with Mariana Alfaro

Lady Justice is not blind in Bill Barr’s Justice Department. That is the central takeaway from sworn testimony submitted ahead of a congressional hearing this afternoon by star federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who is speaking out publicly for the first time about the attorney general’s hands-on intervention to scale back the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime confidant and political consigliere.

Zelinsky plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee that Barr and his top deputies issued inappropriate orders “based on political considerations,” that prosecutors faced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break,” and that there was an expectation Stone should be treated “differently and more leniently” because of his “relationship with the president.”

A mountain of evidence shows that Stone briefed Trump and other senior campaign officials during the 2016 campaign on what he knew about plans by WikiLeaks to release damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The emails the group released had been hacked by Russian military intelligence. Stone was convicted by a federal jury on seven counts of lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Career prosecutors recommended that Stone serve between seven and nine years based on a number of aggravating factors, including threats to harm a witness who could incriminate him if he cooperated with authorities. “Prepare to die,” Stone messaged the witness, Randy Credico. Prosecutors concluded that Stone’s perjury also resulted in “substantial interference in the administration of justice,” and they said that he continued trying to obstruct justice after he was indicted.

After Trump tweeted that this recommendation was unfair, Barr directed the Justice Department to withdraw it. A new filing said three to four years was “more typical” in cases like Stone’s. In February, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months.

Stone was supposed to report to prison next Tuesday, on June 30, to begin serving his sentence. But his lawyers asked yesterday to postpone his surrender date until Sept. 3, citing the risk that the 67-year-old could contract the novel coronavirus. The Justice Department did not oppose this request. After losing a motion for a retrial in April, Stone is appealing his conviction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Zelinsky’s 4,600-word opening statement, which is worth reading in full, alleges that prosecutors were told “to water down and in some cases outright distort events that transpired in his trial, and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction” to justify a lighter sentencing request. Zelinsky refused and withdrew from the case, along with three other career prosecutors. He will testify that Trump appointee Tim Shea, a former top counselor to Barr who was acting U.S. attorney for D.C. at the time, agreed to give Stone “unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President.’”

The revelations about the internal machinations inside the Justice Department are especially notable as Trump has hinted strongly that he intends to pardon Stone before he goes to prison. The president tweeted earlier this month that Stone was the “victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt” and should “sleep well at night.”

Redacted portions of special counsel Bob Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that were released to the public last Friday night show that investigators considered the possibility that Trump lied to them under oath about his 2016 conversations about WikiLeaks. Multiple Trump campaign aides told investigators that the then-candidate had engaged in conversations about what information WikiLeaks might release. In his written answers to questions from Mueller, Trump said he did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. But multiple witnesses told Mueller’s team that they were present during such discussions.

“It is possible that, by the time the President submitted his written answers two years after the relevant events had occurred, he no longer had clear recollections of his discussions with Stone or his knowledge of Stone’s asserted communications with WikiLeaks,” the newly unsealed portions of the Mueller report say. “But the President’s conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the President’s denials and would link the President to Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks.”

The Yale-educated Zelinsky, who is in his late 30s, clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. As a special assistant at the State Department, he worked on cases involving Americans held hostage abroad. In 2014, he joined the Justice Department – working for then-Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. Zelinsky earned an award for Excellence in Prosecution of Organized Crime. Then Mueller tapped him to join the team of powerhouse lawyers he assembled as special counsel. That’s how Zelinsky got involved in the Stone prosecution. And he stayed with the case after Mueller stepped down. Now he’s returned to Baltimore, where he is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Maryland district.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Zelinsky never had any direct discussion about the sentencing with the attorney general, the U.S. attorney or other political appointees at the department. She said, as she has before, that Barr did not speak with Trump before the president tweeted about Stone’s sentencing. “Mr. Zelinksy’s allegations concerning the U.S. Attorney’s motivation are based on his own interpretation of events and hearsay (at best), not first-hand knowledge,” Kupec said in a statement. 

She added that Barr believed the initial sentencing recommendation was “excessive and inconsistent with similar cases,” and that this is why he got involved. “The Attorney General stated during his confirmation hearing that it his job to ensure that the administration of justice and the enforcement of the law is above and away from politics,” Kupec said. “He has and will continue to approach all cases at the Department of Justice with that commitment to the rule of law and the fair and impartial administration of justice.”

