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A 2019 bomb blast on a military convoy that killed three Marines is under review

By

Luis Martinez
,

Matt Seyler
and

Martha Raddatz

July 1, 2020, 2:19 AM
7 min read

7 min read

Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, told ABC News on Tuesday that while he saw no evidence of Russians offering bounties to kill U.S. troops during his time commanding Marines in Afghanistan, the families of fallen service members are “entitled” to answers.
“You just have to look at the facts like always, investigate thoroughly,” said Berger, who spoke with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz in an exclusive interview airing this Sunday.

The White House on Tuesday continued to provide briefings to select members of Congress on the intelligence about reported Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which a military official told ABC News showed that Russian intelligence officers had over the past year offered to pay Taliban militants to kill American troops. Lawmakers have called on the administration to share more information and potentially take action.

One of the incidents being looked at for a possible connection to the alleged Russian scheme is an April 8, 2019 bomb blast on an American military convoy near Bagram Air Base that killed three Marines, according to The Associated Press.
Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines and Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman were all killed when a car bomb detonated near their vehicle as their convoy headed back to the base. They were among the 23 Americans who died in Afghanistan in 2019 either from combat or non-combat reasons.

An Afghan military convoy drives past the site of a car bomb attack where U.S soldiers were killed near Bagram air base, Afghanistan, April 9, 2019.
An Afghan military convoy drives past the site of a car bomb attack where U.S soldiers were killed near Bagram air base, Afghanistan, April 9, 2019.Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

Hendriks’ father Erik told ABC News on Tuesday that it would “break his heart” to find out that reports of Russian bounties were true. He said he would hope service members were never sent into combat without the very best intelligence possible.
Erik Hendriks also said he was disappointed that no one from the Trump administration had yet reached out to his family to offer consolation or answers, but was careful to divorce his anger from politics.
“I’m not shooting darts at Trump’s face,” he said, before adding that he has earned the right to speculate and question.

Berger told Raddatz that he didn’t recall ever seeing anything about Russian meddling in any intelligence reports while in Afghanistan, but said, “it takes a lot to surprise me now.”
“Where we operated in southern Helmand we didn’t have, to my knowledge, Russian influence,” Berger said. “It could have been, but I was not aware of it.”

The information about the Russian bounty program was first gleaned from special operations raids on Taliban locations in January where large amounts of American cash was found, according to a military official.
Subsequent intelligence about the program was specific enough that both the military and CIA took steps to increase security and surveillance of Russian operatives inside Afghanistan, a source told ABC News.
Months later that intelligence was briefed to senior national security officials, according to the military official.

From left, Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pa., Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, of Newark, Del., and Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, N.Y. All three were killed on April 8, 2019, when a roadside bomb hit their convoy near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
From left, Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pa., Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, of Newark, Del., and Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, N.Y. All three were killed on April 8, 2019, when a roadside bomb hit their convoy near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.U.S. Marine Corps via AP

President Donald Trump and White House officials have said he was not briefed on the intelligence because it had not been fully verified by the U.S. intelligence community. But the New York Times quotes two officials as saying that the information was included in written form in the president’s daily intelligence briefing from late February.
While the April 2019 incident is among those under investigation for possible links to the bounty program, the Pentagon said in a statement issued late Monday that it has not found any corroborating evidence.
“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman. “To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports. Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan — and around the world — most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats.”
The director of national intelligence and the CIA decried the intelligence leaks about the Russian bounty program in separate statements Monday, saying it could hamper their ongoing analysis about the Russian program.
ABC News’ James Meek and Henderson Hewes contributed to this report

A white former Atlanta police officer charged with felony murder in the death of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was shot twice in the back, was granted a bond of $500,000 on Tuesday despite Brooks’ widow making a tearful plea to keep him locked up.Following a nearly two-hour hearing, Judge Jane C. Barwick of the Superior Court of Fulton County granted bail to Garrett Rolfe, who fatally shot the 27-year-old Brooks while on duty June 12 in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant.

