NFL draft highlights and bird flu virus fragments in some milk: Morning Rundown

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The former publisher of the National Enquirer faces another round of grilling from Donald Trump’s lawyers. Boys at a school for troubled teens in Jamaica detail the alleged abuse they endured. And we review the biggest calls in the 2024 NFL draft.

Here’s what to know today.

Key witness returns to the stand to face Trump’s lawyers in hush money case

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker will face more grilling from Donald Trump’s defense lawyers about his dealings with the former president and Trump’s efforts to quash “embarrassing” stories that could have damaged his 2016 campaign run.

Donald Trump in Manhattan Criminal Court
Donald Trump in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday.Jeenah Moon / Pool via AP

Trump attorney Emil Bove attempted to poke holes in Pecker’s credibility during yesterday’s cross-examination by getting him to admit that he mixed up dates in his testimony. Bove also managed to get Pecker to acknowledge how common it was for the paper to buy stories that it wouldn’t print. Pecker testified to being involved in efforts to kill three stories that could have hurt Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

One of the stories involved claims by former Playboy model Karen McDougal that she had a monthslong affair with Trump. Another story included claims made by adult film actor Stormy Daniels that she had a sexual encounter with Trump. Trump has denied both of these stories.

Pecker’s testimony today marks the end of the second week of Trump’s hush money trial.

Read the full story here.

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More Donald Trump news: 

  • Trump has long argued for absolute immunity in his federal election case. But in yesterday’s arguments before the Supreme Court, his lawyer appeared to agree with special counsel Jack Smith that some of the allegations in the indictment do not involve “official acts” of the president. The public-private debate could lead to a ruling that sends the case back to lower courts, reducing the likelihood that a trial could happen before Election Day. Here’s a recap of yesterday’s action in the Supreme Court. 

The biggest takeaways from the NFL draft

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft saw multiple teams pin their future on quarterback prospects. Six teams took signal-callers, led by the Chicago Bears selecting Caleb Williams at No. 1, tying the most in a round since 1983. What else stood out over the 32 picks? Sports editor Greg Rosenstein dives into the biggest takeaways from Detroit:

Quarterbacks dominated the early portion: The University of Southern California’s Williams went No. 1 overall to the Bears, but he wasn’t alone. Five other QBs were selected in the first 12 picks: Louisiana State University’s Jayden Daniels went to the Commanders, North Carolina’s Drake Maye to the Patriots, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. to the Falcons, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy to the Vikings and Oregon’s Bo Nix to the Broncos. In total, 23 offensive players heard their name called Thursday, the most in NFL draft history.

Image: 2024 NFL Draft - Round 1
Caleb Williams poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected first overall by the Chicago Bears.Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Biggest surprise? Falcons taking Penix Jr. at No. 8: The Washington quarterback was expected to be a first-round pick, but not that high and especially not by Atlanta. The Falcons signed veteran signal-caller Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed this offseason and had other holes to fill. Atlanta general manager Terry Fontenot said the move was made not for this upcoming season but “for the future.”

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Defensive players taken late: The first 14 picks came on the offensive side of the ball, doubling the previous record of seven to open the 2021 draft. At No. 15, the Indianapolis Colts took UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu to finally end the streak.

See more highlights and analysis here.

Bird flu virus found in 1 in 5 samples of pasteurized milk

Traces of the bird flu virus were found in 1 in 5 samples of pasteurized milk, the FDA said, days after it first announced finding viral fragments in commercially sold milk. The findings provide a more detailed picture of how much of the milk supply has been affected by infected herds of dairy cows.

Health officials maintain — and experts agree — that pasteurized milk is safe to drink. However, influenza virologist Richard Webby pointed out that while the number of positive samples is consistent with numbers he has reviewed from other sample sets, “the number does seem high… Clearly there are more infected animals out there than being reported,” he said in an email.

As of yesterday, bird flu has been detected in 33 herds in eight states.

China warns of ‘downward spiral’ as Xi tells Blinken they should be partners not adversaries

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday as he wrapped up a three-day visit to China dominated by contentious issues and warnings from his hosts of another “downward spiral” in relations.

