The Countdown: Mayor's race, Biden meets with Putin and Juneteenth

NEW YORK (WABC) -- "The Countdown" is here to get you caught up with all of the day's political news.

You can watch it online, on the ABC7NY app or on our Connected TV apps for Fire, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV. Click here to learn more.

Friday, June 18



As NYC mayoral primary approaches, Eric Adams maintains lead in polls
Primary Day in New York City is just four days away, and the Democrats vying to be the next mayor of the Big Apple are making their final pitches to voters. More than 100,000 people have already taken advantage of the city's early voting, even as the implementation of ranked choice voting adds to the mystique and leaves the outcome hard to predict.

Biden announces 300M COVID-19 vaccine doses given in 150 days
President Joe Biden marked another milestone in his quest to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and help Americans return to a more normal way of life. Biden announced that 300 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the 150 days since he took office on Jan. 20.

President Obama on the keys to democracy's survival, healing racial divide
The world has and continues to change in so many monumental ways since former President Barack Obama's eight years in office. Today, he says he stays awake at night thinking about how democracy can flourish in our constantly evolving world.

Thursday, June 17



Biden signs bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday
President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president.

Biden signed into law a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday. The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to send the bill to Biden, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously the day before.

Tensions boil over as mayoral candidates debate tackling gun violence ahead of NYC primary
As primary day fast approaches, the Democratic candidates vying to be New York City's next mayor were back on the campaign trail Thursday, one day after a contentious final debate with a heavy emphasis on rising crime. All the top candidates hit the streets, trying to spin their debate performances into personal wins and capitalize on the pitfalls of their opponents.

Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act for 3rd time, preserving coverage for millions
The Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the Obama era health care law, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans. The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire law intact Thursday in ruling that Texas, other Republican-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court.

Supreme Court sides with Catholic agency in same-sex foster care dispute in Philadelphia
The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously sided with a Catholic foster care agency that says its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. The justices said the city of Philadelphia wrongly limited its relationship with the group as a result of the agency's policy.

Philadelphia violated the Constitution in limiting its work with the agency, Catholic Social Services, the court said.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill discusses the monumental event Thursday, making Juneteenth a federal holiday, plus the race for New York City mayor and latest Supreme Court decisions.



Wednesday, June 16



President Biden meets 1-on-1 with Russian President Putin for 'constructive' summit
President Joe Biden says after his meeting with President Vladimir Putin that he is "not going to walk away" from the plight of two Americans detained in Russia. Speaking to reporters, Biden says he raised the imprisonment of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed in his meeting with Putin.

NYC mayor's race: Yang touts endorsement; Adams to debut new ad
New York City's primary election is less than a week away, and the Democratic candidates vying to be the next mayor are preparing their final pushes ahead of the last debate before voters head to the polls. Early voting is already underway, with tens of thousands of New Yorkers already having cast their ballots.

ABC reporter Rachel Scott confronts Putin over crackdown on opponents: What are you so afraid of?
ABC News reporter Rachel Scott on Wednesday confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about his crackdown on political opponents.

"The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned, or jailed is long ... and you have now prevented anyone who supports Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny to run for office," Scott said. "So my question is, Mr. President, what are you so afraid of?"
EMBED More News Videos

Political reporter Dave Evans joins Bill to talk about the candidates for New York City mayor and the issues the winner will face, and what happened at Wednesday's high stakes meet



Tuesday, June 15



Biden arrives in Geneva for meeting with Vladimir Putin
Buoyed by days of partnership-building sessions with America's democratic allies, Joe Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday for the most-watched and tensest part of his first European tour as president: talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Biden is seeking to restore European ties that were strained under former President Donald Trump, who dismissed the value of NATO and other longstanding U.S. alliances and sought out Putin and other autocrats.

NYC mayor's race: Garcia takes aim at Adams, Yang focuses on crime
Primary day in the race to be New York City's next mayor is just one week away, and the candidates were back on the trail Tuesday as the race continues to heat up. Early voting entered its fourth day with more than 43,000 New Yorkers having already cast their ballot.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest in the race for New York City mayor and a preview of the highly anticipated meeting between President Biden and Vladamir Putin at the G-7 summit.



Monday, June 14



32,000 cast ballots so far in NYC early primary voting
Primary Day in New York is just over a week away, and the race to be the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor is heating up. Rising crime has been the big issue, but now, diversity is also a hot topic.

Early voting is underway, and already, some 32,000 New Yorkers have headed into the polls to cast their ballot.

Up Close: Interviews with all 8 Democratic candidates in New York City mayor's race
New York City's mayoral race is heating up, with early voting already underway ahead of the primary election of Tuesday, June 22.

The significant election, with New Yorkers choosing a new mayor for the first time in eight years, comes as the city emerges from the pandemic, with public safety and crime taking center stage in the campaign. Shootings were up last month by 73% compared to a year ago and transit crimes have nearly doubled.