Rolfe, who has been in the Gwinnett County Jail since he surrendered on June 18, was expected to be released on Tuesday afternoon following the posting of bail, according to his attorneys. He only has to put up 10%, or $50,000, to secure the bond.
In making her decision, Barwick rejected arguments from prosecutors that Rolfe is a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Former Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe, right, appears on a television screen with attorney Lance LoRusso, June 30, 2020, in Atlanta.
Former Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe, right, appears on a television screen with attorney Lance LoRusso, June 30, 2020, in Atlanta.Brynn Anderson/AP

“I do not believe he is a danger to the community,” Barwick said.
The judge imposed a series of strict conditions for Rolfe’s release, requiring him to be fitted with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, adhere to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, surrender his passport, possess no firearms, and avoid contact with Brooks’ family, witnesses in the case, and any Atlanta police officer.
While the hearing was held in Barwick’s courtroom, Rolfe’s attorneys, prosecutors and other participants attended via Zoom video conferencing.
Prior to announcing her decision, Barwick allowed Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, to address the court.
Miller asked Barwick to deny Rolfe bond.

On a video conference call, Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks speaks to Judge Jane C. Barwick during a bond hearing for former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, June 30, 2020, in Atlanta.
On a video conference call, Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks speaks to Judge Jane C. Barwick during a bond hearing for former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, June 30, 2020, in Atlanta.Brynn Anderson/AP

“My husband did not deserve to die, and I should not have to live in fear while waiting for the man who killed my husband to be tried in court,” Miller said, breaking into tears. “This defendant should not be treated like anyone else who is accused of taking someone’s life without remorse.”
Miller also told the judge that Brooks was a “loving, caring, feeling, wonderful father, and the best husband I could ask for.”
“He had the brightest smile and the biggest heart,” she said.
While Barwick thanked Miller for speaking, she said that like all defendants Rolfe has to be considered innocent until proven guilty. She said her discretion in setting bail was “limited” to the statutes of state law.
Rolfe, who was fired from the police department, did not speak during the hearing.

Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe in a photo released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office on June 18, 2020. Rolfe fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta on June 14, 2020.
Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe in a photo released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office on June 18, 2020. Rolfe fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta on June 14, 2020.Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

He is charged with 11 counts, including felony murder, multiple counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and seven violations of his office. Three of the aggravated assault charges stem from a stray bullet Rolfe fired that hit a vehicle occupied by three people.
Clinton Rucker, executive assistant district attorney for Fulton County, had initially requested that no bail be set for Rolfe, but later requested $1 million bail be set if bail were to be granted. Rolfe’s attorney, Bill Thomas, requested the judge set bail in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.
“While the family of Rayshard Brooks is disappointed that his killer was granted bond today, they understand that this is just one step in the long quest for justice for Rayshard,” the family’s attorneys, L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, said in a joint statement.

Brooks’ death came amid seething tensions as protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police broke out in Atlanta and in cities across the nation.
The Brooks shooting came just days after six Atlanta police officers were criminally charged after viral video caught them deploying stun guns on two black college students and dragging them from their car as a protest was occurring nearby.
Brooks was killed after a Wendy’s employee called police to complain that Brooks was passed out behind the wheel of a car in the drive-thru lane, according to police.

Officer Devin Brosnan was the first to arrive on the scene and knocked on Brooks’ window but could not wake him up. Body camera video showed Brosnan opening the door and shaking Brooks awake.
Rolfe responded to the scene when Brosnan radioed a dispatcher saying he needed a DUI-certified officer.

Rayshard Brooks, a father of three daughters and a stepson, was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, June 12, 2020.
Rayshard Brooks, a father of three daughters and a stepson, was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, June 12, 2020.Stewart Trial Attorneys

When officers tried to put Brooks in handcuffs, Brooks struggled, wrestled with both officers on the ground, and then grabbed Brosnan’s stun gun.

Surveillance video showed Brooks running through the parking lot as the officers chased after him. While fleeing, Brooks allegedly shot the stun gun at Rolfe, who drew his weapon and opened fire. Brooks died from two gunshots to his back, the medical examiner determined.
At a news conference last week, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged that video of the incident recorded Rolfe kicking Brooks as Brooks lay dying on the ground and Brosnan standing on Brooks’ shoulder. But during Tuesday’s hearing, another one of Rolfe’s attorney, Noah Pines, denied that Rolfe kicked Brooks after shooting him.
Brosnan, who has been placed on administrative leave from the police department, was charged with two counts of violations of oath and one count of aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks’ shoulder after he was shot by Rolfe. Brosnan also surrendered to authorities on June 18 and was released on $50,000 bail.

