It’s hot. Very hot. And it’s not even officially the dog days of summer yet, which, technically speaking, do not start until July 22.
If these are the pre-dog days, imagine what the actual dog days will bring? And to make things worse…our air conditioner is on the fritz. Hello, Mother Nature trying to tell me something. Not sure what that message is, but I don’t like it.
Lots of news to get through today. And so, onward.
1) More bad news for President Donald Trump was delivered today by the U.S. Supreme Court, which cleared the way for prosecutors in New York to see his financial records.
This was a stunning defeat for Trump from a conservative-leaning court and a major statement on the scope and limits of presidential power.
The decision said he had no absolute right to block release of the papers and will take its place with landmark rulings that required President Richard M. Nixon to turn over tapes of Oval Office conversations and forced President Bill Clinton to provide evidence in a sexual harassment suit.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who has been siding with the liberal judges in some high-profile cases of late, wrote for the majority that “no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”
Roberts did note, however, that Trump may still raise objections to the scope and relevance of the subpoena. Litigation over those new objections could last many months or longer.
In a separate decision – again with Roberts writing for the majority – the court ruled that Congress can not, at least for now, see many of the same records. It said the case should be returned to a lower court to narrow the parameters of the information it sought.
2) Michael Cohen, former Trump fixer and attorney, was thrown back into prison today after refusing to sign a home confinement agreement requiring him to not publish a tell-all book about the president for the duration of his sentence.
According to Cohen’s friend and former lawyer, Lanny Davis, Cohen was unexpectedly hit with this agreement while sitting down with his probation officer in downtown Manhattan for a meeting that he expected to be about fitting an electronic surveillance bracelet to his ankle.
He initially refused to sign, and then changed his mind when he realized the result of his refusal would be a return to life behind bars. But it was apparently too late.
Cohen, as you may recall, was released from prison on May 21 as part of an effort by the Justice Department to reduce inmate populations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cohen was serving time in connection with his 2018 conviction on a laundry list of financial crimes – including orchestrating campaign finance law-violating hush payments to a couple of women in 2016 after they threatened to go public with allegations that they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
3) Just when you thought it was safe to go outside…no, we’re not talking about COVID-19 risks this time, but rather, murder hornets.
The killer bugs appear to be spreading south with a new confirmed sighting in Washington state — where more than 1,000 people have scrambled to set up traps since reports of the insect being found in the US for the first time surfaced earlier this year.
The invasive insect, which can grow up to 2 inches long, are a threat to honey bees — which they can decapitate in seconds. While a sting to humans isn’t usually fatal, the host of an extreme nature show described being stung as “Searing pain! Absolute searing pain!”
Japan attributes 50 human deaths a year to murder hornets.
(Editor’s note…I really need to get that AC fixed).
4) Apparently, a number of Capital Region strip clubs are back in business, with dancers (in some cases) wearing nothing but face masks. (Hey, at least they’re practicing good public health protocols!)
However, whether these establishments should really be operating under the current pandemic conditions is a bit of an open question. They’re considered in the same league as bars and restaurants, which have been able to serve clients indoors since mid-June.
And operators argue that if their entertainers sit with patrons or provide lap dances, they would not necessarily be any closer to customers than barbers, hairstylists, tattoo artists and other personal-and grooming-service providers, all of which have been allowed to reopen.
Shenanigans in Colonie and Nite Moves, told the TU that they believe they’re allowed to operate. They said they are in full compliance with existing government mandates as set forth in the state’s four-phase economic reopening plan. The state begs to differ.
5) The Southern California lake where “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, 33, is presumed to have drowned while boating with her 4-year-old son is notorious for drownings due to dangerous conditions.
Lake Piru, about 56 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The 1,200-acre reservoir has been the site of numerous drownings over the years due to chilly temperatures that can overwhelm swimmers — as well as strong winds that are powerful enough to tip over a small boat.
Authorities are still working to recover Rivera’s body. Her son, who was found alone on the boat, sleeping, was wearing a life vest.
Photo credit: George Fazio.