10 things you need to know today: July 4, 2019

Trump will host Fourth of July extravaganza facing criticism over cost, DOJ reverses again on census citizenship question, and more

A military vehicle in Washington
(Image credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Trump to host blowout Fourth celebration despite cost, partisanship concerns

President Trump is holding a big Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, despite criticism over its cost and possible politicization. The National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall, is diverting nearly $2.5 million to cover costs associated with the "Salute to America." The Pentagon is likely spending millions more on displays of tanks, aircraft, and other military hardware. The White House and Interior Department declined to say how much taxpayers are paying, or why Republican groups and Trump's campaign are passing out tickets to the VIP section. Trump promised the "show of a lifetime." Military officials have not commented on the celebration, which Democrats and other critics say marks a departure from the tradition of nonpartisan Independence Day events.

The Washington Post The Associated Press

2. Trump administration reverses on census citizenship question yet again

The Trump administration abruptly reversed course on Wednesday, as Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge in Maryland they had been told to keep trying to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census despite a Supreme Court ruling blocking it. The lawyers said they had been instructed to seek a way to include the question that is consistent with the Supreme Court decision. The surprise development came a day after administration officials ordered the Census Bureau to start printing census forms without the question. President Trump telegraphed the latest reversal earlier Wednesday when he tweeted that "we are absolutely moving forward," with the effort to add a question on whether census respondents are U.S. citizens.

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3. Amash announces he's leaving Republican Party

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) announced Thursday that he is leaving the GOP to become an independent. "Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party," Amash wrote in a Fourth of July op-ed for The Washington Post. "No matter your circumstance, I'm asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us." Amash has sparred with other Republicans since May, when he became the first sitting Republican in Congress to back calls to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Amash, a libertarian, said he was "disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it," adding that "the two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions."

The Washington Post The Hill

4. Judge temporarily blocks Ohio abortion bill from taking effect

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the implementation of Ohio's new law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, pending the result of a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett wrote in his ruling that the law would violate a Supreme Court precedent by imposing an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose an abortion before the fetus is viable. Many women don't know they are pregnant until after six weeks. The law includes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, making it one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the nation. Five other states have approved so-called heartbeat abortion bills this year, and one in Mississippi has already been blocked.

The Hill The Columbus Dispatch

5. Warren, Harris surge ahead of Biden in Iowa poll

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led the field of Democratic presidential candidates in a poll of Iowa Democrats that was released Wednesday by the nonprofit organization Focus on Rural America. Warren was backed by 20 percent of respondents likely to participate in next year's caucuses. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was close behind at 18 percent, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 17 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 12 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 10 percent. Warren, Harris, and Biden are all within the margin of error, indicating a dead heat. Warren and Harris made big gains after their widely praised debate performances, compared to the same poll in March. Warren's support jumped 12 percentage points and Harris' rose nine points.

Focus on Rural America Politico

6. Boeing pledges $100 million for those affected by 737 Max crashes

Boeing said Wednesday it would provide $100 million for relatives of victims and others affected by the crashes of two of its 737 Max jetliners within five months. The crashes killed 346 people. Boeing said the money would be for "education, hardship, and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities." The company said the pledge was an "initial outreach." Boeing also faces dozens of lawsuits that could cost the company an estimated $1 billion. Robert Clifford, a Chicago lawyer suing on behalf of 23 victims in the second crash, said it was too early to know what to make of the offer. "The devil is in the details," Clifford said in an interview. "Tell me how it works."


7. Prosecutor drops charges against Alabama woman who was shot, lost pregnancy

An Alabama prosecutor announced Wednesday she would drop a misdemeanor manslaughter charge against Marshae Jones, who suffered a miscarriage after being shot in the stomach in a fight with a co-worker. "This is truly a disturbing and heartbreaking case. An unborn child was tragically lost and families on both sides of this matter suffered," said Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynniece Washington. "Nothing, nothing, nothing we do today or in the future will change that reality." A grand jury declined to indict Jones' co-worker, saying she acted in self-defense when she drew a gun and fired. Jones, however, was indicted under an Alabama law giving a fetus the same rights as a child. Jones, 27, was arrested last week, sparking protests and angry calls to prosecutors.

ABC News The New York Times

8. SEAL acquitted of murder gets demotion, pay cut for other charge

A military jury on Wednesday sentenced Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher to a pay cut and demotion for his conviction on a charge of posing for a photo with a dead ISIS prisoner. Gallagher was acquitted a day earlier on the rest of the charges he faced, including murder for the death of a 12-year-old ISIS fighter captured in Iraq. The jury also sentenced Gallagher to four months of confinement, but he was not expected to be held because he has already served 201 days in custody. Gallagher did not testify during his trial, but he told the jury he took "full responsibility" for the photo. "This has put a black eye on the two communities I love: The United States Marine Corps and the Navy," he said. "Most of all, it has put my family through hell the last two years."


9. Appeals court: Amazon can be sued over defective 3rd-party products

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold on its platform by third-party vendors. Amazon argued it wasn't a "seller" because it merely provided the sales platform, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed in its 2-1 ruling. "Amazon ... plays a large role in the actual sales process," Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth wrote in the opinion. "This includes receiving customer shipping information, processing customer payments, relaying funds and information to third-party vendors, and collecting the fees it charges for providing these services." The case involved a woman who bought a leash on Amazon that malfunctioned while she was walking her dog, hitting her in the face and blinding her in one eye.

The Hill

10. Netherlands advances to women's World Cup final against U.S.

The Netherlands beat Sweden 1-0 in extra time in France on Wednesday to advance to the women's World Cup final against the U.S. on Sunday. Jackie Groenen, a 24-year-old midfielder, collected a deflected pass outside the box and blasted it into the goal's lower right corner in the 99th minute. "I saw a nice angle ... The ball just came really nicely, and I thought, 'Let's do this,'" she said. This was the first time a women's World Cup semifinal went into extra time, and Sunday will be the Netherlands team's first trip to the final. Sweden will go up against England for third place on Saturday. "Now it's about the medal," Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said. "Ending up third of course feels a lot better than ending up fourth."


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.