Prosecutors say the mother of two children who were found dead in rural Idaho months after they vanished had conspired with her new husband to hide or destroy the kids’ bodies

By

REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

June 30, 2020, 11:43 PM
5 min read

5 min read
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BOISE, Idaho — Prosecutors say the mother of two children who were found dead in rural Idaho months after they vanished in a bizarre case that captured worldwide attention had conspired with her new husband to hide or destroy the kids’ bodies.
The new felony charges against Lori Vallow Daybell came late Monday, the latest twist in a case tied to the mysterious deaths of the couple’s former spouses and their beliefs about zombies and the apocalypse that may have affected their actions.

A judge set Daybell’s bail at $1 million during her first court appearance on the new felony charges Tuesday. The judge asked if she understood the allegations and that if convicted she could be sentenced to up to 10 years behind bars. Daybell, who wiped her eyes occasionally with a tissue, answered “yes.”
Daybell is already charged with abandoning or deserting 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, but because police found their remains buried in her husband’s yard, it’s not clear if those allegations will stand. She’s also charged with obstructing a police investigation, asking a friend to lie to police on her behalf and contempt of court for failing to follow a order to produce the kids.
Daybell’s attorney has indicated that she intends to defend herself against the charges, but she hasn’t yet had a chance to enter a plea.
Her husband, Chad Daybell, was charged this month with concealing evidence by destroying or hiding the children’s bodies. He’s pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors are using the same behavior alleged in Lori Daybell’s older charges to support the conspiracy charge, saying she aided Chad Daybell’s efforts to hide the bodies by asking her friend to lie to police about JJ’s whereabouts and lying to police herself when she told them JJ was in Arizona and Tylee was attending college.
Authorities have not yet said how exactly the children died or who caused their deaths. Court documents suggest JJ was buried in a pet cemetery on Chad Daybell’s property and that Tylee’s remains were dismembered and burned. Investigators found the remains by tracking the movements of Lori Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, using cellphone data. Authorities searched Chad Daybell’s home again Monday but haven’t said what they were looking for.
Cox is also dead, succumbing to an apparent blood clot in his lung at his home in Arizona last December. In the newest court documents filed in Lori Daybell’s conspiracy case, Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball wrote that Cox also was involved in the conspiracy to hide the kids’ remains by taking JJ to Chad Daybell’s property the day the child was buried and by later telling police the boy was visiting his grandparents in Louisiana.
The documents also reference claims that the Daybells believed dark spirits, or “zombies,” would possess people. Lori Daybell reportedly told her friend Melanie Gibb at different times in 2019 that both JJ and Tylee had become zombies. Gibb said the Daybells also believed the only way to rid a person of a dark spirit was by killing them so the person could be at rest in the afterlife.
“Gibb was informed by Vallow that when a person became a ‘zombie,’ their original spirit left their body and entered ‘limbo’ and is trapped and cannot progress to ‘paradise,’” Ball wrote in an affidavit. “Vallow then informed Gibb that for the person’s original spirit to be freed from limbo the person’s physical body had to die. Despite the teaching that a physical body needed to die, Gibb reports she was never told by Vallow or Daybell that they planned to carry out a physical killing themselves.”
The complex case began last summer with Cox shooting and killing Lori’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix in what he asserted was self-defense. Vallow was seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times.
Shortly after Vallow’s death, Lori and the children moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company, putting out many fiction books he wrote about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also recorded podcasts about preparing for the apocalypse, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil.”
He had been married to Tammy Daybell, who died in her sleep last October of what her obituary said were natural causes. Authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori just two weeks later, and they had Tammy Daybell’s body exhumed in Utah in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.
Police began searching for Tylee and JJ in November after relatives raised concerns. Police say the Daybells lied to investigators about the children’s whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho. They were found in Hawaii months later.

Rev. Robert Lee IV says taking down these symbols is an “opportunity.”

By

Allie Yang

July 1, 2020, 12:41 AM
6 min read

6 min read
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Rev. Robert Lee IV is the great-great-great-nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and he says that taking down Confederate symbols in public spaces is a “no brainer.”
“I see them as idolatries… They have been created into idols of white supremacy and racism,” Lee told ABC News.

“This is a no brainer. This is an issue of justice and of peace,” he said. “[If] we want peace in our time and the ability to [have] equality … we must do that by addressing the monuments not only in stone and in bronze, but elsewhere as well.”