Barr’s record since taking over as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer last year belies this assertion. Just this weekend, Barr orchestrated the firing of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, who has prosecuted and continued to investigate members of Trump’s inner circle. Earlier this month, he was a party to the violent dispersal of largely peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square before standing beside the president during his Bible photo op. 

In May, Barr intervened to dismiss the guilty plea of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, for lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador. The D.C. Circuit ruled this morning that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan cannot scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of Flynn and must dismiss the case. In a 2-1 decision, the court said it is not within the judge’s power to prolong the prosecution or examine Barr's motives.

Last year, Barr offered a highly misleading summary of the Mueller report, in a way that was favorable to the president, before releasing the redacted version to the public. He refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a court challenge. He was held in contempt of Congress last year for defying a House subpoena. In fact, he has avoided testifying before the House Judiciary Committee since taking the job. And a U.S. attorney he appointed continues probe the conduct of Justice Department and FBI officials in the Russia probe, something Trump long sought.

In addition to Zelinsky, John Elias, who works in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, will testify at this afternoon’s committee hearing that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers because he “did not like the nature of their underlying business.” According to his prepared opening statement, his office launched 10 reviews of mergers in the marijuana industry as a result and was also ordered to probe a deal between automakers and California after Trump tweeted about the matter.

“Based on what I have seen, and what my colleagues saw and described to me, I was concerned enough to report certain antitrust investigations launched under Attorney General Barr to the Department of Justice inspector general,” Elias plans to say. “I asked him to investigate whether these matters constituted an abuse of authority, a gross waste of funds and gross mismanagement.”

The elections

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is trailing a primary challenger.

Many key races still lack calls because of the huge increase in mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic – which still need to be counted. But Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal who is African American and had the support of Bernie Sanders, took an early lead over the congressman, who was elected in 1988. In Kentucky, state legislator Charles Booker is locked in a too-close-to-call race with retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath, a star recruit of national Democrats, for the chance to wage a long-shot bid against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “A third African American candidate was leading in a seven-way primary to replace retiring Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.). If Mondaire Jones wins the seat, he’d be the first openly gay black man in Congress,” Colby Itkowitz, Joe DePaolo and Josh Wood report. “Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who heads the House Oversight Committee, held a narrow lead over Suraj Patel, a hotel executive and former Obama campaign staffer. The contest was a rematch from 2018 for the 14-term Maloney, who won it then by 19 points.” 

A 24-year-old won an upset over Trump's candidate to secure the GOP nod for Mark Meadows's seat. 

Madison Cawthorn, a 24-year-old motivational speaker, defeated Lynda Bennett, the Republican candidate endorsed by Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in a GOP runoff for the congressional North Carolina seat Meadows gave up to take his job, the Raleigh News and Observer reports. “Cawthorn will face Democrat Moe Davis in November’s general election. If elected, Cawthorn, who turns 25 before the election, would be the youngest member in the House … Bennett also received endorsements from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.” Cawthorn was going to go to the Naval Academy, and received a nomination from Meadows, but he couldn’t attend because a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.) beat a primary challenger, despite Trump saying he should be thrown out and calling him a “disaster for America” after he held up the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill by demanding a roll-call vote. (Fox News)

In Virginia, Cameron Webb, an African American doctor, won a four-way competition for the Democratic nomination to an open Congressional seat. “Webb, 37, easily defeated his three Democratic opponents and will face Bob Good, a self-described ‘biblical’ conservative, in the 5th District general election. Democratic enthusiasm about the race grew after GOP voters nominated the untested Good over Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a convention earlier this month [after he officiated a gay wedding], and analysts changed the race from ‘likely Republican’ to ‘leans Republican,’” Jenna Portnoy, Emily Davies and Antonio Olivo report. In Virginia’s only statewide contest, establishment favorite Daniel Gade won the Republican Senate primary and to challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) in the fall. Warner is heavily favored.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) landed a blowout win against primary challenge Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a CNBC contributor. Ocasio-Cortez vastly outraised all of her challengers, raising more than $10.5 million. (CNN)

Despite a poll worker crunch that led to long lines, Kentucky is poised to break primary turnout records.

