Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, is defending a 2013 meeting with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and explaining that he did not know religious leader Louis Farrakhan would be in attendance.

Why it matters: Ellison came under recent fire by conservative media following a WSJ report that he had dinner with religious leader Louis Farrakhan and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in 2013.

The back story: Ellison penned several op-eds in the student newspaper while in law school, defending Farrakhan against claims of racism and anti-semitism. He later attempted to distance himself from both Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, once in 2006 during his House campaign and again in 2016 while running for DNC chair.

In a statement to Axios, Ellison wrote:

“As part of the 2013 U.N. General Assembly, and as negotiations were under way for what would become the Iran deal, I attended a meeting with President Rouhani and nearly 50 American Muslim leaders. This was not a private dinner, I didn’t know in advance who else would be there, and my decision to attend was not an endorsement of the political views of other attendees."
I attended the meeting to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue and to press President Rouhani face-to-face for the release of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who was illegally detained and tortured by the Iranian regime. As always, I disavow anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms.

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Trump casts himself as chief defender of American history in divisive speech at Rushmore

President Trump spoke out against a "merciless campaign" to wipe out American history during a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore.

Why it matters: Trump's "dark and divisive" speech comes as states continue to hit new coronavirus records and a national reckoning against racial inequities pushes forward, The New York Times writes. Trump's public approval is faltering heading toward the November elections, and he made an appeal to his base at Friday's spectacle, per The Washington Post.

Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Drive-in movie theaters, the symbol of a bygone era before cellphones and constant distraction, are suddenly reemerging as a popular form of entertainment during the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: Indoor movie theaters are closed, but people still crave entertainment and a chance to get out of their houses. Watching a movie from the safety of a car is the next best thing.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 11,093,182 — Total deaths: 525,491 — Total recoveries — 5,890,052Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 2,795,163 — Total deaths: 129,437 — Total recoveries: 790,404 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  5. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.