Lee spoke to ABC News in the wake of NASCAR’s ban on Confederate Flags from its racetracks earlier this month and several Confederate statues being taken down. On Tuesday night, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves officially removed the Confederate battle emblem from the state’s flag.

Artist Dustin Klein projects an image of George Floyd onto the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., June 18, 2020.
Artist Dustin Klein projects an image of George Floyd onto the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., June 18, 2020.Julia Rendleman/Reuters

“I didn’t see this happening in my lifetime. This is an incredible opportunity to seek justice, to try to right the wrongs of the past by seeking redemption and atonement for all of these things that have been wrong,” Lee said. “This is the first domino of many dominos to fall that can really shape the way we view our future.”
Lee said he grew up with the flag hanging in his bedroom.
“I celebrated the fact that I was related to the man who was the standard bearer for that flag,” he said. “But as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that there is an importance to address what’s going on now and to see it for what it is — white supremacy and racism have been the basis for the celebration of that flag for a long time.”

He credits a woman named Bertha Hamilton with counseling him before he became a reverend.

Rev. Robert Lee IV is the great-great-great-nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Rev. Robert Lee IV is the great-great-great-nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.ABC

“[She] said ‘Sweetie, I know you’re going to be called to ministry … but if you want to be called to ministry, you can’t have that flag in your room,” he said. “I felt that day… I can’t have a symbol of divisiveness in my room — in my bedroom — a place where I rest my head.”
He says removing Confederate symbols has become a “personal issue.” He wants to address the issue “not only for my namesake’s sake but also [because of] the reality that this is about more than just me.”
Historians note that Lee’s ancestor was a brilliant general. But what parts of his history should be honored?
“Robert E. Lee meant a lot to me … there was some sense of being proud to be a Lee,” he said.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham lies on the ground after protesters pulled it down in Monroe Park in Richmond, Va., June 6, 2020.
The statue of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham lies on the ground after protesters pulled it down in Monroe Park in Richmond, Va., June 6, 2020.Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

He said he ultimately came to believe that “there’s no distinction between fighting for your home state, which was ultimately for the state’s right to enslave people.”
“Even if he was fighting for his home state of Virginia, he was fighting for the continued enslavement of black people,” he said. “That to me is just not something that we can have in our city squares, that’s not something we can have in our schools, that’s not something we can celebrate.”

Described as an introvert, McClain was on his way home from a convenience store.

The family of a 20-year-old Fort Hood, Texas, soldier who has been missing for more than two months is demanding a congressional investigation into her disappearance.

Eviction fears in New Orleans as coronavirus aid expires, unemployment rates remain high

As the pandemic worsens alarmingly in large parts of the country, pressure from health experts and local officials is mounting for Americans to wear masks or face coverings, and congressional Republicans are telling President Donald Trump he should do the same.A Fox host he routinely watches said Tuesday he should “set a good example.”

It comes as Vice President Mike Pence, facing reporters, claimed the president has been clear in his support of masks, even saying he’s worn one in public — which he has not.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2020.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2020.Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With President Trump ramping up his reelection campaign as the coronavirus rages across the southern United States, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is not running for reelection, warned, “The stakes are too high for this political debate about pro-Trump anti-Trump mask to continue.”
“Unfortunately, this simple life-saving practice has become part of the political debate that says this: if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask; if you’re against Trump, you do,” Alexander said as he chaired a Senate hearing on the state of the crisis with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts.
He pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research showing wearing a mask significantly slows the spread.

“That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases, it’s not necessary for him to do so,” he added. “The president has plenty of admirers. They would follow his lead.”

Alexander joins a growing chorus of calls from congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to wear masks.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she thought it would be helpful if Trump would wear one.
“I think that we all should be wearing masks, and I think it would help if the president were to do so as well I think that that says that we all have a level of personal responsibility,” Murkowski said.

And a similar plea came from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the only Republican senator who voted to to remove Trump from office.
“If the president wants to make clear that he is fully supportive of people wearing masks, that would be very helpful,” Romney said Tuesday.
Even Trump allies at Fox News are sending the message.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

“Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy on Tuesday morning said it would set “a good example” for Trump to use one.
“He’d be a good role model. I don’t see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public,” the conservative-host said during an interview Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.
“‘MAGA’ should now stand for ‘Masks Are Great Again.’ Let me give you some marketing advice right there,” he added.