Biden reaffirms US 'sacred' commitment to NATO alliance on European trip
President Joe Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO on Monday as leading members declared it a pivotal moment for an alliance beleaguered during the presidency of Donald Trump, who questioned the relevance of the multilateral organization.

Shortly after arriving at the alliance's headquarters for the first NATO summit of his presidency, Biden sat down with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and underscored the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the alliance charter, which spells out that an attack on one member is an attack on all and is to be met with a collective response.

Friday, June 11



Early voting kicks off in NYC's mayoral primary election this weekend
Early voting is set to kick off across the five boroughs Saturday in New York City's mayoral primary, and the race is heating up after the five frontrunners met for another debate on Thursday evening. It was far less heated than the first time the candidates met, though the hot topic was still on increasing crime in the city.

G-7 nations gather to pledge 1 billion COVID vaccine doses for world
Leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are set to commit at their summit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with struggling countries around the world - half the doses coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K.

Vaccine sharing commitments from U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the stage for the G-7 meeting in southwest England, where leaders will pivot Friday from opening greetings and a "family photo" directly into a session on "Building Back Better From COVID-19."

Trump's Justice Department seized data of House Democrats from Apple: Sources
Prosecutors with former President Donald Trump's Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for data from at least two Democrats who served on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as aides and their family members, one of whom was a minor, ABC News confirmed with four sources familiar with the investigation.

A House Intelligence Committee official confirmed to ABC News that Apple notified roughly a dozen people associated with the committee just last month that the DOJ issued grand jury subpoenas for their information and metadata in February 2018.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter discusses the race for New York City mayor, Biden's overseas trip and a new internal investigation involving Donald Trump.



Thursday, June 10



Maya Wiley surges in polls, takes aim at mayoral race frontrunner
The former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio has leap frogged into second place in the latest poll in the race for New York mayor, and she's taking aim at frontrunner Eric Adams.

On Thursday afternoon, Maya Wiley called herself the clear progressive in the race for mayor. And a new poll revealed her surging into second place behind Eric Adams after endorsements like the one Saturday from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Biden unveils plan for US to donate 500M more COVID-19 vaccine doses
President Joe Biden called on global leaders Thursday to join him in sharing coronavirus vaccines with struggling nations around the world after he promised the U.S. would donate 500 million doses to help speed the pandemic's end and bolster the strategic position of the world's wealthiest democracies.

Speaking in England before the summit meeting of the Group of Seven, Biden announced the U.S. commitment to vaccine sharing, which comes on top of 80 million doses he has already pledged by the end of the month. He argued it was in both America's interests and the world's to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere.

Joe Biden, Boris Johnson all smiles during 1st meeting
President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were all smiles during their first meeting, highlighting their nations' famed "special relationship" but doing so against a backdrop of differences both political and personal.

Biden hopes to use his first overseas trip as president to reassure European allies that the United States had shed the transactional tendencies of Donald Trump's term and is a reliable partner again. He and Johnson immediately struck a tone of conviviality as the news media watched.

French man gets 4-month prison sentence for slapping Macron
A 28-year-old Frenchman who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right "patriot" was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday for slapping President Emmanuel Macron in the face.

Damien Tarel was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years over the swipe Tuesday, which caught Macron's left cheek with an audible thwack as the French leader was greeting a crowd.

Wednesday, June 9



Eric Adams emotional after opponents question his Brooklyn residency
Eric Adams is feeling the political heat as frontrunner in the Democratic primary race for New York City mayor, after his opponents questioned whether he lives in Brooklyn or New Jersey.

It was an Eric Adams we have never seen before -- openly weeping with his son, Jordan, at his side, in front of a three-unit Bedford Stuyvesant apartment he's owned for almost 20 years -- explaining why he's so secretive about where he lives.

Chartered plane overrun by cicadas delays White House press ahead of Biden overseas trip
Reporters traveling to the United Kingdom for President Joe Biden's first overseas trip were delayed seven hours after their chartered plane was overrun by cicadas.

The Washington, D.C., area is among the many parts of the country that have been swarmed by Brood X cicadas, a large emergence of the loud 17-year insects that take to dive-bombing onto moving vehicles and unsuspecting passersby.

Biden to assure US allies, meet Putin on 1st overseas trip
President Joe Biden opened the first overseas trip of his term Wednesday with a declaration that "the United States is back" as he seeks to reassert the nation on the world stage and steady European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor.

Biden has set the stakes for his eight-day trip in sweeping terms, believing the West must publicly demonstrate it can compete economically with China as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It is an open repudiation of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who scorned alliances and withdrew from a global climate change agreement that Biden has since rejoined.

Biden revokes Trump executive orders targeting TikTok, WeChat
President Joe Biden on Thursday revoked a series of executive orders signed during the Trump administration targeting TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese apps, and replaced them with a new executive order addressing apps linked to foreign adversaries, including China.

Thursday's order is aimed at protecting Americans' personal data, according to a White House news release, and orders the Commerce Department to develop criteria for assessing potential national security risks associated with apps that are "owned, controlled, or managed by persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, or are involved in malicious cyber activities, or involve applications that collect sensitive personal data."
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on the race for New York City mayor and New Jersey governor, as well as President Biden's first overseas trip.



