• 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,200,000; deaths: ~503,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,565,000; deaths: ~126,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past year, according to a classified U.S. intelligence assessment. Trump and administration officials were briefed on the Russian operation in recent months, while the U.S. was in the midst of peace negotiations with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The White House’s National Security Council also discussed the issue at an interagency meeting in late March. Additionally, U.S. intelligence officials and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted superiors about the covert Russian operation as early as January 2020. U.S. intelligence officials say the bounties are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple U.S. troops in the region over the last few years, though it is unclear exactly how many were targeted or killed under the program. The same Russian unit has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert actions in Europe and has offered rewards for successful attacks in the past. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Washington Post / The Guardian)

2/ Trump denied receiving an intelligence briefing on the alleged Russian bounty program, tweeting that “nobody briefed or told me” and that he had “just” heard about it. Trump also claimed that the intelligence community didn’t brief Pence or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the Taliban bounty payments because “they did not find this info credible.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, claimed that Trump and other top administration officials were not “briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also “confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence” related to a Russian bounty, and that all news reports “about an alleged briefing are inaccurate.” Trump added that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration” and called for the New York Times, which broke the story, to “reveal” its sourcing. (Associated Press / Axios / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR)

3/ The White House insisted that Trump still “has not been briefed on the matter” of Russian bounties. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that the intelligence was unconfirmed, saying there was “no consensus,” that there were “dissenting opinions,” and that the “veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” As she spoke, however, administration officials were briefing a limited number of House Republicans at the White House on intelligence that Russia offered bounties. (ABC News / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / CNN)

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “I think it’s time that The New York Times and The Washington Post hand back their Pulitzers.” During the briefing, a reporter asked, “If he hasn’t been briefed, how is he certain that Russia didn’t put out this bounty?” McEnany responded, accusing The New York Times of being “absolutely irresponsible” reporting that Trump had, in fact, been briefed. She then called on the Times and Post to turn in their Pulitzers before abruptly ending the briefing. (Mediaite / Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. The move would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500. (CNN)

4/ Trump promoted a video on Twitter of a supporter shouting “White power! White power!” from a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs. Trump retweeted the racist video – which shows a white man driving past anti-Trump protesters at a Florida retirement community and shouting racist rhetoric – and thanked the “great people of The Villages” in the video. He deleted the tweet more than three hours later. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later claimed that Trump “did not hear the one statement made on the video,” adding that all Trump saw “was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / Axios / The Guardian)

5/ Trump retweeted a video of a white man and woman aiming a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun at peaceful black protesters in St. Louis. The couple stood in front of their mansion with guns and repeatedly shouted “Get out! Private property, get out!” at protesters, who were marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released the names and identifying details of people who support defunding the police. Mark and Patricia McCloskey are personal-injury lawyers who work together in The McCloskey Law Center. They own a million dollar home. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch / New York Times / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Washington Post)

6/ Twitch temporarily suspended Trump’s channel and Reddit banned its biggest community devoted to Trump. Twitch suspended Trump’s campaign channel for “hateful conduct” that was aired on stream, saying the videos ran afoul of its rules against content that “promotes, encourages or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment or violence” based on an individual’s identity. Separately, Reddit banned the subreddit “The_Donald” for consistently breaking its rules, including promoting hate based on “identity or vulnerability,” antagonized other communities, and for failing to meet Reddit’s “most basic expectations.” The_Donald had more than 790,000 users devoted to posting memes, viral videos, and supportive content about Trump. [Editor’s note: Where you at Twitter and Facebook?] (Politico / The Verge / Axios / TechCrunch / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

7/ The World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “speeding up” and the “worst is yet to come.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ comments come as the global number of coronavirus cases passed 10 million, with more than 500,000 deaths. The CDC’s principal deputy director added that “this is really the beginning” as the United States surpassed 2.5 million confirmed cases. With more than 100,000 confirmed cases, Los Angeles County health officials warned that conditions were deteriorating as data showed an “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.” Florida reported 5,266 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing its rolling seven-day average to a record high for the 22nd day in a row. South Carolina set a record on its rolling seven-day average for the 21st day in a row. Arizona saw a record high in hospitalizations and its seven-day rolling average for new cases is 12% higher than it was a week ago. In Texas, coronavirus-related hospitalizations reached a record high for the 16th day in a row, while its rolling seven-day average for cases topped 19 days in a row. Texas Medical Center hospitals stopped updating metrics showing hospital capacity or projections of future capacity after their base intensive care capacity had hit 100% for the first time during the pandemic. And, at least 14 states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans to slow the surge of coronavirus cases. Pence, meanwhile, postponed campaign events in Florida and Arizona “out of an abundance of caution” while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany played down the spike in cases, saying, “We’re aware that there are embers that need to be put out.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CBS News / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Jacksonville will institute a city-wide mask order to stem the spread of coronavirus. The Republican National Committee relocated its August convention to Jacksonville after a battle with North Carolina about restrictions on the event in Charlotte. (Axios / Politico)

  • The first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus will cost U.S. hospitals $3,120 for the typical patient with private insurance. Gilead Sciences will charge patients who are covered by government programs like Medicaid will be charged $2,340 for remdesivir. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The FBI issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests as way to obtain personal information that could be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. (New York Times)

  • The Trump campaign removed thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats hours before Trump’s rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

8/ The Supreme Court struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic. Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the court’s liberals in the 5-to-4 decision, said “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.” Roberts’s vote was unexpected because he dissented in the 2016 Texas case, which was essentially identical to the Louisiana case. The Louisiana law required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, which would have left one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year. In the past two weeks, Roberts has voted with the court’s liberals on job discrimination against gay and transgender workers, on a program protecting Dreamers, and now on abortion. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. A federal judge ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement must release children held in family detention centers by July 17 because of the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The children must be released with their parents or to “available suitable sponsors or other available COVID-free non-congregate settings” with the consent of their parents or guardians. (NBC News / CNN)

  2. A federal judge ordered Roger Stone to report to prison by July 14. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted a two-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, but not the two months that Stone had requested. (Washington Post)

  3. Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump on “murder and terrorism charges” related to the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani in January. Iran also asked Interpol for help detaining Trump and dozens of others involved in the drone strike. (Al Jazeera / CNN / Daily Beast)

  4. Trump visited his private golf course in Virginia Saturday – one day after saying he had canceled a weekend trip to his New Jersey golf club so he could stay in Washington, D.C. to “make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast)


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