“Michael G. Adams, Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, projected that total turnout would exceed 1 million, including roughly 800,000 mailed ballots. The final figure would shatter the previous record of 922,456 primary voters set in 2008,” Amy Gardner, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Elise Viebeck report. “In Louisville, dozens of voters outside the Kentucky Exposition Center, the city’s sole voting location, were temporarily locked out when the polls closed at 6 p.m. Videos circulated on social media of people gathered outside the doors, knocking and asking to be let in. … Both the Booker and McGrath campaigns filed petitions with the court seeking an extension of voting hours. Shortly after the doors were locked, a judge issued an injunction ordering election officials to keep the site open until 6:30 p.m., triggering a rush of people into the building.”

Trump visited the border wall in Arizona to tout what he views as a reelection accomplishment. 

“Trump, who has increasingly focused on immigration during the novel coronavirus crisis, said he was marking the 200th mile of border wall erected since his election and reviving one of the most contentious issues of a first term now defined by more pressing challenges,” Anne Gearan, Nick Miroff and Toluse Olorunnipa report. “‘It’s never mentioned anymore — the wall is never mentioned anymore,’ Trump said during a roundtable in Yuma. … While visiting the border, Trump put his signature on a plaque attached to the barrier. … Neither Trump nor his aides wore masks during the visit, which included the border tour and a speech before a crowd of young supporters in Phoenix. … Arizona doctors raised alarms about the gathering, which occurred as many of the coronavirus patients filling hospitals have been younger.”

The Trump family is trying to block Mary Trump’s tell-all book, which is slated for publication on July 28. In a petition to get a temporary restraining order to block publication, Robert Trump, the president’s brother, said that Mary Trump signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of a settlement related to the inheritance fight that she “would not publish any account” of her relationship with Donald Trump or his siblings. Her attorney responded that the petition should be tossed out. (Michael Kranish)

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is being vetted as part of Joe Biden’s search for a running mate. (Sean Sullivan

Dozens of former Republican national security officials will endorse Biden in the coming weeks. “It includes at least two dozen officials who served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, with dozens more in talks to join,” Reuters reports.

Biden leads Trump by 14 points in a fresh New York Times-Siena College poll, 50 percent to 36 percent. Women and young people favor Biden by an even wider margin than they did Hilary Clinton in 2016. He’s also drawing even with Trump among male voters, white voters and seniors.

Barack Obama implored Americans to feel a “sense of urgency” about defeating Trump. 

“Obama was the main draw at a virtual fundraiser for Biden, raising more than $7.6 million from 175,000 individual donors, according to Biden’s campaign. The campaign collected another $3.4 million at a separate event held for high-dollar donors,” Matt Viser reports. “Obama launched into an in-depth criticism of Trump, without mentioning him by name, and said that while his own administration inherited problems, ‘the foundation stones, the institutions we had in place, were still more or less intact.’"

Quote of the day

“What we have seen over the last couple of years is a White House enabled by Republicans in Congress and a media structure that supports them," Obama said, "that suggests facts don’t matter … that suggests that a deadly disease is fake news, that sees the Justice Department as simply an extension and an arm of the personal concerns of the president, that actively promotes division and considers some people in this country more real as Americans than others.”

The coronavirus

Major League Baseball will return in July!

“Spring” training camps will resume on July 1, and Opening Day will take place on July 23 or 24, four months behind schedule. “The season will be 60 games, by far the shortest in the sport’s modern history, followed by a postseason,” Dave Sheinin reports. “Unlike other sports, baseball is aiming to play this season with teams in their home cities, as opposed to a one-site, quarantined ‘bubble.’ As players begin arriving to camps this week — all of which will be held at teams’ home cities, as opposed to spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida — they will be tested for the coronavirus before being allowed to enter, the first of many tests each player and staff member will be subjected to.

Teams will be aligned geographically to reduce travel, and while MLB has yet to release a master schedule for the 2020 season, each team reportedly will play 40 games within their own division and 20 against teams from the corresponding division in the other league. Thus, the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals would play 10 games each against division rivals Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and the New York Mets, and four each against AL East teams Baltimore, Boston, the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay and Toronto. It will be a season unlike any in the sport’s history, featuring, among other wrinkles, a designated hitter in the National League for the first time, and probably extra innings that begin with a runner on second base. The season will also be played, by necessity, without fans in ballparks, at least initially. …

