Revealing new police audio on Breonna Taylor's death, 'Glee' actress missing and Supreme Court rulings on Trump taxes expected

How schools reopen in the fall has become one of the most consequential issues in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: New York City School Prepares For Virtual Graduation
A teacher collects personal belongings and supplies for remote teaching in New York City in early June. How schools reopen in the fall is still TBA, frustrating parents, teachers, administrators and kids.Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

NBC News has obtained revealing new audio of police interviews after Breonna Taylor's death, the great school reopening debate is leaving parents wary and confused, and authorities are search for "Glee" actress Naya Rivera.

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


New audio of police interviews sheds light on police probe of fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor

Previously unheard audio of interviews from the investigation of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor reveals new details about the events leading to her death, as well as the sympathetic approach investigators took while scrutinizing one of their own.

In the interview with Louisville police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who led the late-night raid in March, the investigator questioning him describes a raid involving at least seven officers and a battering ram as "the most passive way in" and says Mattingly "rightfully" returned fire after Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired a shot.

In his interview, Mattingly insists officers knocked and announced themselves when they arrived after midnight on March 13.

In Walker’s interview with investigators, however, he says there was banging on the door but the couple never heard anyone say “police.” Walker says that after he and Taylor asked who it was and got no response he reached for his licensed firearm.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, died after she was hit at least eight times during the ensuing shootout.

Listen to the police interviews NBC News obtained. Click to listen to Mattingly and Walker's recording.

Breonna Taylor’s name became a rallying cry during recent national protests against the police killings of Blacks.Jason Connolly / AFP via Getty Images file

U.S. officials say intelligence on Russian bounties was less than conclusive. That misses the big picture.

A growing chorus of American officials have said in recent days that the intelligence suggesting Russians paid "bounties" to induce the Taliban to kill American service members in Afghanistan is less than conclusive.

But the debate about that narrow and contested issue distracts from a larger, often-overlooked consensus, current and former military and intelligence officials say.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed for years that Vladimir Putin's Russia is supporting America's enemies in Afghanistan with cash and weapons.

Yet President Donald Trump has said nothing publicly about it, even as he has pursued warmer relations with Putin and Russia, including ordering his intelligence agencies to cooperate with Russia in the Middle East.

The issue of Russia's alleged support for killing Americans is expected to come up Thursday when Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley appear before the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing on the military's role in civilian law enforcement.

"We should always remember, the Russians are not our friends," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters this week. "And they are not our friends in Afghanistan." Andrew Harnik / AP

White House preps school reopening guidelines as Trump threatens funding

Whether schools reopen in the fall is one of the most consequential decisions facing Americans in the response to the pandemic.

But there is still no consensus on whether and how they will open.

President Trump has rebuffed the advice of his own health experts and threatened Wednesday to "cut off" funding for schools that do not reopen this fall.

Trump attacked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools." Now the White House is preparing to release its own reopening guidelines for schools.

And in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to bring students back part-time on Wednesday, only to have Gov. Andrew Cuomo say it was too soon to announce a plan and that a decision isn't likely until August.

All the mixed messaging is leaving parents across the country wary and confused.

Here are some other developments:

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Supreme Court decisions expected in fight over Trump's tax returns, financial records

The Supreme Court said it will announce the last of the decisions from its current term on Thursday, which almost certainly means the court will reveal its rulings on whether Congress and a New York state prosecutor can get access to President Trump's business records, including his tax returns.

The Trump rulings will be announced beginning at 10 a.m. ET. That is unless the court is unable to reach a decision and wants them held over to be reargued next term, which seems unlikely, NBC News' Justice Correspondent Pete Williams writes.

In a major decision announced Wednesday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the Trump administration to give the nation's employers more leeway in refusing to provide free birth control for their workers under the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling is a victory for the administration's plan to greatly expand the kinds of employers who can cite religious or moral objections in declining to include contraceptives in their health care plans.

The ruling has some reproductive rights advocates"terrified" about the potential harm to women.

Anti-abortion demonstrators pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)


'Glee' actress Naya Rivera missing after boating on California lake

Authorities are searching a Southern California lake for "Glee" actress Naya Rivera, who officials believe went missing while swimming Wednesday.

The 33-year-old had been boating with her son on Lake Piru, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said.

The actress rented a boat about 1 p.m, he said, and three hours, later authorities found her son napping alone on the vessel.

The police department searched for Rivera on Wednesday until it became too dark and said the search would continue at "first light."


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Plus


THINK about it

Republicans used to care about policy — but Trump's GOP set fire to that tradition, Steve Benen, a producer for "The Rachel Maddow Show," writes in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

Ready to ease back into exercise, but not sure where to begin? This 30-minute workout is perfect for beginners.


Shopping

OK, if you are going to start working out again, you're going to need a good sports bra. Here are some of the best sports bras out there.


One amazing rescue

At the scene of a devastating apartment fire, a retired Marine saved the life of a 3-year-old boy by catching him after he was thrown from the burning building.

Meanwhile another man rushed into the blaze to rescue the boy’s sister.

Video: Two strangers become heroes after saving siblings from apartment fire


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks, Petra