1/ Biden directed the intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine the origin of the coronavirus pandemic after a new report highlighted how three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 after developing symptoms consistent with Covid-19. Biden tasked the intelligence community with preparing a report within 90 days “on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of Covid-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident,” in order to “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.” In the statement Biden said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around those two scenarios, but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNBC / Politico)
2/ New York prosecutors convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in the criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings. The panel, convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, is expected to decide whether to indict Trump, executives at the Trump Organization or the business itself. Vance’s investigation has scrutinized Trump’s relationship with his lenders and whether he manipulated the valuation of his assets for tax benefits. The grand jury will sit for three days a week for six months, and likely hear matters beyond the Trump Organization investigation. One adviser said there’s “a cloud of nerves” hanging over Trump. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / Politico)
4/ U.S. troops and their NATO allies are set to be out of Afghanistan by early to mid-July – well ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline. The Pentagon, however, doesn’t have a plan to counter terrorist threats from groups like Al Qaeda or the Islamic State after troops leave, nor does it have a plan for ensuring security for Kabul’s international airport, which could jeopardize all diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. In addition, Defense Department officials haven’t secured agreements about repositioning American troops in nearby countries and haven’t decided whether American warplanes will continue to provide air support to Afghan forces to prevent cities from falling to the Taliban. (New York Times)
5/ Biden ousted four members of the Commission of Fine Arts, which is tasked with advising on “matters of design and aesthetics” in the nation’s capital. The seven-member independent federal agency consisted entirely of commissioners appointed by Trump. Last year, Trump signed an executive order requiring “beautiful” architecture as the preferred style for federal buildings. (CNN)
poll/ 85% of Republicans would prefer to see candidates running for office that mostly agree with Trump. 66% of Republicans say they think that Biden’s victory was not legitimate. (Quinnipiac)
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