Thursday News: Five more weeks


GOVERNOR COOPER EXTENDS PHASE 2 RESTRICTIONS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 11: The new order means bars, gyms, movie theaters and amusement parks — places where people are usually in closer contact — will now be closed for nearly six straight months. Gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with some exceptions. As many university campuses and K-12 public schools begin fall classes this month with some in-person instruction, Cooper said it's important to keep the same social distancing restrictions in place. Retaining the other restrictions will help counterbalance the higher risk associated with bringing together students, the governor said. “There are key openings already occurring this month,” Cooper said at a media briefing, and with “the hustle and bustle of opening schools, people will move around more, and so will the virus.”

DESPERATE TO BRING COVID NUMBERS DOWN, CHARLOTTE WILL USE "MASK AMBASSADORS": Bilingual mask ambassadors from diverse communities will soon be frequenting businesses across Charlotte and surrounding towns, ensuring residents are following crucial health guidelines to slow the spread of COVD-19. Environmental health inspectors, typically trained to monitor food safety, will also help with Mecklenburg’s compliance efforts, County Manager Dena Diorio told county commissioners Wednesday night. “We think that education and informing can actually go a long way,” Diorio said of the county’s new program. “We’re really looking forward to getting started.” Mecklenburg County has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state. But key coronavirus metrics, such as the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations, are declining, Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Wednesday.

JUDGE UPHOLDS LINDBERG CONVICTIONS FOR BRIBING A PUBLIC OFFICIAL: The two men asked U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn, who presided over the case, to order acquittals or a new trial, challenging a host of elements within the three-week trial, including jury instruction and evidence. Late Tuesday, Cogburn denied their motions, writing that “contrary to the defendants’ assertions, the law and evidence supported that verdict.” The judge also rejected the defendants' arguments that they were unlawfully entrapped by Causey and the government. Prosecutors “presented ample evidence for the jury to find that the defendants were predisposed to commit the offenses, as they were ready and willing to offer a bribe when given an opportunity,” Cogburn wrote. A fourth person indicted in early 2019, ex-state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes, pleaded guilty last October to lying to investigators and is awaiting sentencing. Prosecutors said Hayes caused the transfer of another $250,000 in Lindberg contributions from the party’s coffers to benefit Causey, a Republican.

FACEBOOK SPANKS TRUMP OVER VIDEO CLAIMING CHILDREN ARE "ALMOST IMMUNE" FROM VIRUS: Facebook removed from Trump’s official account the post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said children are “almost immune” from covid-19. Twitter required his Team Trump campaign account to delete a tweet with the same video, blocking it from tweeting in the interim. In the removed video, President Trump can be heard in a phone interview saying schools should open. He goes on to say, “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” and that they have stronger immune systems. The twin actions came roughly three months before the elections in which Trump’s performance on coronavirus is a key issue, and the social media companies have made it clear in recent months that they will not tolerate misinformation on the global pandemic. The decision represents something of an about-face for Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has long been a proponent of free speech on his site. Zuckerberg under pressure in late June said the company will remove posts that incite violence or attempt to suppress voting — even from political leaders — and that the company will affix labels on posts that violate its hate speech or other policies.

SUBPOENAS OF DEUTSCHE BANK DOCUMENTS SHOWS SERIOUSNESS OF TRUMP INVESTIGATION: Because of its longstanding and multifaceted relationship with Mr. Trump, Deutsche Bank has been a frequent target of regulators and lawmakers digging into the president’s opaque finances. But the subpoena from the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., appears to be the first instance of a criminal inquiry involving Mr. Trump and his dealings with the German bank, which lent him and his company more than $2 billion over the past two decades. Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena. Over a period of months last year, it provided Mr. Vance’s office with detailed records, including financial statements and other materials that Mr. Trump had provided to the bank as he sought loans, according to two of the people familiar with the inquiry. The bank’s response to the subpoena reinforces the seriousness of the legal threat the district attorney’s investigation poses for Mr. Trump, his family and his company, which in recent years have faced — and for the most part fended off — an onslaught of regulatory, congressional and criminal inquiries. The subpoena to Deutsche Bank sought documents on various topics related to Mr. Trump and his company, including any materials that might point to possible fraud, according to two people briefed on the subpoena’s contents. The bank’s cooperation with Mr. Vance’s office is significant because other investigations that have sought Mr. Trump’s financial records have been stymied by legal challenges from the president and his family.