June 29, 2020

A clandestine unit of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency paid cash bounties to Afghan militants linked to the Taliban for killing U.S. and allied troops in the country, The New York Times reported Friday, adding that Trump was briefed on the Russian operation in March. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Associated Press confirmed the classified intelligence assessment on Saturday, and the Post and the Times reported Sunday that U.S. officials believe the bounties resulted in U.S. service members being killed.

The White House reportedly considered several responses but has taken no action — in fact, Trump has since invited Russia back into the G-7 and announced a drawdown of U.S. forces in Germany, both actions welcome in Moscow. The White House said Trump was not briefed on the intelligence assessment — which raised questions of its own — and Trump elaborated in tweet Sunday night, claiming "intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me" or Vice President Mike Pence.

Among those who do not believe Trump has refrained from acting because he was kept in the dark is the anti-Trump Republican group the Lincoln Project, which churned out another brutal ad on Saturday. "When Trump tells you he stands by the troops, he's right — just not our troops," the ad concludes.

The fact that the Russian bounty operation was reported in all major national newspapers "doesn't mean it's certainly true," David Frum noted. "But it does mean that very credible people in U.S. intelligence service are angry and alarmed. Angry and alarmed enough to provide evidence to three leading media sources." It's possible, he conceded, that Trump and other officials "are telling a version of the truth — that the information was withheld from Trump by briefers who have learned not to upset him" with negative intelligence on Russia. Peter Weber

11:25 a.m.

President Trump's taxes are safe from Congress for now, but not forever.

In a 7-2 decision in Trump v. Mazars issued Thursday, the Supreme Court didn't unilaterally say the House's subpoenas for President Trump's financial records were invalid. But it decided lower courts didn't look closely enough at the subpoenas and the separation of powers issues they entailed, sending the case back to those courts. That means a final decision on whether Congress can see those records will likely be delayed until after the November election.

Trump's appointees and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberal wing for the decision regarding the House subpoenas. The same group ruled in favor of the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in Vance v. Trump, allowing the prosecutor to access Trump's financial records for a grand jury case against him. Trump's legal team requested "temporary presidential immunity" from the records request while Trump is in office. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:54 a.m.

President Trump can't block a subpoena for his financial records from a New York prosecutor, the Supreme Court has ruled.

In a 7-2 decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. can see financial records from Trump's accounting firm, The Washington Post reports. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who Trump nominated to the Supreme Court, sided with the majority, while Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, per CBS News.

"The president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Prosecutors in New York had subpoenaed eight years of the president's personal and business tax records as part of an investigation into hush money payments made to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump. Trump's legal team requested "temporary presidential immunity" while Trump is in office.

Vance in a statement celebrated the Supreme Court's ruling, saying it's a "tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law." Brendan Morrow

10:35 a.m.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the court's liberals — and delivered a powerful decision — in a case over whether Native Americans can be prosecuted by states.

The court ruled 5-4 Wednesday in favor of the Creek Nation against the state of Oklahoma, saying they and other Native Americans cannot be tried in a state court for "major crimes committed in Indian country." Gorsuch wrote the court's majority opinion, channeling the history of how the Creek Nation was forced along the Trail of Tears to their current tribal lands and declaring that land was set to be "secure forever." Kathryn Krawczyk

9:40 a.m.

Italy has hit an incredible milestone in its fight against COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy has no more COVID-19 cases in its ICU ward, Italy's wire service ANSA reports. It's the first time the hospital can say that since it admitted its first coronavirus case on Feb. 23, 137 days ago.

Bergamo is at the center of Italy's Lombardy region, which was one of the earliest and hardest hit areas in the coronavirus pandemic. Italy at one point had the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, and Lombardy led that count, ABC News notes. Nearly 35,000 people have died in Italy due to COVID-19, giving it the fourth highest death toll of any country.

Meanwhile the U.S. has taken over as the coronavirus capital of the world, and shows no sign of slowing down. Where Italy announced 193 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the U.S. reported a record 62,751 — and proportional differences between the two countries' populations don't explain away that yawning gap. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:37 a.m.

Another 1.31 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

This number of new claims was less than economists expected, as experts were projecting there would be about 1.39 million claims, CNBC reports. Last week, the number of new jobless claims was a bit more than economists expected, topping 1.4 million. This news on Thursday somewhat lessened "concerns of a renewed downturn in the labor market," Bloomberg writes.

Additionally, continuing unemployment claims on Thursday fell "sharply," CNBC reports, declining by 698,000 to 18.06 million. Still, CNBC notes that this is the 15th week in a row that new initial unemployment claims have topped one million; before the coronavirus pandemic, the record for most claims filed in a week was 695,000.

These new numbers come after last week, the Labor Department released a better-than-expected jobs report for June, which showed 4.8 million jobs were added and the unemployment rate declined to 11.1 percent. Experts were quick to note, though, that this unemployment survey was taken in June prior to COVID-19 cases surging in numerous states. Brendan Morrow

8:04 a.m.

The total number of U.S. coronavirus cases reached 3 million on Wednesday as officials confirmed a record 60,000-plus new cases over the previous 24 hours, and the national death toll rose above 132,000. States in the South and West continued to report spiking new infections. California and Texas both reported more than 10,000 new cases on Wednesday. U.S. deaths, which had been trending downward, rose by more than 900 for the second straight day, the highest level since early June, Reuters reports. Hospitalizations also have increased in the states where infections have jumped, including Florida, where 56 intensive care units this week reached capacity, and Arizona, where ICUs are rapidly filling up, too. Infections have risen in 42 of the 50 states over the past two weeks, according to Reuters. Harold Maass

8:04 a.m.

A "massive search operation" is underway for the mayor of Seoul, who has been reported missing, The Associated Press reports.

South Korean police on Thursday said they're searching for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon after he was reported missing by his daughter, according to Reuters. She says Park left "a will-like" message before he left their home, and she called police after not being able to reach him on his phone, which officials say is turned off, the AP reports. A signal from Park's phone was reportedly last detected in Sungbuk.

A government official confirmed to the AP that Park, who was elected mayor of South Korea's capital in 2011, didn't come to work on Thursday and canceled his schedules. Police say the search operation for Park consists of 150 officers, as well as a drone and a police dog. Brendan Morrow

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