Tuesday, June 8



NYC mayor race: Eric Adams calls Maya Wiley hypocrite after questioning police funding
Democratic candidate for New York City mayor Eric Adams is calling out one of his opponents for being a hypocrite. Adams says while Maya Wiley is questioning how the police department is funded, her historic mansion in Brooklyn is protected by private security patrols.

First (and possibly last) review of Jan. 6 attack at US Capitol finds sweeping government failures
A Senate investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has uncovered broad government, military and law enforcement missteps before the violent attack, including a breakdown within multiple intelligence agencies and a lack of training and preparation for Capitol Police officers who were quickly overwhelmed by the rioters.

The Senate report released Tuesday is the first - and could be the last - bipartisan review of how hundreds of former President Donald Trump's supporters were able to violently push past security lines and break into the Capitol that day, interrupting the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

New Jersey's GOP voters pick challenger to Gov. Murphy in today's primary
It is Primary Day in New Jersey. Voters in the Garden State will decide their candidates for the fall election in the race for governor and in every seat in the Democrat-led state Legislature.

'Do not come' - VP Kamala Harris in Guatemala trip has stern warning for migrants
Vice President Kamala Harris offered an optimistic outlook for improved cooperation with Guatemala on addressing the spike in migration to the U.S. after her meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday. She also delivered a direct warning to migrants considering making the trek: "Do not come. Do not come."
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on the race for New York City mayor, Vice President Harris' trip to Mexico and a new report investigating the January 6, Capitol siege.



Monday, June 7



NYC mayoral race: With days left until early voting begins, endorsements hit high gear
With less than a week to go until early voting starts for NYC mayor, the endorsement race has hit high gear. On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams earned the support of his Queens counterpart, Donovan Richards. Queens is reeling from a blood-soaked weekend that ended in the death of a 10-year-old boy.

Supreme Court rules against immigrants with temporary status
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that thousands of people living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons are ineligible to apply to become permanent residents. Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that federal immigration law prohibits people who entered the country illegally and now have Temporary Protected Status from seeking "green cards" to remain in the country permanently.

Supreme Court won't review men-only draft registration law
The Supreme Court said Monday that for now it'll be up to Congress, not the court, to decide whether to change the requirement that only men must register for the draft. It's one of the few areas of federal law where men and women are still treated differently. In a statement, three justices said Congress is weighing whether to change the Military Selective Service Act, which requires men but not women to register for the draft when they turn 18. They said that was a reason for the court to kick the matter back to lawmakers.

Cuomo says once state hits 70% vaccination rate, most restrictions can be lifted
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York state will be able to lift most COVID restrictions across commercial and social settings when the vaccination rate hits 70%. When 70% of New Yorkers have received at least one dosage, Cuomo says "we can relax virtually all restrictions."

Part of cyberattack ransom recovered after Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million, officials say
The Justice Department has recovered the majority of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment to hackers after a cyberattack that caused the operator of the nation's largest fuel pipeline to halt its operations last month, officials said Monday.

The operation to recover the cryptocurrency from the Russia-based hacker group is the first undertaken by a specialized ransomware task force created by the Biden administration Justice Department, and reflects what U.S. officials say is an increasingly aggressive approach to deal with a ransomware threat that in the last month has targeted critical industries around the world.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on the New York City mayoral race, Vice President Harris' message to Central Americans and Trump's attempts at a comeback.



Friday, June 4



Facebook says Trump now suspended until at least January 2023
Facebook announced Friday that former President Donald Trump would be suspended from its platform until at least January 7th, 2023 -- two years from when he was initially suspended. Facebook said it will then assess the circumstances to see if he should be allowed back on.

Pence: I'll likely never see eye to eye with fmr. President Trump on Jan. 6
Former Vice President Mike Pence says that he isn't sure that he and former President Donald Trump will ever see "eye to eye" over what happened on Jan. 6 but that he would "always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years."

Pence, speaking at a Republican dinner Thursday in the early-voting state of New Hampshire, gave his most extensive comments to date on the events of Jan. 6, when angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, some chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" after the vice president said he did not have the power to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.

Trump's former White House counsel to appear before House committee after 2-year battle
The House Judiciary Committee is poised to question former White House counsel Don McGahn behind closed doors on Friday, two years after House Democrats originally sought his testimony as part of investigations into former President Donald Trump.

The long-awaited interview is the result of an agreement reached last month in federal court. House Democrats - then investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct the Justice Department's probes into his presidential campaign's ties to Russia - originally sued after McGahn defied an April 2019 subpoena on Trump's orders.
EMBED More News Videos

Political insiders join Bill Ritter to discuss the race for New York City mayor and the latest headlines surrounding Donald Trump.



