Your Sunday 6: Hawley vs. the NBA, Trump wears a mask, Mueller says Stone is still a felon
People are also talking about a fire at a 215-year-old LA church, the McCloskeys, and the continuing climb of COVID-19 cases.
Hawley tweets reporter’s profane reaction to his letter to the NBA
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican who represents a state without an NBA team, is at the center of a controversy about the league.
Hawley sent a letter to the NBA commissioner saying the league “crossed the line of sanctioning specific political messages” in response to the league allowing social justice messages on jerseys.
Hawley wrote to Commissioner Adam Silver to ask why the list of approved phrases didn’t include any that were supportive of protesters in Hong Kong. He also wrote that players should be allowed to have “Back the Blue” or other police-supporting phrases on their jerseys.
“With your new policy, you have crossed the line of sanctioning specific political messages,” Hawley wrote.
About two hours after tweeting the letter Friday, Hawley posted a screenshot of an email he received from ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. The two-word email read: “[Expletive] you.”
Reaction was swift: The tweet has 13,000 retweets and comments, and more than 4,100 replies as of Sunday morning.
ESPN and Wojnarowski both posted statements:
Late Saturday, the New York Post reported that the reported was suspended without pay.
At least one NBA team has directly responded to Hawley’s letter. LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers said during a press conference: “There’s no league that does more for the military than the NBA. But how about that, Senator? I’ll make a challenge: We will do things for the troops as long as he acknowledges #BlackLivesMatter. I think that would be really cool for him to do.
“You know, it’s funny, whenever we talk about justice, people try to change the message. Colin Kaepernick kneels … . It had to do with social injustice, and everyone tried to change the narrative. How about staying on what we are talking about and dealing with that instead of trying to trick us or change or trick your constituents? How about being real?
“I guarantee you we’ve done more for the military than probably that Senator. And I guarantee you this: We also are going to do things for #BlackLivesMatter. How about him? Maybe he should join into that.”
In 2019, the NBA worked to protect its relationship with China after a team’s general manager posted a tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters.
— Beth O’Malley; the Los Angeles Times contributed some information for this article.
Trump pictured wearing a mask for the first time
President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital on Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington to meet wounded servicemembers and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients. As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”
Trump was wearing a mask in Walter Reed’s hallway as he began his visit. He was not wearing one when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility.
The president was a latecomer to wearing a mask during the pandemic, which has raged across the U.S. since March and infected more than 3.2 million and killed at least 134,000. Most prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed wearing masks as the coronavirus gained ground this summer. Republican governors have been moving toward requiring or encouraging the use of masks as the pandemic has grown more serious in some states in the South and West.
Trump, however, has declined to wear a mask at news conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other public events. People close to him have told The Associated Press that the president feared a mask would make him look weak and was concerned that it shifted focus to the public health crisis rather than the economic recovery. They spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private matters.
While not wearing one himself, Trump has sent mixed signals about masks, acknowledging that they would be appropriate if worn in an indoor setting where people were close together. But he has accused reporters of wearing them to be politically correct and has retweeted messages making fun of Democratic rival Joe Biden for wearing a mask and implying that Biden looks weak.
The wearing of masks became another political dividing line, with Republicans more resistant to wearing them than Democrats. Few masks were seen at recent Trump campaign events in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Phoenix and South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore.
The only time Trump has been known to wear a mask was during a private part of a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan.
A spokesman for the Biden campaign cast the president’s action as too little, too late.
“Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other.” — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Fire destroys 215-year-old mission church in Los Angeles
For the faithful, it was a grim Saturday as they arrived at San Gabriel Mission in LA to survey the damage from a huge fire that destroyed the historic landmark’s roof and much of the church interior.
“My heart is full of sadness,” said San Gabriel resident Anita Chavez, 70, who calls herself a “lifetime parishioner.” “This church has been at the center of my family, my world and my faith.”
Although she stood about 100 feet away, Chavez became emotional when she saw the damage and smelled the embers.
