Trump classified docs hearing and USC student not charged in fatal stabbing: Morning Rundown

The judge in Trump’s classified documents trial is being criticized by legal scholars for her conduct. A secret recording reveals what Texas church employees were told after child sex abuse allegations surfaced against their pastor. And a college student won’t be charged in the fatal stabbing of a car burglary suspect. 

Here’s what to know today.

Legal experts accuse judge of dragging out Trump classified documents trial

Judge Aileen Cannon and Donald Trump.USDC for the Southern District of Florida; AP file

A trial date for former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case hasn’t been set, and there isn’t one in sight — but there are several hearings on the calendar. 

Judge Aileen Cannon will consider in a hearing today whether special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment in the case was proper under the Constitution. Next week, there are at least two more hearings — one challenging how Smith’s office has been funded, and the other about whether testimony from Trump’s lawyer should be allowed. They are the sorts of motions some criminal law experts say few judges would have entertained during lengthy hearings. Instead, they say, Cannon could have read the legal briefs and issued a ruling.

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By continuing to require hours of court time for almost every matter of dispute, Cannon is playing into the Trump team’s strategy of delaying a trial in this case until after the election.

“It’s like death by a thousand cuts,” said Joyce Vance, an MSNBC legal contributor and a former U.S. attorney. 

Read the full story here.

Gateway Church elder said accepting resignation of pastor in sex abuse scandal was ‘difficult’

Robert Morris, founding pastor of the megachurch Gateway, delivers a sermon at the church in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2018.
Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times / Redux Pictures

Employees at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, learned at a meeting this week that senior pastor Robert Morris was resigning, days after decades-old child sex abuse allegations surfaced. Audio shared with NBC News revealed a member of Gateway’s board of elders delivered the news through tears and with an acknowledgment that church officials had long known that Morris had admitted to sexual misconduct when he was young.

“What we did not know was that she was 12 years old,” Kenneth W. Fambro II said. He also said that accepting Morris’ resignation was “one of the most difficult decisions in my life.”

The recording of Fambro’s remarks shows the deeply conflicted feelings of church leaders as they come to terms with the knowledge that their founding pastor — the man who’d built Gateway into one the largest megachurches in America and served on Trump’s spiritual advisory board — had confessed to engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a child.

Cindy Clemishire, the woman who accused Morris of molesting her, disputed the notion that Morris had been transparent. Meanwhile, some Gateway parishioners and staff members viewed the statement itself as a moral failure. Read the full story and hear excerpts of the audio.

No letup from extreme heat for much of the eastern U.S. 

There will be no letup from the sweltering heat wave frazzling much of the eastern United States today, with tens of millions of people under heat warnings.

Record-setting temperatures baked much of New England and parts of the Midwest yesterday, with 65 million people under heat alerts. Heat indexes — which factor in temperature and humidity — hit between 100 and 110 degrees in some places. 

Parts of the Northeast were set to get some relief, with highs in the 70s and 80s, according to the National Weather Service. But the temperature is forecast to rise in the mid-Atlantic, through the mid-90s today and perhaps into the 100s tomorrow, “with record-tying/breaking temperatures possible,” the forecaster said.

What makes this heat wave so punishing, meteorologists say, is that nighttime lows are also stubbornly high, giving the body little time to recover from the day’s sweltering conditions. 

Donald Sutherland remembered for ‘a life well lived’

Donald Sutherland, the influential actor who graced film and television screens for decades, died at the age of 88 after a long illness. Sutherland rose to fame in the late 1960s and early ’70s with film roles in “The Dirty Dozen” and “M*A*S*H,” and he became a household name across generations with roles in movies ranging from the horror thriller “Don’t Look Now” to “The Hunger Games” franchise. He won two Golden Globes, and was given an honorary Academy Award in 2017.

In announcing Sutherland’s death, actor Kiefer Sutherland wrote of his father: “He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask more than that. A life well lived.” Read the full obituary.

USC student won’t be charged in fatal stabbing

A 19-year-old University of Southern California student will not be charged in the fatal stabbing of a car burglary suspect this week near campus, prosecutors said. According to a charge evaluation worksheet produced by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the student, identified as Ivan Gallegos, should not be charged mainly because he was acting in self-defense. He and two other witnesses said they heard the man say he had a gun, according to the document. 

The incident happened Monday night, when Gallegos and two others confronted the suspect in an alley at USC’s Greek Row after they heard a car alarm go off, authorities said. Soon after, the confrontation turned violent.

Politics in Brief 

Request denied: An appeals court denied former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s request to remain out of prison while he appeals his conviction on contempt of Congress charges. 

Campaign filings: Businessman Timothy Mellon donated $50 million to a super PAC supporting Trump, while billionaire Michael Bloomberg gave almost $20 million to President Joe Biden’s top super PAC. See how much other megadonors gave.

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Staff Pick: A school year under ‘Don’t Say Gay’

Noah, 13, a transgender middle schooler in Asheville.
Noah, 13, a transgender middle schooler in Asheville.Courtesy of family

While Florida may be the state best known for the law critics call “Don’t Say Gay,” North Carolina and several other states also quietly enacted laws that limit how gender identity and sexual orientation are taught and addressed in public schools. NBC News correspondent Maura Barrett spoke with students in Asheville about what their past school year was like under the new restrictions. “Kids can be cruel,” one 17-year-old said. “Now, this opens the door for queer students to be looked down upon.”

— Joy Y. Wang, senior editorial director

NBC Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Cute summer sandals with arch support are hard to find, but NBC Select editors found a few podiatrist-approved options that fit the bill. Summer also means white sneaker season, and cleaning experts say there’s a right way to keep them looking pristine.

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for hands-on product reviews, expert shopping tips and a look at the best deals and sales each week.

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