Thursday, June 3



Democratic candidates for NYC mayor back on the trail after tense, fiery WABC debate
The Democratic candidates in the race to be New York City's next mayor fanned out across the Big Apple Thursday, trying to win over voters one day after sparks flew during the first in-person debate, hosted by WABC. Primary day is less than three weeks away, and the gloves are coming off as the race heats up.

White House pushes for companies to take ransomware more seriously after high-profile cyberattacks
The White House has issued a rare open letter to companies calling on them to treat the threat of ransomware attacks with greater urgency, following back-to-back attacks by Russian hackers on key oil and food processing companies.

In a memo sent out Thursday morning, the National Security Council's top cyber official, Anne Neuberger, writes to corporate executives and business leaders that the private sector needs to better understand its critical role.

US vaccination rate drops, President Biden declares 'National Month of Action'
President Biden has declared June a "National Month of Action" for vaccinations. It comes as fewer people are getting the shots and the president is now one month away from his self-imposed July 4th deadline to get at least one dose of the vaccine in 70% of Americans. The U.S. vaccination rate went from 3.3 million doses a day to 1.1.million a day.

Benjamin Netanyahu opponents push for quick vote to end his 12-year rule as prime minister
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponents pushed Thursday for a quick parliament vote to formally end his lengthy rule, hoping to head off any last-minute attempts to derail their newly announced coalition government.

The latest political maneuvering began just hours after opposition leader Yair Lapid and his main coalition partner, Naftali Bennett, declared they had reached a deal to form a new government and muster a majority in the 120-member Knesset, or parliament.

Trump increasingly talking like he plans to mount 2024 presidential run
Donald Trump was calling into yet another friendly radio show when he was asked, as he often is, whether he's planning a comeback bid for the White House. "We need you," conservative commentator Dan Bongino told the former president.

"Well, I'll tell you what," Trump responded. "We are going to make you very happy, and we're going to do what's right."
EMBED More News Videos

Political insiders Rick Klein and Hank Sheinkopf weigh in on Wednesday night's in-person mayoral primary debate hosted by WABC.



Friday, May28



GOP blocks bipartisan probe of deadly Jan. 6 riot at Capitol
Senate Republicans on Friday blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to study the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, turning aside the independent investigation in a show of party loyalty to former President Donald Trump and an effort to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.

The Senate vote was 54-35 - short of the 60 votes needed to take up a House-passed bill that would have formed a 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties. It came a day after emotional appeals from police who fought with the rioters and lawmakers who fled Capitol chambers that day.

Biden to sign order establishing White House AAPI initiative
President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Friday renewing a White House initiative charged with advancing "equity, justice, and opportunity" for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, including coordinating a "comprehensive" federal response to the rise in anti-Asian violence and discrimination.

"... For far too long, systemic barriers to equity, justice, and opportunity have put the American dream out of reach for many AA and NHPI communities, and racism, nativism, and xenophobia against AA and NHPI communities continues to threaten safety and dignity of AA and NHPI families," the White House said in a fact sheet released Friday.
EMBED More News Videos

TODAY IN POLITICS: Bill details Senate Republicans' blocking of the creation of a bipartisan panel to study the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Plus, the latest on the New York City mayor's race and ranked-choice voting.



Thursday, May27



White House to propose $6 trillion budget for 2022
The White House on Friday will propose a $6 trillion budget for the 2022 fiscal year, a senior administration official tells CNN, as President Joe Biden prepares to outline his spending blueprint for the first time in his formal request to Congress.

The budget proposal calls for the most sustained spending in more than a half-century, which forecasts deficits at more than $1 trillion for at least the next decade. The budget proposed by the White House is the President's opening offer to Congress in negotiations over the federal budget and is expected to change before being signed into law.

How will the next NYC mayor deal with the NYPD? Adams addresses PBA comment
How will the next mayor of New York City deal with the NYPD? That question was front and center Thursday in the race to be the city's 110th mayor. As violent crime spikes across the city, Eric Adams, a former police captain, has painted himself as the law and order candidate, but he's also vowed to reform and rein in abusive police tactics like stop and frisk.

Sheriff: Sam Cassidy, gunman who killed 9 in San Jose railyard shooting, appeared to target victims
A California sheriff says a gunman who killed nine people in a rail yard massacre had fired 39 shots and appeared to target some of the victims. Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith told The Associated Press on Thursday that the shooter told at least one person: "I'm not going to shoot you" at a light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose.

Republicans poised to stamp out creation of Jan. 6 Capitol attack commission with filibuster
Senate Republicans are ready to deploy the filibuster to block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection, shattering hopes for a bipartisan probe of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and reviving pressure on Democrats to do away with the procedural tactic that critics say has lost its purpose.

The vote Thursday would be the first successful use of a filibuster this year to halt Senate legislative action. Most Republicans oppose the bill, which would establish a commission to investigate the attack by Donald Trump supporters over the election.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill has more on a Republican effort to block the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. Plus, Trump and Giuliani's efforts to dismiss lawsuits against them.