Several states across the Sun Belt, home to more than a third of MLB teams, have seen their case numbers spike in recent weeks. Already, the Philadelphia Phillies have confirmed an outbreak stemming from their spring headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., in which at least seven players and five staff members have tested positive — one of several developments that prompted MLB to shutter all spring training facilities last week. And Tuesday night, within minutes of MLB’s announcement of a deal to start the season, the Denver Post reported three members of the Colorado Rockies, including all-star outfielder Charlie Blackmon, had tested positive. … 

Players will earn 37 percent of their original 2020 salaries if the season reaches its full 60 games. MLB had already consented to give high-risk players who opt out their full pay and service time, but in one of the final issues the sides resolved Tuesday, the union reportedly secured the same benefits for players who live with someone, including a pregnant spouse, who is deemed high-risk. This would apply not only to players who have family members with medical conditions — such as Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, whose wife, Eireann Dolan, has asthma — but also players whose wives are due to give birth this summer, a group that includes Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole.”

  • Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic tested positive, as the NBA entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan. The Arizona Republic reported that two unidentified members of the Phoenix Suns also tested positive. Other teams don’t expect to have test results until Wednesday. (Ben Golliver)
  • Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in tennis, apologized after testing positive for the virus. Players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all revealed they had coronavirus after playing at Djokovic's Adria Tour competition. Djovik, an anti-vaxxer, acknowledged that it was “too soon” to stage the tournament and said he was “deeply sorry” it has “caused harm.” (BBC)
Asked on June 23 whether he was kidding about slowing coronavirus testing to lower the number of cases, President Trump said, “I don’t kid.” (The Washington Post)
Tony Fauci and other top health officials warned of a covid-19 surge during congressional testimony.

“Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the country is still in the grip of the pandemic’s first wave, including a ‘disturbing surge’ of new cases in Southern and Western states, including Florida, Texas and Arizona,” John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Lena Sun and Laurie McGinley report. “Arizona reported record-high new coronavirus cases, and both Texas and Arizona reported record hospitalizations. … On Tuesday, the United States recorded 33,730 new cases, the highest total since April 25. At least 119,000 deaths had been reported in the nation … All four health officials testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee denied they had ever been directed to reduce testing after Trump told rally goers in Tulsa that he had charged officials to ‘slow the testing down.’ White House officials have insisted Trump was speaking in jest. Yet on Tuesday, Trump undercut that defense, telling reporters, ‘I don’t kid.’ … Fauci implored the public — but especially younger people — to wear masks when out in public. … Fauci was upbeat on one front: He told lawmakers he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a vaccine would be available by the end of the year, or in early 2021, based on early clinical data.”

  • The Trump administration is planning on pulling support for local coronavirus testing sites – including seven in Texas, where cases are rocketing. “Texas officials are urging the White House to rethink the move, warning of ‘catastrophic cascading consequences’ of pulling federal support for testing sites,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
  • Mississippi chief health officer Thomas Dobbs warned that “it’s going to get worse” because little has been done to enforce coronavirus restrictions in his state. “Prepare for not being able to get into the hospital if you have a car wreck," he said, or to “have a heart attack and there not be a ventilator to put you on.” (Katie Shepherd)
  • Debbie Birx privately urged governors to increase testing. In a weekly call with governors, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said states need to enhance testing of Hispanic communities and nursing home workers. She also said they're seeing a worrisome spike in new cases among people ages 18 to 35. (Daily Beast)
  • Virginia plans on moving to Phase 3 on July 1. Northern Virginia leaders said Tuesday they are largely on board with Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to move into Phase 3, despite the region’s higher rates of infection. This means child-care centers will be allowed to reopen, and the cap on social gatherings will rise to 250. Restaurants and nonessential businesses will be able to operate at full capacity. (Laura Vozzella and Antonio Olivo)
  • The Kennedy Center canceled most of its schedule through 2020, including its signature Kennedy Center Honors and Mark Twain Prize. The cancellations and postponements will cost the arts center $45.7 million in revenue. (Peggy McGlone)
Nations around the world that had seen infections decline are scrambling to contain flare-ups.

“Spikes in confirmed case numbers have alarmed officials, and sent Australia, Germany, Portugal and South Korea, among other countries, scrambling to respond to resurgent outbreaks,” Rick Noack reports. “German authorities said Tuesday they would impose a new regional lockdown in a district of the country’s northwest to contain an outbreak linked to a meat-processing plant, after more than 1,500 workers were infected. Portugal cracked down on mass gatherings. Australia’s Victoria state re-shuttered several schools. An area in the northeast of Spain reintroduced restrictions."

