AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EDT
No peeking, voters: Court keeps Trump taxes private for now
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rejecting President Donald Trump’s complaints that he's being harassed, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a New York prosecutor’s demands for the billionaire president’s tax records. But in good political news for Trump, his taxes and other financial records almost certainly will be kept out of the public eye at least until after the November election.
In a separate case, the justices kept a hold on banking and other documents about Trump, family members and his businesses that Congress has been seeking for more than a year. The court said that while Congress has significant power to demand the president’s personal information, it is not limitless.
The court turned away the broadest arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the tax records. But it is unclear when a lower court judge might order the Manhattan district attorney's subpoena to be enforced.
Trump is the only president in modern times who has refused to make his tax returns public, and before he was elected he promised to release them. He didn't embrace Thursday's outcome as a victory even though it is likely to prevent his opponents in Congress from obtaining potentially embarrassing personal and business records ahead of Election Day.
In fact, the increasing likelihood that a grand jury will eventually get to examine the documents drove the president into a public rage. He lashed out declaring that “It's a pure witch hunt, it's a hoax" and calling New York, where he has lived most of his life, “a hellhole.”
WHO: Indoor airborne spread of coronavirus possible
LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization is acknowledging the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions — after more than 200 scientists urged the agency to do so.
In an open letter published this week in a journal, two scientists from Australia and the U.S. wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”
The researchers, along with more than 200 others, appealed for national and international authorities, including WHO, to adopt more stringent protective measures.
WHO has long dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus is spread in the air except for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.
In a change to its previous thinking, WHO noted on Thursday that studies evaluating COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants, choir practices and fitness classes suggested the virus might have been spread in the air.
Biden pledges New Deal-like economic agenda to counter Trump
DUNMORE, Pa. (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden turned his campaign against President Donald Trump toward the economy Thursday, introducing a New Deal-like economic agenda while drawing a sharp contrast with a billionaire incumbent he said has abandoned working-class Americans amid cascading crises.
The former vice president presented details of a comprehensive agenda that he touted as the most aggressive government investment in the U.S. economy since World War II. He also accused Trump of ignoring the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis while encouraging division amid a national reckoning with systemic racism.
“His failures come with a terrible human cost and a deep economic toll,” Biden said during a 30-minute address at a metal works firm near his childhood hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “Time and again, working families are paying the price for this administration’s incompetence.”
Biden's shift to the economy meets Trump on turf the Republican president had seen as his strength before the pandemic severely curtailed consumer activity and drove unemployment to near-Great Depression levels. Now, Biden and his aides believe the issue is an all-encompassing opening that gives Democrats avenues to attack Trump on multiple fronts while explaining their own governing vision for the country.
The former vice president began Thursday with proposals intended to reinvigorate the U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors.
Medical experts: Floyd's speech didn't mean he could breathe
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As George Floyd repeatedly pleaded “I can’t breathe” to police officers holding him down on a Minneapolis street corner, some of the officers responded by pointing out he was able to speak. One told Floyd it takes “a lot of oxygen” to talk, while another told angry bystanders that Floyd was “talking, so he can breathe.”
That reaction -- seen in police restraint deaths around the country -- is dangerously wrong, medical experts say. While it would be right to believe a person who can’t talk also cannot breathe, the reverse is not true – speaking does not imply that someone is getting enough air to survive.
“The ability to speak does not mean the patient is without danger,” said Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association.
“To speak, you only have to move air through the upper airways and the vocal cords, a very small amount,” and that does not mean that enough air is getting down into the lungs where it can supply the rest of the body with oxygen, said Dr. Gary Weissman, a lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.
The false perception that someone who can speak can also take in enough air is not part of any known police training curriculum or practices, according to experts on police training and use of force.
Late Seoul mayor was outspoken liberal who eyed presidency
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Park Won-soon, the three-term mayor of South Korea's capital, a fierce critic of economic inequality who was seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2022, was found dead early Friday. He was 64.
Police said Park’s body was found near a restaurant nestled in wooded hills stretching across northern Seoul after a more than seven-hour search involving hundreds of police officers, firefighters, drones and dogs.
They said there were no signs of foul play, but gave no further details on the cause of death.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government earlier said Park did not come to work on Thursday and had canceled his schedule for the day.