Wednesday, May 26



Republican senators ready $1T infrastructure counteroffer to Biden
Senate Republicans revived negotiations over President Joe Biden's sweeping investment plan, preparing a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal that would be funded with COVID-19 relief money as a counteroffer to the White House ahead of a Memorial Day deadline toward a bipartisan deal.

The Republicans said Tuesday they would disclose details of the new offer by Thursday, sounding upbeat after both sides had panned other offers.

House GOP leaders condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene over comparing mask rules to Holocaust
House Republican leaders forcefully condemned GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday, calling her comments comparing House COVID-19 safety rules like mask-wearing to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany "appalling." The freshman Georgia congresswoman's comments belittled "the greatest atrocity committed in history," said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Manhattan DA convenes special grand jury in Trump proble, NY AG also investigating
The Manhattan District Attorney's office has convened the special grand jury that would decide whether an indictment is warranted against former President Trump or his eponymous company, sources told ABC News. Prosecutors have been using previously empaneled grand juries to issue subpoenas and gather evidence in an investigation that has spanned the better part of two years.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on a deadly mass shooting at a rail yard in California, plus investigations into a lab in Wuhan and Governor Cuomo.



Tuesday, May 25



Manhattan DA convenes special grand jury to decide on Trump indictment: ABC News
The Manhattan District Attorney's office has convened the special grand jury that would decide whether an indictment is warranted against former President Trump or his eponymous company, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Prosecutors have been using previously empaneled grand juries to issue subpoenas and gather evidence in an investigation that has spanned the better part of two years.

NYC marks 1 year since murder of George Floyd with solemn observances, protests
The life of George Floyd - and his death seen on video around the world - will be remembered and acknowledged today in New York City and across the country. A full day of protests are scheduled for Tuesday marking one year since the murder of Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

White House: Joe Biden to meet Vladimir Putin face-to-face next month for Geneva summit
President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin agreed Tuesday to meet next month in Geneva, a face-to-face encounter the White House hopes will help bring some predictability to a fraught relationship that's only worsened in the first months of the Democratic administration.

The June 16 summit is being tacked on to the end of Biden's first international trip as president: He'll also visit Britain for a meeting of Group of Seven world leaders and attend a NATO summit in Brussels.

US will make 'significant contributions' to rebuilding Gaza, Blinken says
The United States will make "significant contributions" to rebuild Gaza and reopen its consulate in Jerusalem following the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the first day of his first official visit to the region. Blinken, speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, said the US would "work to ensure that Hamas does not benefit" from the aid.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill has the latest on investigations surrounding Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, plus George Floyd's family visits President Biden Tuesday.



Monday, May 24



Belarus condemned for 'hijacking' commercial airplane to detain journalist
Ryanair flight 4978 was about to begin its descent to Vilnius in Lithuania on Sunday when it suddenly changed direction after a "security alert," turning sharply east and descending towards the capital of Belarus, Minsk.

Whether that security alert was a fabrication by the Belarus authorities is now at the heart of an incident that has sparked widespread international condemnation and raised serious questions about safety in the skies. Some governments have described the incident as a state-sanctioned hijacking.

Crime takes center stage as race for NYC mayor heats up
Gun crimes are once again running rampant in New York City, with another violent weekend in the nation's largest city after 26 people were shot in 22 incidents. And for many, it feels like a lifetime ago that the Big Apple bragged about being the safety metropolis in America. With crime now at the forefront of the race for mayor, the candidates are chiming in with what they'd do to fight the issue.

US to push Israel-Hamas peace talks after Gaza truce
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the Middle East to press the Israelis, Palestinians and regional players to build on last week's Gaza cease-fire by laying the groundwork for an eventual resumption in long-stalled peace talks.

President Joe Biden announced Blinken would depart on Monday for a short visit to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt for what will be the Biden administration's highest-level in-person meetings on the crisis that erupted earlier this month.

Friday, May 21



Biden bestows Medal of Honor on Korean War veteran Col. Ralph Puckett Jr.
President Joe Biden awarded his first Medal of Honor on Friday to a 94-year-old retired Army colonel for bravery under enemy fire more than a half-century ago in the Korean War. It took a policy change for retired Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. to receive the military's highest honor. The 2020 defense policy bill removed a requirement that such awards be given within five years of a valorous act.

Palestinians see victory in Gaza truce as Israel vows 'new level of force' to further attacks
Palestinians rallied by the thousands early Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel vowed to respond with a "new level of force" to any further hostilities.

The 11-day war left more than 200 dead - the vast majority Palestinians - and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Amid recent stumbles, Andrew Yang faces questions about whether he's ready to be NYC's mayor
It has been a big question about Andrew Yang for weeks, is he ready to be mayor? He has stumbled a lot lately. On Thursday, when asked by reporters, Yang seemed to know little about 50-a, police policy that kept disciplinary records secret.

He was also confused about the city's chokehold policy and he stumbled at a forum on homeless issues. "One thing I think would be extraordinarily helpful is to have specific shelters for victims of domestic violence, Yang said.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter and political guests discuss President Biden's struggle to unite Democrats and Republicans on the nation's many issues.