Chavez was far from alone as parishioners, Catholic Church leaders and others came to survey the damage to the 215-year-old building. Authorities received a call at 4: 24 a.m. reporting that the mission’s fire alarm had gone off. When an engine arrived to investigate, firefighters saw flames and smoke coming from the corner of the mission. The cause was under investigation.
“A part of the mission is gone and it will, God-willing, be replaced and new, but it will also never be the same,” she said.
Founded by Franciscan Father Junipero Serra in 1771, the San Gabriel Mission has long been seen as an essential link to California’s past, as well as to the brutality and racism on which the state was founded.
The mission system destroyed the lives of Native Californians and in recent decades has deeply tarnished the image of Serra, the architect of the system who has long been considered one of California’s founding fathers. Serra was made a saint by the Catholic Church in 2015, fueling outrage from many Native American activists and others.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez toured the damage around 10: 25 a.m., while San Gabriel Valley regional auxiliary bishop David G. O’Connell met and spoke with distressed parishioners and visitors.
“We’re all brokenhearted by this, and this adds another trauma onto the present trauma of the coronavirus and everything else that’s happening,” O’Connell said. “People love the mission and many of these families have connections going back generations.”
O’Connell mentioned that on Friday mission staff had “just finished redoing all the pews and had finished redoing the walls, getting them up to their original quality.”
He was thankful that because of the refurbishment, some of the mission’s statues and artwork had been removed.
A baptismal font consisting of a hammered copper basin and silver pieces donated by Spanish King Charles III in the late 18th century also survived, according to San Gabriel Mission spokeswoman Terri Huerta.
The altar and wooden statues inside the mission also came through unscathed. — Los Angeles Times
Mueller defends Russia probe, says Stone remains a felon
Former special counsel Robert Mueller sharply defended his investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, writing in a newspaper opinion piece Saturday that the probe was of “paramount importance” and asserting that a Trump ally, Roger Stone, “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so” despite the president’s decision to commute his prison sentence.
The op-ed in The Washington Post marked Mueller’s first public statement on his investigation since his congressional appearance last July. It represented his firmest defense of the two-year probe whose results have come under attack and even been partially undone by the Trump administration, including the president’s extraordinary move Friday evening to grant clemency to Stone just days before he was due to report to prison.
Mueller wrote that though he had intended for his team’s work to speak for itself, he felt compelled to “respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office.
“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mueller wrote.
Mueller did not specify who was making the claims, but it appeared to be an obvious reference to Trump, who as recently as Saturday derided the investigation as this “whole political witch hunt and the Mueller scam.”
The mere publication of the op-ed was striking for a former FBI director who was exceedingly tight-lipped during the investigation, refusing to respond to attacks by the president or his allies or to make public appearances explaining or justifying his work. In his first public statement after the investigation’s conclusion, Mueller said he intended for his 448-page report to speak for itself. When he later testified to House lawmakers, he was similarly careful not to stray beyond the report’s findings or offer new evidence.
But that buttoned-up approach created a void for others, including at the Justice Department, to place their own stamp on his work. Even before the report was released Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page summary document that Mueller privately complained did not adequately capture the gravity of his team’s findings.
In the months since, Barr assigned a U.S. attorney to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, and the Justice Department moved to dismiss the criminal case against former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn even though Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period. That request is the subject of an ongoing court dispute.
The op-ed chronicled the basis for the Stone prosecution, with Mueller recounting how Stone had not only tampered with a witness but also lied repeatedly about his efforts to gain inside information about Democratic emails that Russian intelligence operatives stole and provided to WikiLeaks, which published them in the run-up to the election.
Those efforts, including his discussions with Trump campaign associates about them, cut to the heart of Mueller’s mandate to determine whether anyone tied to the campaign coordinated with Russia in the hacking or disclosure of the stolen Democratic emails.
