COVID-19 relief set to expire, new Epstein-Maxwell correspondence revealed and three former presidents honor John Lewis

President Donald Trump's suggestion to 'delay the election' was rejected by leaders across the political spectrum.
Image:  Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top government health officials will testify before Congress today on the Trump administration's coronavirus response as the number of positive cases and the death toll in the U.S. keeps climbing.Carlos Barria / Reuters

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

A financial lifeline for many Americans battered by the coronavirus pandemic is set to expire today. Lawmakers had spent the week negotiating another round of aid, but came to no resolution.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.


$600 unemployment benefits expire, posing fresh danger to Trump re-election

A crucial week on Capitol Hill that began with a rocky Republican rollout of a coronavirus relief package ended with a complete breakdown in negotiations.

The Senate left town Thursday for a long weekend with no action on COVID-19 relief — all but ensuring that a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit would expire on Friday.

The payment has been a financial lifeline for more than 20 million out-of-work Americans. Its expiration comes one day after the U.S. recorded its worst quarterly economic contraction ever — during a week when the national death toll from the virus topped 153,000, according to NBC News' count.

The grim news leaves President Donald Trump in an increasingly precarious position as he mounts his re-election campaign.

Here are some other coronavirus developments:


Republican leaders reject Trump's suggestion to 'Delay the Election'

Several Republican senators politely rejected President Donald Trump's suggestion Thursday to "Delay the Election" beyond Nov. 3.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close Trump ally, gave the idea a thumbs-down. "I don't think that's a particularly good idea," he said.

"The election is not going to be delayed," said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Besides, it's not Trump's call anyway: The president has no power to delay an election. Only Congress can change the date for the general election for president under the Constitution.

"The president's tweet is more an attempt to (improperly, and without any evidence) denigrate the election we're going to have than a real attempt to postpone," Justin Levitt, a constitutional law and democracy expert at Loyola Law School, said in a text message.

But the biggest risk of a pandemic-induced crush of mail-in votes isn't fraud, an extraordinarily rare occurrence in American elections, NBC News contributor David Wasserman writes in a news analysis. The real danger is a perfect catastrophe of administrative overload, postal delays and voter error that could lead to millions of absentee ballots not counting. And this year, unlike the past, those ballots are likely to be overwhelmingly Democratic.


Unsealed documents show Epstein, Maxwell correspondence in 2015

A trove of court documents unsealed Thursday night appear to show that the late, accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was in contact with his now-charged confidant, Ghislaine Maxwell, in 2015.

Attorneys for Maxwell, who was arrested July 2, have argued that she hadn't had any contact with Epstein for more than a decade, and is the target of overzealous prosecutors.

The documents released Thursday night have been under seal for years, but Judge Loretta Preska last week ruled that a batch of documents from the case, including a deposition of Maxwell and correspondence between Maxwell and Epstein, could be released.

In one typo-filled email sent by Epstein to Maxwell in 2015, he wrote: "You have done nothing wrong and i woudl urge you to start acting like it. go outside, head high, not as an esacping convict. go to parties. deal with it."


Three former presidents paid tribute to John Lewis as the 'founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America'

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton praised the late Rep. John Lewis at his funeral Thursday as a leader of the American civil rights movement who transformed the nation as a "founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America."

Obama gave a searing eulogy for Lewis, urging Americans to honor the legacy of a civil rights giant by engaging in the "good trouble" that leads to a more perfect democracy.

The country's first Black president said he was there because he owed a debt to the 16-term congressman and his "forceful vision of freedom."

Hours before the funeral began, The New York Times put out an essay written by Lewis shortly before he died that he asked to be published on the day of his funeral.

In the essay he wrote: "Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed."

Listen: In the latest episode of our "Into America" podcast, host Trymaine Lee discusses the ongoing struggle for full voting rights for Black Americans.


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Plus


THINK about it

My dad George Soros is white supremacists' favorite target. But they won't stop us, Alexander Soros writes in an opinion piece.


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One interesting thing

Netflix's "Love on the Spectrum" is a welcome update to the reality TV dating show troupe, cultural critic Lexi Lane writes in an opinion piece.

The show, which is built around a cast of Australian singles on the autism spectrum, makes a real effort to showcase their experiences, as well as to destigmatize a commonly misunderstood, misdiagnosed and deeply maligned condition.

Netflix's "Love on the Spectrum" updates both reality dating shows and portrayals of autism. Netflix

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

I am going to be out for the next two weeks in an attempt to have a summer holiday. My colleague Rachel Elbaum will be at the helm of the Morning Rundown. Stay safe and healthy! Petra

P.S. As always, if you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com