Thursday, May 20



Israel, Hamas agree to cease-fire to end bloody 11-day war
Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire Thursday, ending a bruising 11-day war that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life in much of Israel to a standstill.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. Hamas quickly followed suit and said it would honor the deal.

Biden signs bill aimed at addressing rise in anti-Asian hate crimes
President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday that's aimed at countering a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that's come during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden has previously urged Congress to pass the legislation, called the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill will create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite review of potential Covid-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level.

Stringer, Adams & Yang hit campaign trail ahead of election day
The next mayor of New York City is facing the biggest challenges perhaps of any mayor and the field of candidates is the most diverse ever. At Yankee Stadium on Thursday morning, Eric Adams picked up the endorsement of United Local 100, a union of airport and food service workers.

And a half hour later, Scott Stringer blasted two Republican donors. One of them bought a $200 million apartment on Central Park.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill has more on the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Governor Cuomo's response to questions about his book and the latest on the New York City mayoral race.



Wednesday, May 19



Airstrikes kill 6, level home in Gaza; Biden tells Israel PM he expects 'significant de-escalation'
Israeli airstrikes killed at least six people across the Gaza Strip and destroyed the home of an extended family early Wednesday. The military said it widened its strikes in the Palestinian territory's south to blunt continuing rocket fire from Hamas, while a separate barrage also came from Lebanon.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expects a "significant de-escalation" Wednesday on the path to a cease-fire with Hamas.

NY Attorney General opens criminal investigation into Trump Organization
The New York Attorney General's investigation into the Trump Organization has now evolved to include potential crimes, according to a spokesman. The office has been investigating possible civil violations by the Trump Organization over the way it valued holdings as it sought loans and tax benefits.

Mitch McConnell says he'll oppose Jan. 6 commission to investigate Jan.6 Capitol riot
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he will oppose legislation to create a commission on the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a blow to Democrats who say an independent, bipartisan investigation of the siege is crucial to prevent it from happening again.

The Republican leader's opposition comes a day after he said he was "open" to the bill that the House is expected to pass Wednesday. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has also said he will not support the legislation.
EMBED More News Videos

Dr. Jen Ashton joins Bill Ritter to discuss the effects that the COVID pandemic has had on mental health as the Tri-State officially begins to reopen.



Tuesday, May 18



Andrew Giuliani, son of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announces run for New York governor
Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announced Tuesday that he is running for governor, joining Lee Zeldin and Rob Astornio as Republican challengers to third term incumbent Andrew Cuomo. Giuliani, 35, told ABC News said last month that he was "strongly considering" a run and that he would be meeting with New York Republican county chairs in the coming weeks.

Biden announces US will share more COVID-19 vaccines globally
President Joe Biden said Monday that his administration will share millions more doses of COVID-19 vaccines with other countries in addition to the 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine he has already committed to sharing by July 4.

Biden said the US will share at least 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next month, totaling 80 million doses that are set to be sent abroad. Those additional 20 million doses will consist of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well as AstraZeneca, which has to be approved by federal regulators before being shipped overseas. That effort is underway.

Strike from Gaza kills 2 as Israel topples 6-story building
A strike launched from Gaza killed two Thai workers in southern Israel on Tuesday, police said, hours after Israeli airstrikes toppled a six-story building in the Palestinian territory that housed bookstores and educational centers. With the war showing no sign of abating, Palestinians across the region went on a general strike in a rare collective action against Israel's policies.

Violence erupted at protests in the occupied West Bank, including at one in the city of Ramallah. Hundreds of Palestinians burned tires and hurled stones toward an Israeli military checkpoint. Troops fired tear gas canisters at the crowd and protesters picked up some of them and threw them back.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter discusses the continuing crisis in the Middle East, another recount in Arizona and Andrew Giuliani's run for New York governor.



Monday, May 17



Biden expresses 'support' for Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire in Netanyahu call
President Joe Biden expressed support for a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the eighth day of air strikes and rocket barrages that have killed at least 200 people, most of them Palestinians in Gaza.

Biden stopped short of joining the growing demands from Democrats and others for an immediate cease-fire in the fighting. But the White House readout of the call showed increased White House concern that the fighting - including Israeli airstrikes aimed at weakening Hamas - come to an end, while still expressing support for Israel.

Cuomo set to earn $5M payday from memoir on COVID-19 crisis
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo disclosed Monday that he was paid a $3.1 million advance to write his COVID-19 leadership book last year and under his publishing contract will make another $2 million on the memoir over the next two years.

The Democrat had, for months, declined to say how much money he made from writing "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic."

Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg pleads guilty to sex trafficking charges
A Florida politician who emerged as a central figure in the Justice Department's sex trafficking investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz pleaded guilty Monday to six federal charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a plea deal.

Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, appeared in federal court in Orlando. He pleaded guilty to six of the nearly three dozen charges he faced, including sex trafficking of a minor, and he admitted that he had paid at least one underage girl to have sex with him and other men.