The two men met Friday afternoon local time at the Great Hall of the People, an ornate and cavernous building next to Tiananmen Square, as the two superpowers work to stabilize ties with renewed talks despite a growing list of geopolitical differences.

Blinken meets with Xi in Beijing
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 26, 2024. Mark Schiefelbein / AFP – Getty Images

A primary goal of Blinken’s visit to China was to warn about its support for Russia’s war against Ukraine. Other issues on the agenda included Chinese economic and trade practices the U.S. views as unfair, Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, stability in the Taiwan Strait, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the Israel-Hamas war.

U.S. boys at Jamaica school say they were beaten, starved

Boys at an American-run school for troubled teens in Jamaica were beaten by adult staff, starved and forced to exercise until they vomited, according to former students, their parents and attorneys assisting them. The Atlantis Leadership Academy recently gained attention after abuse allegations prompted Jamaican child welfare officials to remove students from the school.

Obtained by NBC News

One of the eight teens who were removed claimed students were “whipped” and “beaten” with pipes. Five other boys have shared stories with strong similarities in interviews in Jamaica with a lawyer who described their accounts to NBC News. During their time at the school, the boys say they had limited contact with their parents. At least four students attempted to run away to the U.S. Embassy but were allegedly beaten again after they were caught.

Randall Cook, the school’s founder and executive director, defended the school but made no comments about the allegations, which have prompted an investigation and the arrest of five employees. Read the full story here.

Politics in Brief

Gun rights: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to sign a bill that would allow school staff to carry concealed handguns on school property. Earlier this week, the Republican-controlled state House passed the measure roughly a year after a shooter killed six people at a Nashville school.

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NBC News poll: Voters say that President Joe Biden’s age and former President Donald Trump’s legal woes are the most compelling reasons to oppose them in November, according to the latest national NBC News poll.

Net neutrality battle: The FCC voted to restore the policy of net neutrality, a set of rules that requires broadband internet providers to treat all internet traffic more or less equally.

LGBTQ rights: An estimated 93% of transgender youth from ages 13 to 17 live in states that have passed or are considering bills to restrict their access to transition-related health care, school bathrooms, sports participation and pronouns used at school, according to a new report.

Want more politics news? Sign up for From the Politics Desk to get exclusive reporting and analysis delivered to your inbox every weekday evening. Subscribe here.

Staff Pick: A mother’s tough choice — and the law that stood in the way

Jennifer Adkins.
Jennifer Adkins.NBC News

When Jennifer Adkins learned that her developing fetus had a rare condition and wasn’t likely to live, she found herself in a stalemate. Her baby still had a heartbeat — but Idaho’s near-total abortion ban has left doctors confused about what to do when a woman is carrying a fetus that is not viable and could cause devastating complications, but she is not on the brink of death. So, Adkins left, and she’s suing the state after she was unable to terminate the dangerous pregnancy.

Adkins’ story is part of a larger issue. The Supreme Court is expected to determine whether Idaho’s abortion ban clashes with a federal law that requires hospitals to help patients in emergencies. This feature calls attention to the struggles that many physicians face while trying to get clarity on how to do their job. — Elizabeth Both, associate platforms editor

In Case You Missed It

  • The University of Southern California canceled its main commencement ceremony over safety concerns. And students at Columbia University fear their graduation ceremony could be disrupted.
  • Newly released bodycam footage from the night a 53-year-old Ohio man died showed he repeatedly told officers, “I can’t breathe,” as he was pinned to the ground and that he lay motionless for about 8 minutes before CPR was administered.
  • Three women were likely infected with HIV while receiving vampire facials at a New Mexico spa, the CDC said, marking the first known cases of the virus transmitted via cosmetic injections.
  • Southwest Airlines is considering changes to its single-class, open-seating cabins to drive up revenue, CEO Bob Jordan told CNBC.
  • Actor Sophia Bush came out as queer and confirmed her relationship with retired U.S. women’s soccer player Ashlyn Harris.
  • A New York appeals court overturned the 2020 rape conviction of disgraced one-time Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, making way for a new trial.

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Whether you’re looking for an espresso machine or a French press, there are a few factors to keep in mind while you’re shopping. Here’s what to look for in a good coffee maker. 

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select.

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