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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Supreme Court affirms abortion protections

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion protections on Monday, striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction that, if allowed to be implemented, could have made the state the first to be without a legal abortion provider since Roe v. Wade, CBS News reporter Kate Smith reports. The decision — with Chief Justice John Roberts concurring with the court’s four-member liberal minority — is the court’s first major abortion rights decision since two Trump appointees took the bench, delivering a major win to abortion rights supporters who’ve been concerned about the court’s new ideological makeup and how that would impact the future of abortion access. Thursday’s 138-page decision, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, found Louisiana’s restriction — which requires doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — violated precedent set in the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruling, a case that dealt with a nearly identical regulation in Texas.

The Trump campaign referred to today’s decision as “disappointing to say the least,” according to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. In a statement, deputy communications director Ali Pardo wrote in part, “Five unelected Supreme Court Justices decided to insert their political agenda in place of democratically determined policies. This case underscores the importance of re-electing President Trump, who has a record of appointing conservative judges, rather than Joe Biden, who will appoint radical, activist judges who will legislate from the courts.”

In a statement, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said the decision “reaffirmed that states cannot put in place laws that unduly burden a women’s right to make her own health care decisions with her doctor.” CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster reports that Biden said he plans to codify Roe v. Wade and that his Justice Department would work to stop state laws that “blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose.”

FROM THE CANDIDATES

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JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden’s campaign has released diversity statistics for his campaign, according to CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion and CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The Biden campaign says 35% of full time staffers are people of color and 36% of full time senior staff are people of color. The majority of both the overall full time staff (53%) and the full time senior staff (58%) are women. Senior staff includes people running departments, senior advisers, deputy campaign managers and senior consultants who spend most of their time on the campaign. The campaign did not release detailed statistics on its employees by race or ethnicity. 

The campaign is working with Inclusv, which works to ensure people of color are found at every level of politics. On Saturday, Biden was pressed about the diversity of his campaign during a town hall hosted by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote. “My administration is going to look like America. Not just my staff, the administration, from the vice president straight down through cabinet members to major players within the White House and the court,” Biden said. “It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.” According to a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, a majority of full time staff members (52%) and senior staff members (56%) are women. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports people of color represent just 25% of senior staff members across the campaign. According to the spokesperson, the percentage of persons of color serving as full time staff members is “not available.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly denied that President Trump was briefed on reported intelligence that Russian military intelligence offered cash payments to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops and coalition forces in Afghanistan, CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn reports.

“There was not a consensus among the intelligence community,” McEnany told reporters at Monday’s White House press briefing. “In fact, there were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.” McEnany was pressed on why Mr. Trump did not receive a briefing on the intelligence about the Russian operation, reported over the weekend by the New York Times and the Washington Post, and repeatedly told reporters the intelligence in question has not been verified. 

“This was not briefed up to the president because it was not, in fact, verified,” she said. National security council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement Sunday, “The veracity of the underlying allegations continues to be evaluated.” In an explosive report published Friday, the New York Times said U.S. intelligence officials concluded a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for the killing of coalition forces in Afghanistan. According to the Times report, Mr. Trump was briefed on the finding, and White House officials developed options for addressing the matter. The Washington Post subsequently reported the Russian operation Saturday, citing U.S. officials who said Trump administration leaders learned of the cash payments in recent months from U.S. intelligence agencies.

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On the campaign side, the president’s re-election team is suing the Pennsylvania Department of State and the boards of elections in all 67 counties for allegedly “hazardous, hurried, and illegal implementation of unmonitored mail-in voting” during the state’s June 2nd primary, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga.  Filed within federal court in Pittsburgh, Monday, the suit condemns Governor Tom Wolf’s order to extend the deadline for absentee voting in a handful of counties during Pennsylvania’s primary election. The case also alleges a handful of Pennsylvania counties broke state law by creating insecure ballot drop boxes for the primary elections, fell short of ensuring ballots were mailed to correct addresses, and enforces a too strict residency requirement for poll watchers. Today’s lawsuit comes as part of a $10 million legal investment by the Trump campaign in “protecting election integrity,” which aims to clamp down on state elections changes made in light of COVID-19. 

The RNC and California GOP sued California Governor Gavin Newsom in May, in an attempt to block his decision to send absentee ballots to voters for the general election. National and state committees have also filed lawsuits in Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin, among others, to block Democratic efforts to ease absentee ballot restrictions.