Gov. Cuomo announces New York to adopt CDC mask guidelines for fully vaccinated
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York state will end mask mandates and adopt CDC guidelines for the fully vaccinated effective Wednesday. Cuomo says following the CDC guidance, immunocompromised people and unvaccinated people should wear a mask and social distance.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on the Middle East crisis, the investigation into Matt Gaetz and the shocking amount Governor Cuomo is making of his pandemic book.



Friday, May 14



Israel-Palestine conflict latest: Deaths rise as Palestinians flee heavy Israeli fire in Gaza
Thousands of Palestinians grabbed children and belongings and fled their homes Friday as Israel barraged the northern Gaza Strip with tank fire and airstrikes, killing a family of six in their house and heavily damaging other neighborhoods in what it said was an operation to clear militant tunnels.

As international efforts at a cease-fire stepped up, Israel appeared to be looking to inflict intensified damage on the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

House Republicans vote to replace Cheney with Trump defender Stefanik
Republicans vaulted Rep. Elise Stefanik into the ranks of House leadership Friday, electing an ardent Donald Trump defender in hopes of calming their searing civil war over the deposed Rep. Liz Cheney's unremitting combat with the former president.

Stefanik, R-N.Y., a moderate turned Trump loyalist who's given voice to many of his false claims about election fraud, was elected as expected to the No. 3 post that Cheney, R-Wyo., held for over two years.

House panel reaches agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection commission
The top Democratic and Republican members of the House Homeland Security Committee have reached an agreement on legislation to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The measure had stalled amid partisan differences.

Under the terms of the agreement announced Friday, the commission would have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, five from each party. It would have subpoena power and be charged with issuing a final report by Dec. 31, along with recommendations to prevent future attacks.

Mask-wearing update in NY, NJ and CT: What to know
The CDC announced new mask guidance Thursday that allows for fully vaccinated individual to safely discard their masks in most cases, but it leaves it up to states, cities, and businesses to dictate their own rules. So far, New York and New Jersey do not appear to be in a rush to make any changes in mask-wearing policies. But it's a different story in Connecticut.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter discusses the deadly violence between Israel and Hamas, Liz Cheney's replacement and mask-wearing policies in the Tri-State.



Thursday, May 13



CDC: Fully vaccinated people can ditch masks indoors - most of the time
In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. "Today is a great day for America," President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address heralding the new guidance.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues - even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

Biden signs executive order to beef up federal cyber defenses following pipeline hack
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday meant to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses in response to a series of headline-grabbing hacking incidents that highlight how vulnerable the country's public and private sectors are to high-tech spies and criminals operating from half a world away.

The order will require all federal agencies to use basic cybersecurity measures, like multi-factor authentication, and require new security standards for software makers that contract with the federal government.

Israel threatens Gaza ground invasion despite truce efforts
Israel on Thursday said it was massing troops along the Gaza frontier and calling up 9,000 reservists ahead of a possible ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled territory, as the two bitter enemies plunged closer to all-out war. Egyptian mediators rushed to Israel for cease-fire efforts but showed no signs of progress.

The stepped-up fighting came as communal violence in Israel erupted for a fourth night, with Jewish and Arab mobs clashing in the flashpoint town of Lod. The fighting took place despite a bolstered police presence ordered by the nation's leaders.

NYC mayoral race heats up with 6 weeks to go before primary
With less than six weeks to go, the Democratic primary that may decide the next mayor of New York City has reached a new stage of unpredictability. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is clinging to front-runner status while City Comptroller Scott Stringer fights off a sexual misconduct allegation.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former police officer and founder of a law enforcement reform group, has seen his standing rise amid concern over a spike in shootings during the coronavirus pandemic - including gunfire that injured three bystanders in Times Square.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has the latest on the CDC's huge announcement on mask guidelines, as well as an update on the Middle East crisis and Biden's plans on infrastructure following the pipeline cyberattack.



Wednesday, May 12



Mideast violence bears hallmarks of 2014 Gaza war
Israeli airstrikes toppled a massive high-rise building in central Gaza City on Wednesday, in the latest escalation in Israel-Hamas fighting -- the most severe outbreak of violence since a 2014 war.

Palls of gray smoke rose in Gaza, as Israeli airstrikes levelled two apartment towers and hammered the militant group's multiple security installations, destroying the central police compound.

In Israel, barrages of hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza's Hamas rulers and other militants at times overwhelmed missile defenses and brought air raid sirens and explosions echoing across Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest metropolitan area, and other cities.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 48 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women, according to the Health Ministry. More than 300 people have been wounded, including 86 children and 39 women. Six Israelis, including a soldier, three women and a child, were killed, and dozens of people were wounded.

Liz Cheney vows to prevent Trump from becoming president again after ousting
House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her post as the chamber's No. 3 GOP leader on Wednesday, punishing her after she repeatedly rebuked former President Donald Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Meeting behind closed doors for less than 20 minutes, GOP lawmakers used a voice vote to remove the Wyoming congresswoman from her leadership post, the latest evidence that challenging Trump can be career-threatening.

