force to investigate unexplained mysteries, including aliens from other planets. “Knightfall” was a drama about the Knights Templar, set in the 14th Century.

NCAA CONTINUES TO HAMMER KANSAS… The University of Kansas’ men’s basketball program committed “egregious” and “severe” rules violations that “significantly undermine and threaten the NCAA Collegiate Model,” the NCAA’s enforcement staff said yesterday in a reply to the university. Head coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend “embraced, welcomed and encouraged” Adidas employees and consultants to influence high-profile recruits to sign with Kansas, according to the NCAA. The university is charged with five Level I rules violations, including lack of institutional control. Kansas is also charged with two Level II violations and one Level III violation related to the football program under former coach David Beaty.

The Rundown for May 4, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is at least 1,122,486 and the number of dead has risen to 65,735, according to figures released last night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Trump warned Americans during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News last night that the pandemic could claim as many as 100,000 lives nationwide. At the same event, Vice President Mike Pence conceded that he should have worn a mask when visiting the Mayo Clinic last week. He faced harsh backlash for not adhering to the hospital’s policy.

RESPONSE COORDINATOR WORRIED ABOUT CORONAVIRUS PROTESTS… White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday that she finds the anti-lockdown protests “devastatingly worrisome” because demonstrators are not practicing social distancing measures and could help spread the disease. Protesters turned out in at least 10 states on Friday to protest restrictions imposed among the pandemic. Crowds have been small at all but a couple of the events but Dr. Birx said it’s important that Americans “protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

INTELLIGENCE REPORT ACCUSES CHINA OF ‘CONCEALING SEVERITY’… A Department of Homeland Security intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press says China “intentionally concealed the severity” of the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak so the country could hoard medical supplies such as face masks and gloves. According to the report, China sought to hide information in January from the World Health Organization that the virus “was a contagion” so it could stock up on protective equipment. AP consulted the documents after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that there is a significant amount of evidence that the coronavirus “came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

SEVEN STATES JOIN NORTHEAST CORONAIRUS CONSORTIUM… New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that six other states have joined his in a seven-state consortium for buying coronavirus-related medical supplies and testing equipment. Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware have joined New York in forming the consortium. Meanwhile, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker criticized the White House for not taking steps earlier to ensure states have the supplies needed for coronavirus testing. Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pritzker said he’s thankful for the 600,000 swabs the White House has promised him.

BIDEN WINS KANSAS PRIMARY… Joe Biden cruised to an easy win in Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary in Kansas and inched closer to the number of delegates he needs to clinch the party’s nomination. The former vice president now has 1,435 delegates on his way to the 1,991 he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot at the party’s national convention. Saturday’s vote was conducted exclusively by mail.

ACTOR SAM LLOYD DIES… Hollywood is mourning the passing of actor Sam Lloyd, who died Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital of complications from lung cancer. He was 56. Lloyd appeared in 95 episodes of “Scrubs” as lawyer Ted Buckland. His television credits include “Seinfeld,” “Modern Family” and “The West Wing.”

YOUNGBOY TOPS ALBUM CHART… YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s new release, “38 Baby 2,” sold 67,000 copies to top the Billboard 200 album chart. DaBaby’s “Blame It On Baby” slipped into second place after selling 56,000 units. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake” remained in third place on sales of 49,000 copies. The Weeknd’s “After Hours” dropped to fourth place on sales of 48,000 units. Lil Baby’s “My Turn” capped the top five with 41,000 copies sold.

CHIEFS SIGN UNDRAFTED QUARTERBACK… The Kansas City Chiefs added to their quarterback depth chart by signing undrafted rookie Shea Patterson from the University of Michigan. Patterson, who played at the University of Mississippi his first two seasons, threw for 8,800 yards in his four collegiate seasons. For the Wolverines last season, he threw for 3,061 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Rundown for April 30, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to 1,039,909 yesterday and the death toll jumped to 60,966, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. President Trump announced that the federal government will not be extending its social-distancing guidelines when they expire today. Trump said guidelines will be “fading out” because of work that governors are doing in their states. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis revealed yesterday that his state will begin lifting its coronavirus shelter-in-place order on Monday. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that Los Angeles will become the first major city in America to offer wide-scale testing to all of its residents, with or without symptoms.

CORONAVIRUS DRUG SHOWS PROMISE… Scientists are excited about the results from an experimental drug that appears to be effective against the coronavirus. Officials say that in a study of 1,063 patients sick enough to be hospitalized, Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31 percent. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that’s not certain from the partial results revealed so far. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

AMASH CONSIDERING PRESIDENTIAL RUN… Michigan congressman Justin Amash is exploring a presidential run as the Libertarian candidate. Amash, a former Republican who switched to independent, said weeks ago that he was considering entering the race. He has been critical of President Trump and joined Democrats in calling for his impeachment inquiry.

COURT STRIKES DOWN KANSAS VOTER LAW… A federal appeals court yesterday declared unconstitutional the Kansas law that required proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. The law took effect in 2013 but was later blocked by a federal trial judge. In explaining its ruling, a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach “failed to show that a substantial number of non-citizens successfully registered to vote.”

ECONOMY CONTRACTS… The nation’s economy suffered its most severe contraction in more than a decade in the first quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said yesterday. Official figures revealed that the economy sank at an annual rate of 4.8 percent, bringing the first contraction since 2014. The coronavirus pandemic “is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world,” according to policymakers at the Federal Reserve.

U.S. TO PREVENT WEAPONS SALES TO IRAN… Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed yesterday that the U.S. will prevent Iran from buying conventional weapons once a United Nations embargo expires in October. The embargo is part of the 2015 multination accord aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapon capabilities in exchange for sanction relief. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, prompting Iran to restart banned nuclear activities.

FAA INVESTIGATES ANOTHER HARRISON FORD INCIDENT… Federal Aviation Administration investigators are looking into an incident involving actor Harrison Ford last week at a Los Angeles-area airport. Ford was allegedly piloting a small plane that wrongly crossed a runway where another aircraft was landing. There was no danger of a crash, investigators say. The 77-year-old Ford reportedly has acknowledged his mistake and apologized. Ford is known to FAA investigators. In 2017, he flew low over an American Airlines plane with 110 passengers and crew on board at John Wayne airport. In 2015, he crash-landed a vintage airplane on a Los Angeles golf course.

ACTOR IRRFAN KHAN DIES… Indian film star Irrfan Khan died yesterday of a colon infection after a battle with cancer. He was 53. American movie-goers saw in the films “Jurassic World,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Life of Pi.” His 2008 film “Slumdog Millionaire” won eight Oscars, including for Best Picture.

FORMER JAGUARS LINEBACKER TELVIN SMITH ARRESTED… Former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith was arrested at his Jacksonville home last night and charged with one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. The 29-year-old Smith was later released on a $50,000 bond. ESPN reported that Smith is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl multiple times in August and September. Investigators reportedly found evidence in Smith’s car that linked him to the victim. Smith was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2017. He recorded a career-high 134 tackles in 2018 but announced after the season announced that he needed to take time off for his family and his health. He hasn’t played since.