Wednesday morning news – July 22, 2020

DOJ: Chinese hackers targeted COVID-19 research » The Justice Department on Tuesday indicted two Chinese suspects … on charges of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in intellectual property and trade secrets from companies around the world.

John Demers is assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. He said the Chinese plot was wide ranging. 

DEMERS: The campaign targeted intellectual property and confidential business information held by the private sector, including COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and vaccines. 

The indictment gives the Justice Department an opportunity to condemn the actions and potentially deter future attacks. 

And FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said it’s time to hold China accountable. 

BOWDICH: China’s hacking of foreign companies to benefit Chinese state-owned enterprises is only part of their playbook. We’re bringing these charges today to put the Chinese leaders directing these cyberattacks on notice. 

U.S. officials say Li Xiayou and Dong Jiazhi, have been trying to hack tech companies, political dissidents, activists, and clergy in the United States, China, and Hong Kong for a decade.

White House resumes daily coronavirus briefings » After a near three-month hiatus, the White House resumed coronavirus briefings on Tuesday. 

TRUMP: Today I want to provide an update on our response to the China virus. 

President Trump spoke to reporters at the White House for nearly 30 minutes. He highlighted progress in finding a safe, effective vaccine for the coronavirus … as well as expanded testing.

But he acknowledged the recent surge of the outbreak in Sun Belt states … and conceded that the pandemic will likely get worse before it gets better. 

He also continued his recent push to encourage Americans to wear masks in public. 

TRUMP: Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect and we need everything we can get. 

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway had been pushing for the president to resume the daily briefings. She noted that the president’s approval numbers were higher when he was in front of the public, speaking regularly about the coronavirus response. 

Unlike briefings earlier this year, the president appeared by himself. Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force did not join him on the podium. 

Trump excluding those in US illegally from reapportionment » Also on Tuesday, the president signed a memorandum to bar people in the country illegally from being counted in congressional reapportionment. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more.

LJ: The president said protecting the rule of law and the democratic process—quote … “warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base … to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the president’s discretion.”

The move drew promises of court challenges.

Reapportionment decides the distribution of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on changes in population.

Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form. Trump then ordered the Census Bureau to gather citizenship data from the administrative records of federal and state agencies. 

That order also is being challenged in the courts.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

FBI arrests Ohio house speaker, four others in bribery investigation » FBI agents raided the rural farm of the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Tuesday. The bureau arrested Larry Householder and four other people in a $60 million dollar bribery investigation.

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers told reporters …

DEVILLERS: The conspiracy was to pass and maintain a $1.5 billion dollar bailout in exchange for $61 million dollars in dark money that were used for various things. 

DeVillers called it “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of Ohio.” 

The Republican speaker was one of the driving forces behind a financial bailout for Ohio’s two nuclear power plants, which appeared to be tied to several targets of the investigation. The legislation added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million dollars a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

The FBI also arrested Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, longtime Statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matthew Borges and Juan Cespedes, co-founder of a Columbus-based consulting firm.

Planned Parenthood of NY denounces founder Margaret Sanger » Planned Parenthood’s New York affiliate is taking steps to distance itself from one of the group’s founders. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

AJ: Planned Parenthood of Greater New York is removing the name of Margaret Sanger from its building … over her historic support for eugenics.

Karen Seltzer heads the board of the New York affiliate. She called the move a—quote—“overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color.” End quote. 

The abortion giant’s New York chapter is also talking to the city about replacing Sanger’s name on street signs. 

Eugenics the practice of selective breeding of human populations … largely based on a belief in improving the human race by limiting births among the poor and ethnic minorities. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johnansen.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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