Did Trump know about the Russian bounty plot?


Greetings, QuickTake readers! In this edition: The WHO says the worst of the pandemic is yet to come, Supreme Court throws out Louisiana abortion law, and the first fragrance of the final frontier is here.

Was Trump briefed on Russia plot?

President Trump wasn't briefed on U.S. intelligence reports that Russia secretly paid bounties to Taliban militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan, because there was no consensus on the validity of the claims, the White House said Monday.

"Intelligence is verified before it reaches the president and in this case, it was not verified," said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, adding Trump had still not been briefed, citing "dissenting opinions within the intelligence community."

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump denied he was briefed by officials, calling it "another fabricated Russian Hoax." Late Monday, two government officials said Trump received a written briefing on Russian bounties in February.

As the reports drew new scrutiny on Trump's efforts to strengthen ties with the Kremlin, both Democrats and Republicans sought answers. "I expect the Trump administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted.

Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to intelligence officials, decrying the White House's "disturbing silence and inaction" and demanded a briefing on the report.

"The President denies being briefed, but the administration has not denied the existence of the intelligence," Pelosi said. "Was the President briefed, and if not, why not? Congress and the country need answers now."

$ignificant figures

2.58 million. U.S. virus cases rose by 1.2% Monday, with new hotspots emerging in Florida, which posted a 3.7% increase; in Texas, up 2.9%; and in California, up 2.5%. U.S. deaths rose 0.2% to 126,131.

246. At least that many companies, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Starbucks, have joined the Facebook ad boycott to condemn its policing of racist and misleading content and push the platform to limit hate speech.

$2,340. Gilead said it will charge the U.S. government and other developed countries $390 per vial for its coronavirus-fighting drug remdesivir, or about $2,340 for a typical five-day course of treatment.

Highly quotable

"Preferential treatment suspended." The U.S. revoked Hong Kong's special trade status before Beijing passed a national security law that "undermines its autonomy" and "risks diverting sensitive tech" to China.

"Constitutionally invalid." In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring clinic doctors to have privileges at a local hospital, concluding it imposed an "undue burden on access to the right."

"The worst is yet to come." The head of the WHO said the coronavirus pandemic is "not even close to being over" and called on countries to overcome political differences to "fight this dangerous virus together."

This is not normal

Underwater. Millions of U.S. homes and businesses are at risk of flooding after new data found federal maps underestimate danger zones by 67% in an unprecedented disclosure of the damage climate change may inflict.

The future is now

Eau de Space. NASA made a fragrance years ago to train astronauts on the smell of space. Now, a Kickstarter hopes to make the bitter and smokey scent—similar to the smell of a gunshot—available to the masses.

What's good

#TakeOutHate. After racist Covid backlash, Chinese restaurants in the U.S. are now reopening faster than any other type of independent restaurant as neighborhoods rally behind their local Asian eateries.

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ICYMI: Trump retweeted this video of a St. Louis couple aiming guns at protesters marching toward the mayor's home to demand her resignation.

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Thanks for reading!
-Andrew Mach


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