  • The European Union plans to blacklist American travelers. The bloc is lumping the U.S. with countries such as Brazil and Russia because the U.S. “has failed to control the scourge." Visitors from other countries, including China, would be allowed to enter the region, the Times reports.
  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who tested positive for the virus, is in “delicate” condition and being treated at a hospital with oxygen, a military doctor said. (Teo Armus)
  • After Chile's president celebrated his success against the virus, infections soared. “Chile has now reported more than 250,000 cases of the coronavirus, seventh in the world, and 4,500 deaths,” John Bartlett reports.
  • Sixteen top British health experts warned that the country is headed to a second wave. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced broad changes to social-distancing rules, reducing the guideline for staying apart from two meters to one meter and giving the green light for pubs, hairdressers, restaurants and hotels to reopen on July 4. (Jennifer Hassan)
  • China said it has conducted 90 million nucleic acid coronavirus tests since the pandemic began. After an outbreak scare in the last two weeks, Beijing had tested 2.3 million people. (Gerry Shih and Rick Noack)

America's racial reckoning

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) slammed Democrats on June 23 for refusing to allow the Senate to start the floor debate on his policing bill. (The Washington Post)
The Senate is teetering on the cusp of failure in its push for police reform because Republicans won't negotiate.

“The Senate GOP plan incorporates a number of Democratic proposals, such as legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime … But there has been no attempt to negotiate the differences between the Democratic and Republican visions for policing bills, with the two parties disagreeing about the extent of a federal mandate to alter practices at the thousands of local police departments nationwide,” Seung Min Kim and Holly Bailey report. "That difference in fundamental philosophies is apparent on one major issue: whether to explicitly ban no-knock warrants, issued by a judge who allows officers to enter a residence without being announced."

The stalemate stands in contrast to the states. More than 250 policing-related bills have been introduced in 26 states since George Floyd’s death. In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a law restricting the use of chokeholds and preventing police officers who have been fired for misconduct from being hired elsewhere in the state. Colorado banned chokeholds and issued new mandates on the use of body cameras. Efforts stalled in Minnesota when Republicans abruptly adjourned a special session of the state legislature when they could not reach a deal with Democrats.

Congressional Republicans launched a fresh round of attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) said that those aligned with the movement are “at war” with “western culture." Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), warming up a crowd in Phoenix before Trump spoke, said: “They want to replace and destroy our great nation.” (Michael Brice-Saddler)

Black Americans are optimistic about change following the nationwide protests, a Post-Ipsos poll finds.

“While a majority of Americans across all racial groups report feeling sad, angry and troubled by Floyd’s killing, black people perceive the country’s police forces as far more racially biased than white people do, the poll finds. More than half of black adults say they or someone they know had an unfair interaction with police in the past few years. More than a third say there was an occasion when they feared being hurt by a police officer — much higher than the shares of white and Hispanic Americans reporting the same experiences,” Cleve Wootson Jr., Scott Clement and Emily Guskin report. More than 80 percent of black adults say most white Americans don’t understand the level of discrimination black Americans face in everyday life. “About half of white Americans say police are generally more likely to use deadly force against black people than white adults, while two-thirds of Hispanics and more than 9 in 10 black Americans say the same.”

Tensions between D.C. and Trump flared up, as the president threatened again to use federal force.

“An attempt by activists to create an ‘autonomous zone’ outside the White House has reignited tensions between Trump and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser about who controls D.C. streets,” Julie Zauzmer and Fenit Nirappil report. “The president, who has been increasingly critical of the mayor, is demanding aggressive action to remove the ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’ and has already demonstrated he is willing to deploy military and take extraordinary steps to quell civil unrest. Activists and liberal D.C. Council members, meanwhile, are urging Bowser … to show restraint, even as protesters try to take down statues in the city and refuse to leave the street. More than 100 police officers and a trash truck moved people and tents Tuesday from the autonomous zone, which is modeled after Seattle’s ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,’ where the city had withdrawn police forces and allowed protesters to camp out. … On Monday night, D.C. officers donned riot gear and deployed pepper spray against demonstrators who, police say, assaulted officers. Trump tweeted Tuesday: ‘There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!’ The mayor declined to comment on the president’s tweet, but her office said she wanted to keep the plaza safe for demonstrators.”