Fox host Sean Hannity, too, whom Trump has called one of “favorite journalists,” also suggested Monday night more Americans should consider wearing them.
“I went to my grocery store every week. Guess what? They wore masks. Nobody at my grocery store, thank God, got coronavirus,” Hannity said. “I think they work.”
“And I said — especially if I wear a mask and it opens up baseball, concerts, NFL football — I’d rather wear the mask and go to the game to protect Grandpa, Grandma, Ma and Dad, and watch the ball game.”

President Donald J. Trump participates in a taped Fox News Town Hall with Sean Hannity Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Green Bay-Austin Struble International Airport in Green Bay, Wis.
President Donald J. Trump participates in a taped Fox News Town Hall with Sean Hannity Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Green Bay-Austin Struble International Airport in Green Bay, Wis.Smg/ZUMAPRESS.com

The abrupt shift in conservative thought reflects both overwhelming public opinion and scientific studies that masks are effective in slowing the spread of the virus — but it stands in clear contradiction to President Trump’s messaging.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday, asked if Trump would wear one at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in August since the city made them mandatory in public, said it’s “his choice” to wear a mask even as he recommended others follow guidance of state and local officials.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House, June 29, 2020, in Washington.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House, June 29, 2020, in Washington.Evan Vucci/AP

“I talked to the president before coming out here,” McEnany said. “It’s his choice to wear a mask. It’s the personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not. He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety, but he did say to me he has no problem with masks, and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you.”
Fauci and other top health officials at the Senate hearing sung the praises of masks as Fauci warned the U.S. could see 100,000 cases a day if the country doesn’t get the spread under control.

One way to do that, suggested Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would be for the federal government to distribute masks for free or at low cost to all American households as countries including South Korea, France and Austria have done for their citizens, he said, before asking the witnesses if they’d support it.
“Yes, of course,” Fauci said. “Anything that furthers the use of mask, whether it’s giving out free masks, any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a face covering as he listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, June 30, 2020.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a face covering as he listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, June 30, 2020.Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield added: “It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings.”
While the hearing was underway, former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive political opponent in November, in a campaign speech Tuesday called the president’s response the coronavirus crisis a failure and used masks as an example of how he’s divided the country over the pandemic.

“We can’t continue half wearing masks and half-rejecting science,” Biden said. “Wear a mask, keep your distance, limit the size of crowds. Mr. President, this is not about you. It’s about the health and well being of the American public.”

While Trump and Biden present their conflicting leadership styles to the American people, financial institutions are also weighing in what’s become a political issue.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., June 30, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., June 30, 2020.Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Goldman Sachs chief economist, Jan Hatzius, said his team investigated the link between face masks and COVID-19 health and economic outcomes and found a national mask mandate could save the country from a huge economic hit — a point that may grab Trump’s attention.
“These calculations imply that a face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP,” the economist wrote in a note to clients.

Though the CDC first recommended face masks or covering for Americans on April 3, some studies have since found if masks had been mandated earlier lives could have been saved.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) model, often cited by the White House, predicts that more than 175,000 people in the U.S. will die from COVID-19 by Oct. 1. That number would drops by tens of thousands to 146,000 deaths if 95% of the population wore a mask or covering around others.
Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, has also urged more Americans to wear masks in the last few days, repeating several times at a coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday: “Wear a mask.”

Vice President Pence removes his mask as he arrives at the podium to speak to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at their headquarters in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020.
Vice President Pence removes his mask as he arrives at the podium to speak to the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at their headquarters in Rockville, Md., June 30, 2020.Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Questioned by ABC’s John Parkinson about the president’s reluctance to wear one, Pence replied: “Well, the president’s worn a mask in public, as have I. And you’ve heard a strong encouragement, about mask wearing.”
The vice president’s reference wasn’t immediately clear.
During a visit in to a Ford plant in Detroit in late May, President Trump said he “wore one in the back area” but not openly because he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”
Pence went on to paint the administration as being clear in its message on masks, even as Trump has not conveyed it himself.
The vice president has stepped up his rhetoric around masks significantly since Sunday, when he visited the hotspot state of Texas and said, “Wearing a mask is just a good idea.”
Hours earlier, Pence spoke at a mega-church in Dallas with over 2,000 congregants and a 100-person choir — standing close and none wearing masks while singing — though the CDC has warned of the “super spreader” potential.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Southern Baptist megachurch First Baptist Dallas during a Celebrate Freedom Rally in Dallas, June 28, 2020.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Southern Baptist megachurch First Baptist Dallas during a Celebrate Freedom Rally in Dallas, June 28, 2020.Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo

Even as more states and cities adopt mask mandates citing public health and safety, not all Republicans are on board with the science.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who graduated from Duke University Medical School, said in the coronavirus hearing Tuesday: “We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best for everyone.”

