Thursday morning news – June 25, 2020

Democrats block GOP police reform bill in Senate » Senate Democrats blocked a Republican police reform bill on Wednesday. 

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it never had a chance. 

SCHUMER: This bill lost because it was woefully inadequate. It never would have passed. 

The parties do have some common ground on the issue. But for now, the legislation is stalled—with Democrats refusing to agree to open debate. 

GOP South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, one of only three Black members of the Senate, wrote the bill. He said Democrats would have been able to help shape it through amendments. 

SCOTT: If you don’t think we’re right, make it better, don’t walk away.

The GOP’s Justice Act would have created a national database of police use-of-force incidents, restricted use of chokeholds and set up new training procedures and commissions to study race and law enforcement.

House Democrats are expected to vote on their police reform bill as early as today. 

The biggest sticking point between the two parties is qualified immunity for officers. Democrats want to make it easier to sue them in civil court over misconduct. Republicans say immunity must remain to protect officers from frivolous lawsuits. 

Appeals court orders dismissal of Flynn charges » A federal appeals court has ordered the dismissal of the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

A panel of judges with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia made the ruling on Wednesday. 

The decision turned back efforts by a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop the prosecution.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI. But the Justice Department dropped the case following revelations of misconduct within the bureau. And in a 2-to-1 ruling, the appeals court said that settles it. 

President Trump congratulated Flynn on Wednesday. 

TRUMP: He was treated very, very horribly by a group of very bad people and I think you’ll see things are going to start to come out. But what happened to General Flynn should never happen again in our country. 

The decision is a significant win for both Flynn and the Justice Department—cutting short what could have been a long legal fight. 

Federal prosecutor: Lighter Stone sentence politically motivated » And the ruling comes as House Democrats scrutinize the leadership of Attorney General William Barr. They are critical of the Department of Justice’s handling of both the Flynn case and the case of Trump ally Roger Stone. 

In February, DOJ leadership overruled federal prosecutors in the Stone case, pushing for a lighter sentence.  

Aaron Zelinsky was one of four prosecutors who stepped down from the Stone case after the DOJ overruled them. He told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday…

ZELINSKY: What I heard repeatedly is that this leniency was happening   because of Stone’s relationship to the president, that the acting U.S. attorney from the District of Columbia was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice, and that his instructions to us were based on political considerations. 

Stone was found guilty of charges including lying to Congress and witness tampering. The prosecutors recommended 7 to 9 years in prison, but after top brass at the DOJ intervened, he got a sentence of just over 3 years. 

The House Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that Attorney General Barr will testify before the panel next month. 

Another record COVID-19 spike in Okla. as U.S. infections rise » Oklahoma reported a record one-day spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with nearly 500 new positive tests reported. That’s the third time in the past week the state reported record one-day increases. 

Several other states set single-day case records this week, including Arizona, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and California, where Governor Gavin Newsom said nearly 1,300 people are in intensive care. 

NEWSOM: So ICU numbers are increasing in California, not at the rate of hospitalizations, but at a clip of about 18 percent. 

Several states also broke hospitalization records, including North Carolina. And Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that his state will halt further reopening plans for now.

COOPER: Today, I’m announcing that North Carolina will pause and continue our Safer At Home Phase 2 for another three weeks. 

The United States just recorded a one-day total of nearly 35,000 new cases. That’s just short of the nation’s late-April peak of 36,400.

Suspects indicted in fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery » A Georgia grand jury has indicted the three suspects in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in February.  

Prosecutor Joyette Holmes announced the grand jury’s indictment on Wednesday outside the Glynn County, Ga., courthouse.

HOLMES: This is another positive step, another great step for finding justice for Ahmaud, for finding justice for this family and the community beyond. 

Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William Bryan Jr. face charges including felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment in the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. 

Travis McMichael claims he fired in self-defense, and his attorney said his client will plead not guilty. The McMichaels said they confronted Arbery because he matched the description of a burglary suspect. 

Bryan’s attorney maintains that his client only witnessed the killing.

North: Kim suspended action against South for Korean impasse » Amid escalating tensions, North Korea said Wednesday that it is holding off on further action against South Korea. 

WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

AUDIO: [Sound of North Korean news]

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: North Korean state media announced that leader Kim Jong Un has suspended military retaliation against South Korea. 

Last week, the North declared that relations with the South had fully ruptured. It also destroyed a diplomatic liaison office along the border that was used for talks between the two countries … and threatened unspecified military action.  

Pyongyang has expressed anger over anti-North Korean leaflets that activists have floated by balloon across the border. It has also sought to apply pressure on South Korea amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States. 

Analysts say North Korea, after deliberately raising tensions for weeks, may be pulling away just enough to make room for South Korean concessions.

In a separate statement, a senior North Korean official said the future of inter-Korean relations would depend on the South’s—quote—“attitude and actions.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) In this Feb. 1, 2017 file photo, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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