  • Twitter slapped a warning label on Trump’s “serious force” tweet. The company said the tweet violates its policy prohibiting abusive behavior and specifically “the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.” (Rachel Lerman)
  • The FBI said NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime after completing its investigation into an incident involving a noose in Wallace’s garage stall. The bureau said no federal charges would be filed after it determined that the noose had been there since at least October 2019 and that “nobody could have known” that Wallace’s team would be assigned to that stall. (Liz Clarke
  • TV host Jimmy Kimmel apologized for his past use of blackface in the 1990s. (Sonia Rao and Emily Yahr
  • The NYPD will form an illegal fireworks task force, which will involve 40 officers conducting undercover buys and sting operations that target people selling fireworks in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. (BuzzFeed News)
  • The Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City won’t be canceled but instead will be broken down into “surprise” performances scattered around the city for a week starting Monday, which is amusing given de Blasio’s crackdown. (Teo Armus)
The Confederate flag still flies above the Mississippi statehouse, imprinted on the state flag.

“Pressure has mounted on state leaders this month to ditch the divisive symbol, and on Tuesday, both Walmart and the state’s largest Baptist group added their voices to that mix,” Tim Elfrink reports. “The retail giant announced that it would no longer display the Mississippi flag in its stores, while the Mississippi Baptist Convention, which represents more than half a million churchgoers, urged state leaders to adopt a new flag. … It’s unclear whether the state’s Republican-dominated state legislature will do so. On Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) rejected an early proposal from legislators to create a second, alternate state flag, derisively calling it ‘the ‘Separate but Equal’ flag option.’”

Wisconsin State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) was attacked by protesters on his way to the state Capitol in Madison as protests escalated following the arrest of a black activist earlier in the day. Carpenter said he may have a concussion and fractured nose in addition to a bruised eye and sore ribs and back. “This has got to stop before someone gets killed,” he wrote. “Sad thing I’m on their side for peaceful demonstrations -- am a Gay Progressive Dem Senator served 36 years in the legislature.” The protesters also pulled down two statues that stood outside the statehouse, including one of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and abolitionist who died fighting for the Union during the Civil War. (Allyson Chiu)

A Hispanic mother claims a white woman deliberately coughed on her baby during a racially charged spat over social distancing in a San Jose, Calif., yogurt shop. Authorities say they’re searching for the woman and have classified the incident as an assault. Police said the heated exchange was triggered after the woman became upset with the mother, Mireya Mora, who was behind her in line at the Yogurtland, claiming she was not properly social distancing. An employee said Mora was following the rules, and Mora said the woman “did not start harassing me and my family until I started speaking Spanish to my grandmother.” (Allyson Chiu

Geico quietly took down an ad referencing a Civil War massacre of black soldiers. “The spot hawking homeowners insurance featured a woman talking about building a fort of pillows in her house, a normally innocuous description until she glibly dubbed it ‘Fort Pillow,’” Hannah Denham reports. Historian Bob O’Connor explained that, in 1864, “Confederate troops massacred around 300, mostly black, Union soldiers after they had lifted their hands in surrender at Fort Pillow outside of Memphis. O’Connor said the attack was led by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest — who went on to become the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan — and was motivated by the Confederate’s outrage that the North had enlisted black soldiers.”

Tamir Rice would have turned 18 tomorrow.

USA Today interviewed 18-year-olds about what it's like to grow up black in America. Six years ago, they saw 12-year-old Rice fatally shot by a police officer while playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. “I shouldn't have to fear for my life just because of the way I look,” said Savion Briggs, an activist who’s been organizing protests against police brutality in Louisville. At age 14, he was chased by officers from a narcotics unit who stopped him as he was on his way home from playing basketball with friends. Now, Briggs is thinking of pursuing a career in teaching or criminal justice. He wants to show other young black people how to have "pride in our skin color and that we can actually become something great."

Social media speed read

Protesters in Madison, Wis., brought down the statue of an abolitionist:

The president once again used a racially insensitive term to refer to the coronavirus that his own advisers previously denied he ever said:

A GOP strategist and former top aide to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) warned people not to forget the purge of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York:

And some nice perspective as baseball returns:

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert is worried about what a Trump rally might mean for Arizona’s growing covid-19 crisis:

Trevor Noah talked about some of the things black people go through in corporate America: