January 17, 2020

The Harvey Weinstein trial officially has its jury.

Jury selection in the trial of the disgraced film producer ended Friday with seven men and five women set to serve, Variety reports. Three alternates, one man and two women, were also selected.

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi during jury selection accused the defense and trying to "systematically exclude" young white women, The Hollywood Reporter writes. "They have eliminated every single white woman from this prospective jury panel," Illuzzi said, Variety reports.

The defense, in turn, accused the prosecution of trying to exclude men from the jury, but the Reporter writes Judge James Burke didn't accept either argument. The defense reportedly said it didn't seek to exclude young women but that, as The Associated Press writes, they "didn't want jurors who were too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s."

The defense objected to one particular juror, a woman who wrote a forthcoming novel whose plot has to do with "predatory older men," Deadline reports. The judge ultimately said the woman could serve on the jury and denied the defense's subsequent request for a mistrial.

Weinstein is facing rape and sexual assault charges, which he has pleaded not guilty to. Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin on Jan. 22. Brendan Morrow

8:29 p.m.

President Trump on Tuesday said he wants "every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead," as the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread across the United States.

Trump's tone has shifted dramatically from earlier this month, when he said the United States would be back open for business by Easter on April 12. During the evening press conference, Trump said the next two weeks will be "painful" and "very tough," and called the pandemic a "great national trial unlike anything we have ever faced before."

Health officials also presented slides showing epidemiological models and how social distancing measures can help slow the spread of coronavirus. In a worst case scenario, even if guidelines are followed, up to 240,000 Americans could still die. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that it's important to "brace ourselves," but noted that officials are "continuing to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work." Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, reminded Americans to follow government guidelines and not gather in groups of 10 or more, avoid unnecessary travel, and stay away from restaurants and bars. 


As of Tuesday night, there are 183,532 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, and at least 3,727 people have died from the virus. Catherine Garcia

6:56 p.m.

In a four-page memo sent to the Navy on Monday, USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier asked for help stopping the spread of coronavirus on the aircraft carrier.

"We are not at war," he said. "Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors."

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked in Guam, and a defense official told CBS News that as of Tuesday morning, there are at least 70 people on the carrier who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Crozier wrote that of the 33 sailors to first test positive for COVID-19, seven initially tested negative, and were then returned to quarantine areas where they were housed with other sailors. "Decisive action is required now," Crozier said, in order to "prevent tragic outcomes."

Because the sailors are in close quarters, they can't practice safe social distancing, and "the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating," Crozier said. There are about 4,000 crew members on board, and Crozier proposed having 90 percent leave the ship and immediately go into 14-day individual quarantines. The other 10 percent would stay and thoroughly clean the carrier and run the reactor. This, Crozier said, is a "necessary risk." Catherine Garcia

5:32 p.m.

Chris Meloni's Elliot Stabler is reportedly making a remarkable reappearance after his retirement nearly a decade ago.

Meloni will reprise his role as the NYPD detective in his own Law & Order: SVU spinoff show, Deadline reports. NBC has already ordered 13 episodes of the show, and it's likely to be branded as part of Dick Wolf's Law & Order universe.

Wolf, the mastermind behind the rest of the Law & Order shows and spinoffs, will executive produce the show alongside Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski — they both have a long history working with Wolf Entertainment. Universal will produce the series, as it's reportedly part of the five-year, nine-figure deal the studio inked with Wolf to produce multiple series across NBCUniversal's platforms, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In this series, Stabler, who was written off the show after its 12th season, will be heading an organized crime unit within the NYPD, Variety reports. That leaves the door open for "potential seamless crossovers" with SVU and the other Law & Order shows, including a possible reunion with Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:05 p.m.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason when it comes to the federal government fulfilling state's requests for medical supplies to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reports.

For instance, Oklahoma has reportedly received 120,000 face shields despite only requesting 16,000. North Carolina, meanwhile, wound up on the other end of the spectrum — after reportedly requesting 500,000 medical coveralls, only 306 showed up, state records show.

Despite President Trump's comments about wanting governors to show him appreciation when making their requests, the Post notes there's no evidence the White House is favoring Republicans. Indeed, Trump has talked up his cooperation with some Democratic governors, while GOP-led states like Georgia has reportedly struggled to fill its requests. Democratic aides have said the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency return calls promptly and always agree to consider requests.

Still, one White House officials told the Post on condition of anonymity that Trump isn't completely ignoring politics, at least in one swing state that could play a major role in the 2020 election. Florida, whose Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gets along swimmingly with Trump, has had all of its requests received so far. "He pays close attention to what Florida wants," the official said. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

4:50 p.m.

Almost 30 students who recently traveled to Mexico for spring break have tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday announced an investigation into a "cluster" of COVID-19 cases among a group of roughly 70 people in their 20s who traveled in a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for spring break about a week-and-a-half ago amid the coronavirus crisis.

"Currently, 28 young adults on this trip have tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens more are under public health investigation," the Austin Public Health Department said. "Four of the confirmed cases did not present any symptoms."

The 28 people who tested positive are currently self-isolating, and more are being monitored while quarantined, according to the statement. The University of Texas at Austin told NBC News that the 28 young adults with COVID-19 are students at the school. Some individuals who went on the trip came back home on commercial flights, according to the Austin Public Health Department's statement.

Austin officials said that although Mexico wasn't under a federal travel advisory when the young adults traveled there, "Austin-Travis County residents should follow CDC's travel recommendations indicating travelers avoid all non-essential international travel," and "a leisure vacation of any kind is not considered essential." The University of Texas at Austin told NBC that this serves as a "reminder of the vital importance" of following health officials' warnings amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brendan Morrow

4:44 p.m.

The major U.S. indexes weren't as volatile as they've been recently by the time markets closed Tuesday, but stocks still capped off their worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 finished the quarter down 20 percent, its largest decline since 2008, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 23 percent. You'd have to go back to 1987 and the Black Monday era to find a lower point for the index. The downturn, unsurprisingly, was global in scope — Stoxx Europe 600 had its biggest quarterly drop since 2002, and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell to 2008 levels, as well.

Analysts are hoping the long-term consequences more closely resemble 1987, which allowed for a quicker recovery. Still, Shawn Snyder, the head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management, told The Wall Street Journal "we're really in unprecedented territory" where "there's still a huge amount of uncertainty." Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

4:31 p.m.

The Defense Production Act isn't the rarely used, last-resort power President Trump has made it out to be.

Trump officially invoked the Korean War-era mandate on Friday to compel General Motors to make ventilators to address a nationwide shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But for more than a week beforehand, Trump acted like invoking the DPA to force production of government necessities was a big deal and held out on doing so — even though he'd used it "hundreds of thousands of times" throughout his presidency, The New York Times reports.

While he originally signed the DPA in mid-March, Trump clarified in a follow-up tweet that he would only "invoke it in a worst case scenario." A week after that, Trump tweeted that "we haven't had to use" the act "because no one has said no!" Companies had already switched their production lines to make direly needed masks, Trump said, though lawmakers continued to push him to invoke the DPA until he did last week.

But reports submitted to Congress and interviews with former government officials show using the DPA was nothing new for Trump, per the Times. The Defense Department has reportedly used it over 300,000 times each year, including to obtain "rare Earth metals" to build lasers last summer. It all led Larry Hall, the recently retired director of the DPA program division at FEMA, to question "What's more important? Building an aircraft carrier or a frigate using priority ratings or saving a hundred thousand lives using priorities for ventilators?"

Still, Trump hasn't used the DPA on a company other than GM despite the fact the General Electric employees walked off the job to demand they make ventilators on Monday. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

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