Meanwhile on a conference call with governors across the country, Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is a “better place than we were two months ago,” but added that recent progress does not minimize the developments occurring in the Sun Belt, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports. As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise and some states begin to roll back the reopening of their economies, Pence reassured governors that the federal government is ready to provide assistance. Dr. Deborah Birx, joining the call from New Mexico, said that Texas and Arizona are “significant hotspots” with increasing positivity in New Mexico, according to audio of the call obtained by CBS News Campaign Reporter Jack Turman. She also said they are monitoring slow upticks in Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin and Knoxville, Tennessee. 

“We would like to work with those mayors and governors to really deploy some new testing techniques…to really test large populations at the community level,” Birx said. “Although our mortality continues to decline week over week, we believe this week it will stabilize with the potential of going back up if we don’t intervene comprehensively now,” she added.” Significantly, Dr. Birx noted that this wave is different, noting many of the cases are individuals under the age of 40. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the message to young people needs to be that they are part of a dynamic to prevent the resurgence of COVID-19. Fauci added, “We don’t want to go back to shut down. We want to let the public health process be the vehicle to opening up, not the obstacle to opening up.” Fauci attributed Memorial Day celebrations, not seeing a jump in cases, and getting relaxed about their behavior, to contributing to the rise in cases in Texas. 

He says that just because a week goes by and they don’t see consequences, “that doesn’t mean there are not going to be consequences.” Pence told the nation’s governors that the national stockpile is now in a much better position than it was in March and added that in the next seven days the U.S. will have a stockpile of 50,000 ventilators. Pence shared the “encouraging news” that while they’ve seen a rise in positivity rates among younger age groups, “there have been states where we haven’t seen a precipitous rise of positivity rates among seniors.” 

Mr. Pence encouraged governors to motivate patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan pleaded with Pence to push for a compromise in Congress towards a new stimulus relief package. He told Pence that governors will have to take “drastic” actions that could result in millions of jobs cut if they don’t receive another $500 billion in funding for state and local governments. Pence said the president is in favor of that and the bill would be “given consideration” in Congress in mid-July. Pence also said the president would like to see a “payroll tax cut” and urged governors to advocate for that as well. 

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VEEPSTAKES

TAMMY DUCKWORTH

VoteVets, a liberal veterans’ group, released a video pushing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to select Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth as his running mate according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. The video highlighted Duckworth’s military background and suggested she can win over new voters. 

The narrator in the video says, “Tammy Duckworth opens doors to new voters, winning swing voters and sweeping to victory in the Midwest, the same year Trump was elected.” In an interview with MSNBC, Duckworth was asked if she is in the process of answering questions from Biden’s vice presidential vetting committee. “I mean, I answer questions all the time,” Duckworth answered. “So, at this point, the vetters, you know, they’ve got the whole process at the Biden camp. I’m not going to interfere with that.”

GRETCHEN WHITMER

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her support for more law enforcement reforms on Monday, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Whitmer said she wants to ban chokeholds and windpipe blockage, further limit the use of no-knock warrants and classify false, racially-motivated 911 calls as a hate crime. She’s also proposing providing incentives for law enforcement agencies to hire and retain officers who live in communities where they work. In addition she is calling for requiring independent investigations of all shootings and use of force incidents that result in the death of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement. 

“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said in a statement. Earlier this month Whitmer said she wants law enforcement agencies to implement “duty to intervene” policies when one officer observes another doing something inappropriate or illegal. She also voiced support for a bill that would require training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and mental health screenings.

LIFE AFTER 2020

ANDREW YANG

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang said in a Time100 Talks interview that he has had “general conversations” with Joe Biden about potentially joining a cabinet position in the former VP’s administration. Asked if President Donald Trump’s racially charged rhetoric will impact the country after he leaves office, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman reports Yang answered that Biden can unite and heal the country. “We all know that Trump’s racially divisive rhetoric has been part of the problem, not the solution,” Yang added. “Right now, we’re all desperate for a better approach. And I believe Joe Biden is going to be the person that leads this country over the next number of years to begin the healing process.”

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

MASK MANDATE

The city of Jacksonville announced a new mask mandate Monday but would not say how it would be enforced ahead of the upcoming Republican National Convention, reports CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion. “That event is over 60 days away so we’ll consider to consult with health care experts,” said Jordan Elsbury, chief of staff for Mayor Lenny Curry. The new order requires residents to wear a mask in public and indoor spaces as well as places where individuals cannot social distance. City officials say they made the decision after speaking with local health providers. 

