Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 22, 2020

Harold Maass
Trump speaks at a Ford plant


Trump says economy won't shut down if 2nd coronavirus wave hits

President Trump said Thursday that the U.S. would not shut down its economy again if there is a second spike in coronavirus cases. "We're not going to close the country," Trump said during a tour of a Michigan Ford plant. "We're going to put out the fires." All 50 states have started executing plans to gradually reopen their economies, easing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing at least some businesses to reopen, many at reduced capacity to make it easier for people to respect social distancing rules. Some states, including Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona, are facing rising infection rates even as they try to ease some restrictions. Public health experts, including White House coronavirus task force fixture Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that a second coronavirus wave in the fall could be as bad as or worse than the first. [The Hill]


Man who recorded Arbury shooting charged with murder

Georgia authorities on Thursday arrested William Bryan, the man who recorded graphic cellphone video showing the deadly February shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. Bryan was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested earlier this month after Bryan's footage was posted online. Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed while jogging through a Glynn County, Georgia, neighborhood. Four prosecutors have handled the case. Attorneys for Arbery's family called for Bryan's arrest, saying his involvement in the killing was "obvious." Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, said Tuesday that Bryan "is not now, and has never been more than a witness to the shooting of Mr. Arbery." [The Washington Post]


2.4 million file new jobless claims

More than 2.4 million Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The new applications brought the total number of new unemployment claims to 38.6 million since the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. two months ago, roughly equal to the total initial claims filed during the Great Recession. The pace of the filings, down from nearly 2.7 million the previous week, has slowed as states begin gradually reopening their economies after weeks of stay-at-home orders. U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down by 0.4 percent, as rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China stoked concerns about the prospects of an economic rebound. [Bloomberg]


Senate confirms Ratcliffe as intelligence director

The Senate narrowly confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as the new director of national intelligence on Thursday. The 49-44 vote fell along party lines, as did the Senate Intelligence Committee's Tuesday decision to submit the nomination to the full Senate for a final vote. Ratcliffe withdrew after President Trump first nominated him last year as he faced bipartisan opposition over his lack of counterterrorism experience, exaggerated immigration enforcement record, and apparent support for right-wing conspiracy theories. In his second run at the job, Ratcliffe was more dismissive of so-called "deep state" conspiracies, and all Republicans united behind his nomination. Ratcliffe will take over for acting DNI Richard Grenell, who began filling in after the departure of Joseph Maguire. [The Washington Post, NBC News]


Beijing moves to crack down on Hong Kong with new security law

China said Thursday it was preparing to impose a new national security law for Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests erupted last year. The move was expected to provoke an outcry in Hong Kong, a former British colony that has enjoyed greater autonomy than the rest of China. President Trump warned that the United States would react "very strongly" to any attempt by Beijing to tighten its control over Hong Kong. The State Department said China would have to preserve Hong Kong's partial autonomy and respect for human rights to avoid it losing its special status under U.S. law, which is considered crucial to maintaining its viability as a global financial hub. [Reuters, CNN]


Trump administration leaving Open Skies treaty

The Trump administration plans to give official notice that it is leaving the Open Skies treaty, a 34-nation agreement allowing the U.S., Russia, and other nations to fly over each other's territory, U.S. officials announced Thursday. "Russia didn't adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out," President Trump said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was "abundantly clear that it is no longer in America's interest to remain a party" to the treaty. Trump added that there was a "very good chance" that Russia would seek a deal as the U.S. prepares to formally exit the treaty in six months. Rep. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Trump's plan "directly harms our country's security and breaks the law in the process." [NPR]


Corpus Christi base involved in suspected terror attack

A gunman tried to rush the security gate at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas with on Thursday in an attacked believed to be terror-related, FBI officials said. The vehicle stopped after security deployed a barrier. The suspect reportedly got out and opened fire. Guards returned fire. The alleged attacker, identified as 20-year-old Adam Alsahli, died. A member of the Navy's security forces was injured and hospitalized in "good condition," authorities said. The base was placed on lockdown. The attack came days after the Justice Department and the FBI announced that an investigation had found ties between Al Qaeda and a Saudi military trainee who killed three U.S. sailors and wounded several others in an attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida last year. [CNN]


Krasinski sells Some Good News to ViacomCBS

John Krasinski has reached a deal to license his feel-good Some Good News web series to ViacomCBS after a bidding war. The streaming service CBS All Access, which the company is rebranding and boosting with more original shows this summer, will be the first platform to offer new episodes. Krasinski self-financed and self-produced SGN to provide positive programming for people locked down at home during the coronavirus crisis. He also served as host. Krasinski will not host the new episodes, but he will remain involved as executive producer and will have a recurring role on camera. "Could not be more excited and proud to be partnering with CBS/Viacom to be able to bring Some Good News to so many more people!" Krasinski said in a statement. [The Hollywood Reporter]


Trump tours Ford plant without mask

President Trump on Thursday toured a Ford plant in Michigan that has been re-tooled to manufacture ventilators needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The visit provoked a renewed controversy over masks. President Trump did not wear a face covering during parts of his tour of the facility that were visible to the news media, despite a Ford policy requiring everyone in the facility to wear masks as a precaution against the coronavirus. Trump said he wore a mask during part of the visit — which Ford confirmed — but "did not want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it." Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel pointed out that wearing a mask in such a situation isn't just Ford policy; it's legally required in the hard-hit state. [The Associated Press]


Lori Loughlin to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

Prosecutors announced Thursday that actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Massimo Giannulli, would plead guilty in the national college admissions scandal. Loughlin had maintained her innocence, but she reportedly will plead guilty to conspiring to get her daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though they weren't involved in the sport. Giannulli also agreed to plead guilty to a criminal charge, prosecutors said. Gossip magazines reported that Loughlin regretted not taking a plea earlier, and feared that she could face a long term in prison. Under the plea, Loughlin reportedly faces two months in prison, and Giannulli faces five months. The couple will also have to pay a total of $400,000 in fines and perform community service. [The New York Times]