News Headlines 6/16/21

BIDEN TO MEET WITH PUTIN TODAY: President Biden will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva today (June 16th) in the final event of his eight-day European trip. Biden plans to bring up a range of issues, including cyberattacks on U.S. companies, arms control, and the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been jailed after earlier being poisoned. Biden met yesterday with European Union officials, with an agreement reached to ease a 17-year trade dispute over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers.

U.S. PASSES 600,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS: The U.S. reached another sad pandemic milestone yesterday (June 15th), passing 600,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s count, a figure that’s about equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019. The milestone came as vaccinations have dramatically brought down cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the worst weeks in January. Reflecting that, Covid restrictions are being lifted across the country, with New York and California the latest states to remove most of their restrictions yesterday. Just under 65 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of a vaccine.

ISRAEL LAUNCHES AIRSTRIKES IN GAZA: Israel launched airstrikes at what it said where Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday (June 16th), the first since a cease-fire ended the 11-day war with the militants last month. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The strikes came after Palestinians in Gaza sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel Tuesday afternoon, causing at least 10 fires. They were acting in response to hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists parading in east Jerusalem, some of them chanting, “Death to Arabs!” Yair Lapid, the foreign minister in Israel’s new coalition government, said those marchers shouting racist slogans were, quote, “a disgrace to the Israeli people.”

EMAILS SHOW TRUMP PRESSURED JUSTICE DEPT. TO INVESTIGATE UNSUPPORTED FRAUD CLAIMS ABOUT 2020 ELECTION: Emails released yesterday (June 15th) by the House Oversight Committee show that then-President Donald Trump, his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and other allies pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, even though his former attorney general, Bill Barr, had said there wasn’t evidence for it, as had Justice Department and Homeland Security Department officials repeatedly. Emails sent to then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen urged investigating debunked conspiracy theories and false information about voter fraud. One email sent by a Trump assistant from him included a draft legal brief for the Supreme Court, that asked it declare that the Electoral College votes case in six states Trump lost, quote, “cannot be counted,” and asking for the high court to order a special election in those states. That didn’t happen, and Trump considered replacing Rosen with an ally, Jeffrey Clark, and even investigated whether the White House could appoint a special counsel on its own.