Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 10, 2020

Harold Maass
A protester in front of the Supreme Court
Alex Wong/Getty Images


Supreme Court rules prosecutors can see Trump's financial records

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Trump's claim of immunity from investigation while in office, ruling that New York prosecutors can subpoena eight years of Trump's personal and business tax records. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch concurred with the majority in the 7-2 ruling against Trump in his attempt to block a subpoena of his accounting firm. The court, however, in another 7-2 decision, prevented Congress from accessing Trump's financial records for now, sending the case back to lower courts for additional review. The White House called the decisions a win, saying the court "temporarily blocked" the release of Trump's tax returns, but Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the rulings were a "tremendous victory" for the founding principle that nobody is above the law. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]


New coronavirus cases hit 6th record in 10 days

Authorities across the United States reported another day of record new coronavirus infections on Thursday, marking the sixth new high in 10 days. The surge of about 60,000 new cases was driven by spiking infections across the South and the West, mostly in states that eased lockdowns and reopened their economies early after the first spike in the spring. At least six states — Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, and Texas — reported single-day infection records. At least two states saw their biggest death toll increases yet, with Florida reporting 120 deaths and Tennessee 22. Hospitalizations rose sharply in some areas, too, forcing many hospitals across the South and West to open up beds by canceling elective surgeries and discharging patients early. [The New York Times]


WHO revises guidance, says airborne coronavirus transmission possible

The World Health Organization published a revised guidance on Thursday saying that the coronavirus could become airborne in some environments, so it could not rule out the possible airborne transmission of the virus in "indoor crowded spaces." It mentioned choir practices, restaurants, and gyms as places where airborne transmission could occur. The WHO said that clusters traced to enclosed spaces, often with poor ventilation, could be evidence of airborne infection but also could have been caused by infected surfaces and respiratory droplets that have long been considered the main path of infection. The WHO said further research was necessary. The new guidance came days after 239 scientists published a letter urging the WHO to take a closer look at possible airborne transmission of the virus. [CNBC]


New York City paints 'Black Lives Matter' in front of Trump Tower

New York City on Thursday painted "Black Lives Matter" in huge yellow letters on Fifth Avenue, directly outside of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. President Trump slammed city officials earlier this month after they announced plans for the mural, tweeting that it would be a "symbol of hate" on "New York's greatest street." New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who authorized the project earlier this month, painted part of it along with civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton. "President Trump said we would be denigrating the luxury of Fifth Avenue," de Blasio said. "Let me tell you: We're not denigrating anything, we are liberating Fifth Avenue, we are uplifting Fifth Avenue." [CNN]


Supreme Court rules nearly half of Oklahoma is on tribal land

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that nearly half of the state of Oklahoma is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a Westerner who has backed Native American tribes in previous cases, sided with the court's four liberal members in ruling that Congress had granted the Creek a reservation, so the United States must honor that commitment. The decision marked one of the biggest legal victories for Native Americans in years. The case involved a criminal conviction in state court of a Seminole man convicted of sex crimes. The man argued he could only be prosecuted in federal court, rather than by state or local law enforcement, because the offenses occurred within the reservation's historical boundaries. Chief Justice John Roberts said in a dissenting opinion that the ruling would destabilize the criminal justice system in the state. [The New York Times]


Seoul mayor found dead after being reported missing

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon was found dead early Friday local time at Mt. Bugak in the northern part of South Korea's capital city, police said. Park's daughter had reported him missing and said he had left a message that read "like a will." Park's body was found near where his cell phone signal had last been detected. Police did not immediately say how he died, but they said there was no sign of foul play. The Yonhap news agency reported that Park had been accused of sexual harassment by a former secretary. The complaint was filed Wednesday. Police official Choi Ik-soo said there was an investigation underway involving Park. The mayor, who was the longtime leader of a city of 10 million, was among South Korea's most influential politicians and had been considered a possible presidential hopeful for liberals in 2022. [Reuters]


GOP lawmakers discuss narrowing eligibility for second relief checks

The White House and congressional Republicans are considering restricting the next round of coronavirus relief checks to hold down the cost of the stimulus package. Congress in March approved $1,200 payments to individuals, with the benefit shrinking or disappearing for those who made more than $75,000 in 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that the next payments should target those earning less than $40,000, although it wasn't immediately clear if he was proposing that as a cap. Some conservatives have argued against sending out a second round of checks at all. [The Washington Post]


Weekly unemployment claims drop but remain above 1 million

The number of Americans who filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week dropped by 99,000 to 1.3 million, a four-month low. Economists said the bigger-than-expected drop might have been partially due to the three-day Fourth of July weekend, because claims data is often volatile around holidays. "Don't be fooled, the economy's troubles aren't over yet, not by a long shot," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. Weekly jobless claims have fallen sharply since peaking at a historic 6.9 million in late March, but economists warn that hiring could sputter as coronavirus cases surge and many states halt or roll back their plans to let businesses reopen. [Reuters]


Starbucks requires customers to wear masks

Starbucks announced Thursday that it would require customers in its company-operated coffee cafés in the United States to wear masks starting July 15. The policy is intended to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection as COVID-19 cases spike in the U.S. The company said it was "prioritizing the health and well-being of partners (employees) and customers" despite resistance to wearing masks by many Americans. In some states and cities, authorities have made masks mandatory in places where social distancing is impossible, such as enclosed restaurants and stores. "It is our responsibility to protect our partners and comply with local public health mandates," the company said. "As such, our partners have the right and responsibility to refuse service to customers who are not wearing facial coverings." [Yahoo Finance]


California suing Trump administration over student visa policy

California is suing the Trump administration over its decision to send home international students enrolled in colleges that decide to offer only online classes this fall due to the coronavirus crisis, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday. The lawsuit, the first filed by a state over the policy, asks the U.S. District Court for Northern California for a preliminary injunction to block the administration from enforcing the new visa policy. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said earlier in the week that students on F-1 and M-1 visas at schools that don't offer in-person classes have to leave or transfer to a school that does, because the visas are not intended for students attending online classes only. Becerra called the policy "morally reprehensible," saying it forced students to choose between infection and deportation. [NBC News, CNN]