His daughter reported him missing Thursday afternoon, saying he had given her a “will-like” verbal message and left home. He was last seen on security video entering a park at the mouth of the hills late Thursday morning.
Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen back in federal prison
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was returned to federal prison Thursday, after balking at certain conditions of the home confinement he was granted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal Bureau of Prisons said that Cohen had “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.”
Lanny Davis, a Cohen legal adviser, said Cohen had refused to sign off on conditions requiring he avoid speaking with the media and publishing a tell-all book he began working on in federal prison. Davis said the book had been nearly ready to publish.
“That was a point that disturbed him because he pointed out that he was able to talk to the media while he was in Otisville,” Davis said. “He said, ‘But the book is already done and I’m not giving up my First Amendment right to talk to the media, to use social media and, of course, to publish my book.’”
Cohen later agreed to accept the requirements, Davis said, but was taken into custody nevertheless.
Govt Watchdog: Politics caused 'Sharpiegate' frantic rebuke
Political pressure from the White House and a series of “crazy in the middle of the night” texts, emails and phone calls caused top federal weather officials to wrongly admonish a weather office for a tweet that contradicted President Trump about Hurricane Dorian in 2019, an inspector general report found.
Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson concluded in a report issued Thursday that the statement chastising the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, could undercut public trust in weather warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and for a short time even hindered public safety. Agency officials downplayed and disputed the findings.
“Instead of focusing on NOAA’s successful hurricane forecast, the Department unnecessarily rebuked NWS forecasters for issuing a public safety message about Hurricane Dorian in response to public inquiries—that is, for doing their jobs,” the report concluded.
Former Obama NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, a scientist at Oregon State University, said in an email that high level officials “put politics and their own jobs above public safety. In my view, this is shameful, irresponsible, and unethical.”
At issue was a Sept. 1 tweet from the Birmingham weather office that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”
Ousted NY prosecutor tells panel Barr 'urged' him to resign
WASHINGTON (AP) — The ousted U.S. attorney who was leading investigations into President Donald Trump's allies told the House Judiciary panel on Thursday that Attorney General William Barr “repeatedly urged” him to resign during a hastily arranged meeting that sheds light on the extraordinary standoff surrounding his departure.
Geoffrey Berman, the former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, provided the committee with a detailed account behind closed doors of three days in June as he was pushed out, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Berman said Barr, over a 45-minute session at the Pierre Hotel in New York, “pressed” him to step aside and take on a new job heading up the Justice Department's Civil Division so the administration could install Jay Clayton, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to the top prosecutor post in Manhattan.
“I told the attorney general that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel.
Berman explained, "There were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion." He told Barr that, while he liked Clayton, he viewed the SEC commissioner as “an unqualified choice" for the job.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump team distortions on Biden and police
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's campaign team is misrepresenting Democratic rival Joe Biden's stance on improving police practices following George Floyd's death.
In ads and emails this week, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee assert that Biden would “defund the police.” That's not Biden's position. The former vice president has repeatedly made clear he would boost money for social services and condition federal dollars on police adhering to standards of decency.
Meanwhile, Biden left out some context when he asserted that Trump had ordered the government to slow down coronavirus testing.
A look at some of the claims from the campaign:
TRUMP on BIDEN
Practices begin at Disney, as teams begin restart routines
Nikola Vucevic had to raise his voice a bit to answer a question. He had just walked off the court after the first Orlando Magic practice of the restart, and some of his teammates remained on the floor while engaged in a loud and enthusiastic shooting contest.
After four months, basketball was truly back.
Full-scale practices inside the NBA bubble at the Disney complex started Thursday, with the Magic — the first team to get into the campus earlier this week — becoming the first team formally back on the floor. By the close of business Thursday, all 22 teams participating in the restart were to be checked into their hotel and beginning their isolation from the rest of the world for what will be several weeks at least. And by Saturday, all teams should have practiced at least once.
“It’s great to be back after four months,” Vucevic said. “We all missed it.”
The last eight teams were coming in Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers among them. Lakers forward LeBron James lamented saying farewell to his family, and 76ers forward Joel Embiid — who raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he said he was “not a big fan of the idea” of restarting the season in a bubble — showed up for his team’s flight in what appeared to be a full hazmat suit.