Over the weekend, nearly 200 doctors issued an open letter to Mayor Curry and the city council suggesting the RNC be postponed or reduced in size. It stated: “It is extremely dangerous and contrary to current public health recommendations to stage a large event in an area where the number of cases are surging. ” The letter estimates more than 40,000 people could attend the convention at Jacksonville’s Vystar Veterans Memorial Area in August. It also encouraged mask-wearing and social distancing. Asked if President Trump would reconsider wearing a mask in light of the mandate, the White House said it is “a personal choice.” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “It’s his choice to wear mask.” She added, “He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for them and their safety but he did say to me, he has no problem with a mask and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requested.”

ISSUES THAT MATTER

“TIP YOUR CAP”

Four former presidents are “tipping” their caps to honor the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, according to CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion. Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter posted social media videos Monday in support of a campaign to recognize the contributions of Black baseball players from 1920-1960. “Here’s to Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and everybody else, including three brave women who did us all proud,” Obama saluted. 

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Former President Bush said his favorite player “as a kid” was Willie Mays. “It turns out Willie Mays played in the Negro Leagues for a brief period of time. I can just imagine what baseball would have been like had the predecessors to Willie Mays been able to play Major League Baseball,” Bush recollected. Former President Clinton tipped his Chicago Cubs hat in honor of Ernie Banks while President Carter said he is thankful the “era of segregated leagues is long over.” The virtual tribute was organized by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in collaboration with baseball legend Hank Aaron and Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to integrate Major League Baseball. Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Billie Jean King were among the many athletes and celebrities who also “tipped” their caps. The campaign encourages all Americans to submit posts, using the hashtag #tipyourcap2020, that will be featured on the museum’s website.

STATE-BY-STATE

CALIFORNIA

Bars across seven counties in California, including Los Angeles – the state’s most populous county – have been ordered to close once again due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, Governor Gavin Newsom said. Additionally, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports California is recommending that bars in eight counties, including Sacramento, close right away. 

Newsom said the state will be “stepping up” the enforcement of health orders through punitive regulatory measures for business and holding back funds from counties. The state has put out more than 30 sectorial guidelines for business to safely reopen. Newsom said “it is incumbent upon all of us in the state of California to take seriously these rules and these regulations and to enforce them.” The governor reiterated his threat from last week that he will withhold up to $2.5 billion in funds from counties if they are not complying with health guidelines, including the state’s mandatory order to wear masks. “If people are flaunting those rules and regulations, or disregarding or throwing out those guidelines, we want to continue to work with our county officials and local officials to help us enforce that,” Newsom said. He added that is why the state put aside $2.5 billion as part of the budget to “encourage” safer health behaviors. “We’ve got the tools, capacity to do more effective community enforcement and again, we are going to be doing just that,” Newsom said. There has been a 45% increase in positive tests over the last week in California, Newsom said. He noted that some of that has to do increased testing. 

Yesterday, the state tested a record number of more than 100,000 people. But the positivity rate, which climbed from under 5% to 5.5% “is very concerning,” Newsom said. A more accurate benchmark than positive tests is the rate of hospitalizations, which is up 43% and ICU bed occupancy, which is also up 37% over the last few weeks. The California governor stressed that the state has the health care capacity to deal with the new spike. There are currently 4,776 individuals with COVID-19 symptoms in California hospitals. Another 42,895 beds are filled patients admitted for other health concerns, leaving the state with about 30,000 open beds in the state in case the coronavirus surge continues.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

COLORADO

One of the top targets for Democrats in the Senate this cycle is Colorado where former governor John Hickenlooper and former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff will face off on Tuesday for a chance to take on Sen. Cory Gardner in November, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Hickenlooper has received endorsements from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, national Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and several of the candidates who were in the race before Hickenlooper entered in September. 

But Romanoff has been pushing forward in recent weeks with some additional help from Republican attacks on Hickenlooper. Earlier in June, Hickenlooper did not appear at a virtual ethics hearing to testify about taking private flights while governor. He testified the next day, and the commission ultimately determined he violated the gift ban. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has latched onto this in their Colorado ads. The Denver Post Editorial Board wrote that Hickenlooper made an avoidable error in refusing to testify but ultimately said, “We don’t believe Hickenlooper was trying to undermine the system, or disrespect the commission, or avoid accountability.”

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