10 things you need to know today: July 2, 2021
Trump Organization and CFO are charged with tax crimes, Supreme Court upholds Arizona voting restrictions, and more
Trump Organization and CFO charged with tax crimes
The Manhattan district attorney's office on Thursday charged the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, with tax crimes following a three-year investigation. Former President Donald Trump's real estate company is accused of operating a 15-year scheme to compensate executives off the books to help them dodge taxes. Weisselberg, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of failing to pay taxes on $1.7 million in perks, such as apartments and cars, that he should have reported as income. "To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme," said Carey Dunne, general counsel for the Manhattan district attorney. The charges unsealed Thursday did not implicate Trump directly. Lawyers for Trump's company said it was being targeted for political reasons.
Supreme Court upholds Arizona voting restrictions
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Arizona voting restrictions that Democrats argued discriminated against minority voters. The court's 6-3 decision was split along ideological lines. Federal appeals courts had struck down the rules — which banned the collection of absentee ballots by anyone other than a relative or caregiver, and disallowed ballots cast in the wrong precinct — because of the unequal impact on minority voters. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the conservative majority, acknowledged that there was "some disparity in impact," but said it was relatively minor, so the state could enforce the restrictions. In an angry dissent by the court's liberal minority, Justice Elena Kagan accused the majority of "yet again" watering down the Voting Right Act, a law intended to "end of discrimination in voting."
Biden consoles families in visit to collapsed Florida condo site
President Biden on Thursday visited the site of the condominium tower that collapsed in Surfside, Florida, leaving at least 18 dead and 145 missing. Biden met with survivors and victims' families, first responders, and local and state leaders. Biden said the federal government would pay the cost of the disaster response. "There's going to be a lot of pain and suffering ... so we're not going anywhere," Biden said. "Tell me what you need." As Biden arrived, officials were forced to pause the search-and-rescue operation due to "structural concerns" about the section of the beachfront Champlain Towers South condo building that is still standing. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said authorities were doing "everything we can" to move forward with the search for victims and potential survivors "as soon as it's safe to do so."
Pelosi names Jan. 6 committee members, including Liz Cheney
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday named her eight appointees to the select committee the House voted to create to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. Pelosi selected seven Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has the right to name the other five members of the committee. "It is imperative that we find the truth of that day and ensure that such an assault on our Capitol and Democracy cannot ever again happen," Pelosi said. Cheney, who was ousted from her House GOP leadership role over her criticism of Trump's false claim that the election was stolen from him, said she was honored to be chosen to serve on the committee.
Boy Scouts reach $850 million sexual abuse settlement
The Boys Scouts of America has agreed to pay $850 million to settle a lawsuit that involves tens of thousands of people who say they were sexually abused while they were scouts. "This initial settlement of $850 million is the largest settlement of sexual abuse claims in United States history," Ken Rothweiler, a lawyer representing a group of survivors, said in a statement. The Boy Scouts more than doubled its initial offer to compensate survivors, paving the way for the potentially historic settlement. The organization filed for bankruptcy protection more than a year ago as it faced 275 abuse lawsuits. By the November 2020 deadline to do so, the number of people who stepped forward to say they were sexually abused rose to nearly 90,000.
U.S. military leaves Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan
The last U.S. troops left Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on Friday, CNN reported, citing a senior defense official. The U.S. military handed the base north of Kabul over to Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press. President Biden said in April that U.S. forces will be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, but the handover of Bagram Air Base to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force is the latest sign the pullout will essentially be complete much sooner, closer to July 4. Most of the 7,000 allied NATO troops have already quietly left the country, AP reports, citing announcements from several European countries. The handover came as peace talks stall and the Taliban seize territory in a military offensive.
Garland orders moratorium on federal executions
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday ordered a moratorium on federal executions and a Justice Department review of the death penalty. The move followed a decision by the Trump administration Justice Department to revive federal executions by lethal injection in 2019, using a one-drug protocol. The federal government then carried out 13 executions from July 2020 to January 2021. During his confirmation hearing, Garland said that exonerations of people wrongly convicted have given him "pause." He also noted that President Biden is strongly opposed to capital punishment. "A most terrible thing happens when someone is executed for a crime that they did not commit," Garland said.
Wildfire destroys Canadian town hit by record 121-degree heat
A wildfire that forced residents to flee the small town of Lytton in British Columbia continued to burn out of control on Thursday, fueled by three days of record high temperatures in Canada. The town's inhabitants were told to abandon their homes with just minutes' notice on Wednesday after a day when the temperature soared to a record high of 121.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The province's public safety minister, Mike Farnworth, said most of Lytton's homes and other buildings had been destroyed. "Our poor little town of Lytton is gone," Edith Loring-Kuhanga, an administrator at Stein Valley Nlakapamux school, said in a Facebook post. Some of the town's residents were unaccounted for after the rushed evacuation.
NFL fines Washington Football Team $10 million
The NFL on Thursday fined the Washington Football Team $10 million following an investigation into the club's workplace culture. Independent counsel Beth Wilkinson and her firm interviewed more than 150 people, mostly current and former team employees, and concluded that the workplace environment there was highly unprofessional, particularly regarding the treatment of women. The investigators found a culture of fear where bullying and intimidation were common, and numerous female employees said they had been subjected to sexual harassment and disrespect in the workplace. "I feel great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while working here," said Dan Snyder, the team's owner and co-CEO. "I'm truly sorry for that."
Princes William and Harry unveil Princess Diana statue
Princes William and Harry unveiled a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana, on Thursday, setting aside recent differences to recognize their mother's legacy on her 60th birthday. "Today, on what would have been our mother's 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength, and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better," the brothers said in a joint statement. "Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy." The statue, which shows Diana flanked by three children, was commissioned by the princes in 2017 as part of their effort to portray their mother as someone who related to people and modernized the monarchy, said historian Robert Lacey.