She was Congress' highest-ranking Republican woman, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her removal marked a jarring turnabout to what's been her fast rise within the party.

Hearing on Jan. 6 violence exposes stark partisan divisions
Republicans sought to rewrite the history of the Jan. 6 insurrection during a rancorous congressional hearing Wednesday, painting the Trump supporters who attacked the building as mostly peaceful patriots and downplaying repeatedly the violence of the day.

Democrats, meanwhile, clashed with Donald Trump's former Pentagon chief about the unprepared government response to a riot that began when hundreds of Trump loyalists bent on overturning the election broke through police barriers, smashed windows and laid siege to the building.

The colliding lines of questioning, and a failure to settle on a universally agreed-upon set of facts, underscored the challenges Congress faces as it sets out to investigate the violence and government missteps. The House Oversight Committee hearing unfolded just after Republicans in the chamber voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post for rebuking Trump for his false claims of election fraud and his role in inciting the attack.

Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, testifying publicly for the first time about Jan. 6, defended their agencies' responses to the chaos. But the hearing almost immediately devolved into partisan bickering about how that day unfolded, with at least one Republican brazenly stating there wasn't an insurrection at all.

Colonial Pipeline restarts operations following hacking shutdown
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit on Friday with a cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them. The attack raised concerns, once again, about the vulnerability of the nation's critical infrastructure.

Colonial initiated the restart of pipeline operations late Wednesday, "which means that all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations," the company said in a statement. But it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company said.

In the meantime, drivers have been finding gas stations with little or no gas in some Southeast states.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter & guests have the latest on escalating mayhem in the Middle East, Liz Cheney's ousting and more.



Tuesday, May 11



Israel, Hamas trade deadly fire as confrontation escalates
A confrontation between Israel and Hamas sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem escalated Tuesday as Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least three people in Israel.

The barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip and airstrikes into the territory continued almost nonstop throughout the day, in what appeared to be some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war. The fire was so relentless that Israel's Iron Dome rocket-defense system seemed to be overwhelmed. Columns of smoke rose from many places in Gaza.

Colonial Pipeline officials hope most service will be back by weekend after ransomware hack
Hit by a cyberattack, the operator of a major U.S. fuel pipeline said it hopes to have services mostly restored by the end of the week as the FBI and administration officials identified the culprits as a gang of criminal hackers.

U.S. officials sought to soothe concerns about price spikes or damage to the economy by stressing that the fuel supply had so far not experienced widespread disruptions, and the company said Monday that it was working toward "substantially restoring operational service" by the weekend.

Kathryn Garcia making name for self in New York City mayoral race
The New York Times endorsement of Kathryn Garcia might just push her from unknown, to top tier in the race for New York City mayor. Her new television ad stresses experience -- and lots of it.

Garcia was sanitation commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department, making sure streets got plowed and the trash picked up.
EMBED More News Videos

Chaos and violence escalated between Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Colonial Pipeline officials hope most service will be back by the weekend after a ransomware hack.


Monday, May 10



Times Square shooting
New York City was once billed as the safest big city in the country, but as shootings are up, Mayor Bill de Blasio is walking a strange line of stopping the violence and also trying to drum up tourism.

After Saturday's shooting in Times Square that left two women and a child injured, de Blasio increased security in the Crossroads of the World. However, at the same time, he doubted the brazen violence will hurt tourism. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA strongly disagreed.

Crime has become a huge issue in the race for mayor, especially after the Times Square shooting.

Hamas targets Jerusalem after clashes at revered mosque
Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Monday, including a barrage that set off air raid sirens as far away as Jerusalem, after hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police at a flashpoint religious site in the contested holy city.

The rocket fire drew heavy Israeli retaliation in the Gaza Strip. Health officials said at least 20 people, including nine children, were killed in fighting, making it one of the bloodiest days of battle between the bitter enemies in several years.

The fighting escalated already heightened tensions throughout the region following weeks of confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem. Those confrontations, focused around a disputed hilltop compound in Jerusalem's Old City, have threatened to spark a wider conflict.

Fuel pipeline shutdown sparks worries of $3 gas
A cyberattack forced the largest US fuel pipeline to shut down Friday, and analysts are worried the disruption could result in a spike in gas prices.

The Colonial Pipeline system spans more than 5,500 miles and transports about 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast. It transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil.

Colonial Pipeline Company said it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that involved ransomware. In an update on Sunday, the company said that its four mainlines remain offline, but some smaller lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. The pipeline's owners include Royal Dutch Shell.

FDA grants emergency use authorization for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15
The US Food and Drug Administration has expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to include people ages 12 to 15.

This is the first COVID-19 vaccine in the United States authorized for use in younger teens and adolescents; the vaccine had previously been authorized for people age 16 and older. COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for use in people age 18 and older.
EMBED More News Videos

Bill Ritter has more on the fallout from the Times Square shooting, the cyberattack on the colonial pipeline and violence in the Middle East.



----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.