Stone was particularly central to the investigation, Mueller writes, because he claimed to have inside knowledge about WikiLeaks’ release of the emails and because he communicated during the campaign with people known to be Russian intelligence officers. He also updated members of the Trump campaign about the timing of the WikiLeaks releases, something that he denied.
“We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities,” Mueller wrote. “The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Stone was found guilty last fall of witness tampering, false statements and obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian election interference. He was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison and was due to surrender on Tuesday, until the president commuted his sentence.
He was one of six former Trump associates or advisers to be convicted in the Russia investigation. In total, the investigation produced charges against 34 individuals, including 25 Russians accused either of hacking into Democratic email accounts or engaging in a covert social media campaign to divide American public opinion ahead of the election. — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Covid-19 cases climb as some state and local leaders clash over moves to curb the spread
With coronavirus cases climbing across the US, local and state leaders have found themselves at odds over the types of restrictions that should be in place to move forward effectively.
In Florida, Rep. Donna Shalala said the virus is still out of control and places like Miami are edging closer to shutting down fora second time.
“It’s out of control across the state because our governor won’t even tell everybody to wear masks. At least in Miami-Dade county, everyone must wear a mask when they’re outside,” she told CNN Saturday night.
“This is an American tragedy,” she added.
Despite Florida breaking multiple single-day new cases records in past weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted implementing a state-wide mask mandate, saying last week the state has “stabilized where we’re at.” On Saturday, he suggested Florida would not be moving on to the next reopening phase for now, saying “we want to get this positivity rate down.”
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp slammed the Atlanta mayor’s decision to move the city’s reopening back to phase 1, saying the action was “merely guidance — both non-binding and legally unenforceable.” Phase 1 includes an order for residents to stay home except for essential trips. The mayor, who has tested positive for Covid-19, defended her decision saying the state opened recklessly and residents were “suffering the consequences.”
“As clearly stated in my executive orders, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide,” Kemp wrote on Twitter.
The debates are part of nationwide efforts by US leaders to control a now rapid spread of coronavirus without having to force residents into a second lockdown. More than half of US states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans in hopes of slowing down new cases. But both mandates and suggestions for face masks by officials still face heavy backlash by many Americans — even as experts warn they’re the most effective way to prevent further spread of the virus.
Now deep into the coronavirus crisis, the US is reporting more than 3.2 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s more than the individual population of 21 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to US Census Bureau data. At least 134,814 Americans have died.
Missouri is among 33 states that are recording upward trends in new cases, compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Three states are reporting a decline: Delaware, Maine and New Jersey
The CDC now estimates 40% of people infected with coronavirus show no symptoms. The percent of asymptomatic cases in the country remains uncertain, the agency said. — CNN
Attorneys who became national figures have long history of lawsuits
Personal-injury attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey became instant national figures when they intercepted protesters marching past their marble-faced palazzo at One Portland Place, aimed guns at them and demanded they get out.
Public records and interviews reveal a fuller picture than emerged two weeks ago. They show the McCloskeys are almost always in conflict with others, typically over control of private property, what people can do on that property, and whose job it is to make sure they do it.
They filed a lawsuit in 1988 to obtain their house, a castle built for Adolphus Busch’s daughter and her husband during St. Louis’ brief run as a world-class city in the early 20th century. At the McCloskeys’ property in Franklin County, they have sued neighbors for making changes to a gravel road and twice in just over two years evicted tenants from a modular home on their property.
Mark McCloskey sued a former employer for wrongful termination and his sister, father and his father’s caretaker for defamation.
In 2013, he destroyed bee hives placed just outside of the mansion’s northern wall by the neighboring Jewish Central Reform Congregation and left a note saying he did it, and if the mess wasn’t cleaned up quickly he would seek a restraining order and attorneys fees. The congregation had planned to harvest the honey and pick apples from trees on its property for Rosh Hashanah.
“The children were crying in school,” Rabbi Susan Talve said. “It was part of our curriculum.”
By filing so many lawsuits, the McCloskeys opened a large window onto their values and ambitions.