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota told Fox News Monday night “we won’t be social distancing” at Trump’s Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore.
Noem added that while the state would provide masks to those attending the Friday evening event, it would not require people to wear them.
ABC News’ Anne Flaherty, Trish Turner, Allison Pecorin, Jordyn Phelps, John Parkinson and Catherine Thorbecke contributed to this report.

The 18-year-old also is planning to attend Winston-Salem State University.

June 30, 2020, 9:52 PM
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At 18, Rajah Caruth already has a trophy case filled with medals and awards from competitive driving, from races all over the country.
He’s just getting started.

The soon-to-be Winston-Salem State University freshman already has his NASCAR license, and he has big dreams to become one of the sport’s top drivers like Bubba Wallace, whom he considers a role model.
But the journey for Caruth, like for most African American drivers, hasn’t been easy. Caruth didn’t grow up in a racing family, had no connections and didn’t know much about how to make his dream a reality. Most of what he knew about racing came from being a fan of cartoon characters like Lighting McQueen and Speed Racer.
Caruth attended his first race in middle school.
“That really flipped the switch,” he said. “That was the point where I realized that this is what I want to do, this is what I want to put my life and my career into.”

Rajah Caruth, NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine at New Smyrna Speedway, Oct. 23, 2019, in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Rajah Caruth, NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine at New Smyrna Speedway, Oct. 23, 2019, in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.Brian Cleary/Getty Images

NASCAR currently has just one Black driver in the top flight: Wallace.
In recent weeks, he’s emerged as a new face of the franchise because he has “Black Lives Matter” on his car and initial reports of a noose found in his garage, which led to an FBI investigation.
In the wake of that story, many in the NASCAR community stepped up and supported Wallace, embracing Black Lives Matter and giving young drivers like Caruth hope for the future.
“He’s been a good role model, a really good role model, and an ambassador for the sport,” Caruth said of Wallace. “He’s been a really good person for me to look up to, just in terms of how to carry myself, online and at the racetrack, how to treat people, how to deal with criticism and just mean people.”

During the Honor QuikTrip 500 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR President Steve Phelps had drivers shut down their cars so he could read the following message over the public address system:
“The Black community and all people of color have suffered in our country, and it has taken far too long for us to hear their demands for change. Our sport must do better. Our country must do better. The time is now to listen, to understand and to stand against racism and racial injustice.”
Caruth said that while he’s personally faced issues regarding his race, it’s been on a “much smaller” scale than Wallace’s battles with online trolls and attacks via social media.

Fans cheer for Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, after the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.
Fans cheer for Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, after the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“I’m definitely not going to act like, you know, I had the worst time possible, but I definitely had my fair share of interactions that were not of the positive sort,” Caruth added.
Seeing more people who look like him in and around racing, even if not behind the wheel, has been encouraging, he said.
“There aren’t really many of us drivers, but there are a lot of us behind the scenes,” said Caruth. “It’s good to be on pit road and see Mike Metcalf and Tigger and everybody on pit road, you know, people of color that you know got my back. And it’s cool to see them whenever I go to a cup race.”

In 2010, NASCAR launched its Drive for Diversity Development Program, which includes Caruth now and, previously, Wallace. And in 2017, the program hired Jusan Hamilton, the first Black race director.
Caruth said he knows how to become a champion driver: “You can’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“People will say, ‘Oh, you don’t have experience, or, you know, you’re this, that, and the other,'” he continued. “You really just have to stay focused. If you know you can drive, then go show it. If you stay true to yourself and make sure you surround yourself with your family, with good people, you’ll be able to do great things.”

Cairo’s long-decrepit Baron Empain Palace is now newly renovated and open to the public.