Read Time: 6 Minutes
- A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered a judge to grant the Department of Justice’s unusual move to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals approved Flynn’s petition to intervene in the case after a district court judge had tapped an outside counsel to argue against the DOJ’s move.
- President Trump welcomed Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House on Wednesday, the first visit of a foreign head of state since March during the coronavirus pandemic.
Duda’s visit to Washington is viewed as highly unusual given its proximity to the Polish presidential election.
- President Trump said Wednesday, following a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House, that the United States will likely move some of the troops being shifted out of Germany into Poland.
“They’ll be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we’ll probably be moving them from Germany to Poland,” Trump told reporters.
- President Trump celebrated a federal judge’s decision upholding an administration plan requiring hospitals and health insurers disclose rates that are normally hidden from patients.
“BIG VICTORY for patients. Federal court UPHOLDS hospital price transparency,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Patients deserve to know the price of care BEFORE they enter the hospital. Because of my action, they will. This may very well be bigger than healthcare itself.”
- Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month as Democrats on the panel seek to investigate his decision to fire a top prosecutor in Manhattan who had been investigating Trump allies.
- Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser, equated Chinese President Xi Jinping to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on Wednesday in an aggressive speech that lambasted China for what he described as a malevolent role in world affairs.
- Tomas Philipson, the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers is departing the administration at the end of June, according to a White House official — leaving the president with one fewer senior economist in the middle of a recession.
- On June 2, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signed on as a co-sponsor of a bill to punish China for undermining Hong Kong’s independence.
Two weeks later, he turned around and blocked it — at the request of the White House.
- President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order intended to improve the child welfare system, seeking to strengthen foster care and adoption programs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The order aims to improve transparency and oversight and increase collaboration between public, private and faith-based groups that focus on child welfare.
- The United States imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who delivered oil to Venezuela, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed Washington’s backing for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
- American Special Operations forces used a specially designed secret missile to kill the head of a Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Khaled al-Aruri, this month.
A modified Hellfire missile, designed to limit civilian casualties, carried an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it hurled about 100 pounds of metal through the top of Mr. al-Aruri’s car. If the high-velocity projectile did not kill him, the missile’s other feature almost certainly did: six long blades tucked inside, which deployed seconds before impact to slice up anything in its path.
House Judiciary Committee
- Aaron Zelinsky, one of four prosecutors who withdrew from the Roger Stone case when the Justice Department recommended a lesser sentence for Stone because of his ties to President Trump, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Zelinsky said the department’s intervention in the sentencing recommendation was “unprecedented.” “Roger Stone was treated differently because of politics,” he told lawmakers. Zelinsky appeared via live video, saying he had to testify remotely to avoid risk of infection with the coronavirus.
When pressed by lawmakers on the consequences he and the fellow prosecutors assigned to Stone’s case could face for pushing back on efforts to lessen the sentencing recommendation, Zelinsky said they were informed “we could be fired if we didn’t go along.”
Zelinsky didn’t name the official who told him that the Stone decision was politicized. Instead, Zelinsky just said it was a “supervisor.” When pressed by Rep. Jim Jordan as to who it was, Zelinsky replied, “So the supervisor for the questions you’re asking is the supervisor of the fraud and public corruption” unit in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office.” Adding, “His name is J.P. Cooney.”
Zelinsky also added that other officials were party to the discussions. “At the time in the office, there was a first assistant, there was a criminal chief — they were all involved in these discussions,” Zelinsky said. He later named the first assistant as Alessio Evangelista.
- Rep. Sylvia Garcia asked Zelinsky whether AG Barr had abandoned the rule of law. She cited another withdrawn prosecutor from the Stone case, Jonathan Kravis, who wrote a Washington Post op-ed last month saying of his 10-year tenure in the DOJ, “I left a job I loved because I believed the department had abandoned its responsibility to do justice in one of my cases, United States v. Roger Stone.”
Garcia asked Zelinsky whether he agreed with that statement, and Zelinsky was direct. “I do.”
- Former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer who served in the George H.W. Bush administration began his testimony Wednesday with some particularly stinging remarks.
“I am here because I believe that William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law and to public trust in it,” Ayer said. “That is because he does not believe in its core principle that no person is above the law. Instead, since taking office, he has worked to advance his lifelong conviction that the president should hold virtually autocratic powers.”
He added later, “I think we’re on the way to something far worse than Watergate, where you had a problem of public distrust, because it’s becoming very transparent that many things are being done essentially for reasons that are completely unrelated to the merits of the case.”
- Mark Cuban told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he will vote for Joe Biden over President Trump in November, arguing that Trump “only wants to run a campaign” while Biden “wants to run a country.”
- Some Black progressives are calling for Joe Biden to pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, even as the Biden campaign faces pressure to select a woman of color.
Progressives making the case for Warren say her experience and policy ideas make her the best choice.
- A number of high-profile Democrats are set to hold events for the party’s presidential candidate, Joe Biden, in the coming weeks as the race against President Trump heats up.
Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; former South Bend, IN., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Andrew Yang; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke will all be headlining events.
- Joe Biden has widened his lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin and narrowly leads the president in Ohio, according to a pair of polls out Wednesday from two key swing states in the Midwest.
- President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are running neck and neck in Ohio, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll survey of the state released Wednesday.
Biden holds a statistically insignificant 1-point lead over Trump in the Buckeye State, garnering 46 percent of the vote to the president’s 45 percent. That’s well within the poll’s 2.9-point margin of error, suggesting that Ohio could still swing either way.
- Democrats will hold a largely virtual convention in August to nominate Joe Biden as their presidential candidate, the party said, with Biden giving his acceptance speech in person in Milwaukee, but state delegations staying home.
- President Trump’s reelection campaign is suing the largest Democratic super PAC for running an ad that it says misrepresents the president’s remarks about the coronavirus.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, alleges that Priorities USA, the main super PAC backing former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid, “knowingly and intentionally” manipulated audio clips of Trump to make it seem as if the president had called the coronavirus a “hoax” and downplayed the threat posed by the pandemic.
Sources: ABC News, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post