Russian bounty intel latest, a major blow to Hong Kong and White House panic over Trump retweet

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said he's concerned that reports Russia paid bounties for the killing of Americans may be true.
Fly-to-Advise: Marines with Task Force Southwest visit the Provincial Headquarters
A top GOP congressman briefed on the matter said lawmakers were told that no U.S. service members had died as a result of Russia's paying Afghan militants to kill them.Sgt. Justin Updegraff / U.S. Marine Corps file

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Members of Congress are learning more about the Russian bounty intelligence brief, China passed a sweeping national security law seen as a major blog to Hong Kong's autonomy and President Donald Trump set off a "five-alarm fire" in the White House when he shared a "white power" tweet.

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


Russia intel 'may have been' in Trump brief but wasn't deemed 'actionable,' top Republican says

The Trump administration told Republican members of Congress on Monday that intelligence about potential Russian bounties may have been included at some point in the President's Daily Brief but not conveyed to President Donald Trump in a formal threat briefing because it wasn't yet "actionable," the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

"I believe it may have been" in the written President's Daily Brief, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Monday.

The White House has insisted that Trump never received a "briefing" about intelligence indicating that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops.

McCaul was one of eight House Republicans briefed on the matter Monday by the White House chief of staff, national security adviser and national intelligence director. A group of eight House Democrats are set to receive a similar briefing this morning.


As states halt reopening of bars and indoor dining, health experts urge more caution

The surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has caused several states — including New Jersey, California, Texas and Florida — to halt the reopening of indoor dining at restaurants and bars.

Some public health experts and epidemiologists are urging even more caution — especially about bars.

"The highest risk for people is being in an enclosed area for a prolonged period of time. Bars are a perfect set up for that," said John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus of infectious disease and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley.

“They’re setting themselves up to harm themselves or harm others if they get infected,” he said.

Meantime, months into the pandemic that has caused more than 500,000 deaths worldwide, scientists are still trying to answer crucial questions about the coronavirus.

Chief among them: Why do only some people get sick?


'Death of Hong Kong': China passes sweeping national security law

Beijing formally enacted security laws for Hong Kong on Tuesday, according to Chinese state media, paving the way for one of the most profound changes to the governing of the territory in decades.

The law — passed on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule — will allow Beijing to set up special police and prosecution units in Hong Kong to punish crimes considered threatening to China.

The move is widely seen as a blow to the "one country, two systems" policy agreed by Britain and China in 1997 during the handover of the territory, which allowed Hong Kong to adopt a political system separate to the mainland.

"It's really the biggest crisis Hong Kong has faced in its modern history," said China-watcher Benedict Rogers. "And could well mean the death of Hong Kong as we know it."


Trump's 'white power' retweet set off 'five alarm fire' in White House

President Trump set off a "five-alarm fire" in the White House on Sunday morning after he retweeted a video of one of his supporters saying "white power," according to two White House officials.

The video remained on the president's Twitter page, where he has 82 million followers, for more than three hours because White House officials couldn't reach him to ask him to delete it, the two officials said.

The president was at his golf club in Virginia and had put his phone down, the officials said.


Supreme Court, in 5-4 ruling, strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Louisiana's tough restriction on abortions violates the Constitution, a surprising victory for abortion rights advocates from an increasingly conservative court.

The 5-4 decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court's four more liberal justices, struck down a law passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2014 that required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Its enforcement had been blocked by a protracted legal battle.

Two Louisiana doctors and a medical clinic sued to get the law overturned. They said it would leave only one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year.


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Thanks, Petra