Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ trial begins and ‘hyperactive’ hurricane season predicted after Beryl: Morning Rundown

A reluctant acceptance among Democrats that Joe Biden will stay in the presidential race sets in. Forecasters upgrade the summer hurricane forecast after seeing Beryl’s early-season power. And a NASA crew imitates life on Mars — from a 3D-printed structure on Earth.

Here’s what to know today.

Rank-and-file Democrats feel powerless against Biden and party ‘elites’

Whether President Joe Biden should drop out of the presidential race has dominated political conversations since his disastrous debate performance almost two weeks ago. 

Just yesterday, another House Democrat joined calls for the president to drop his re-election bid. A Colorado lawmaker became the first Senate Democrat to publicly warn that Biden can’t beat Trump. And ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said he regrets talking to a passerby in New York City and appearing to say of Biden, “I don’t think he can serve four more years.”

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Biden has made it abundantly clear he isn’t going anywhere. He has blamed party “elites” in Washington for the calls to step aside. But in interviews, rank-and-file Democrats, party chairs, battleground leaders and elected officials said Biden got it wrong. All along, they said, they have felt deep concerns about the president but have felt powerless to speak out. 

“I would be crucified by them if I spoke out of line,” a Democratic state party chair said, referring to Biden’s camp. 

A Democratic House member likened Biden to “the grandpa who refuses to give up the car keys even though it’s not safe for him to drive anymore.” The person added: “There’s also a growing resignation that, if Joe Biden insists on remaining our nominee, we will have to make the best out of a bad situation going into the most consequential presidential election in American history.”

The sentiment among some Democrats is that a lack of enthusiasm among voters for Biden will negatively affect down-ballot races. They also feel the president took too long to do damage control, and now talk about his age is dominating a race that should be about former President Donald Trump.

Read the full story here.  

More 2024 election coverage:

  • Trump teased his vice presidential pick and took sharper aim at Vice President Kamala Harris at a Florida rally. But he’s in no rush to announce his running mate.
  • Biden is finding support from progressives, like AOC and Bernie Sanders, who are pushing him to embrace a bolder agenda.
  • One reason for the Biden campaign’s post-debate struggles “is his inner circle’s complete misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the 2020 and 2022 elections,” NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd writes. Really, it’s all about Trump. Read the full analysis.
  • NBC News and MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki explains what happened the last time Democrats swapped out nominees in high-profile races.

Jurors selected in Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ trial

Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial will get underway today in New Mexico, where the actor is charged in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in 2021. A full 12-person jury, as well as four alternate jurors, were selected yesterday after dozens of prospective jurors were interviewed. 

Ross D. Franklin / Pool via Getty Images

Baldwin and his defense team scored a legal victory earlier this week when the judge in the case ruled that Baldwin’s role as a co-producer on “Rust” is not relevant to the trial. Here’s what that means for prosecutors. 

Baldwin, who has pleaded not guilty, could be sentenced up to 18 months in prison if he’s found guilty.

After Beryl, forecasters predict a more severe hurricane season

Jackie Jecmenek, right, talks with city worker Bobby Head as she stands in front of her neighbor's home in Bay City, Texas.
Eric Gay / AP

Hurricane Beryl left a path of destruction across the Caribbean before making landfall this week in Texas. Forecasters warn it’s likely just the start of a “hyperactive season.” Colorado State University, a prominent hurricane and tropical weather forecast center, upgraded its seasonal forecast yesterday, with experts now predicting a season with 12 hurricanes. Six of those hurricanes are expected to become Category 3 or stronger. Earlier this year, the center had predicted 10 named storms and five major hurricanes.

That Beryl formed so early this hurricane season was a surprise. A Colorado State meteorologist and hurricane forecaster explained why.

Cleanup and restoration began in Texas, where millions of energy customers were still without power — and therefore, air conditioning — as forecasters warned of “dangerous heat” across the state.

Lawyer: 12-year-old was to blame for pastor Robert Morris’ ‘inappropriate’ sexual conduct

On Christmas night in 1982, Texas pastor Robert Morris began what he would describe as “inappropriate sexual behavior” with Cindy Clemishire while he was staying at her parents’ home in Oklahoma. Morris was a 21-year-old husband and father; Clemishire was a 12-year-old girl who still liked to play with dolls. Clemishire said Morris told her to come to his room before bed, and she was the type of girl who listened to instructions from trusted adults. 

But 25 years later, when Clemishire hired an attorney and threatened to sue Morris, accusing him of repeatedly molesting her as a child, a lawyer representing Morris responded by blaming Clemishire for what happened to her, according to a 2007 correspondence obtained by NBC News.

Clemishire, now 54, went public with her accusations last month. Morris responded by admitting to “inappropriate sexual behavior” and resigned within days as senior pastor of Gateway Church.

Senior investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh spoke to Clemishire about the correspondence. Not only do they shed light on how Morris explained his actions — they also suggest who else might have known about it.

NASA crew spends 378 days imitating life on Mars

CHAPEA Mars Analog Mission 1  crew
Josh Valcarcel / NASA / CHAPEA

A NASA mission meant to test how living on Mars would affect a human crew ended last weekend, with four volunteers emerging from a 1,700-square-foot, 3D-printed structure after living there for more than a year. While the crew inhabited the Mars Dune Alpha, they carried out tasks that astronauts on an actual trip to Mars would have, like habitat maintenance, sample collection and robotic operations. The crew members were also thrown a few curveballs to see how they’d respond. All the while, NASA observed their health and performance to learn how to support a crew during long missions.

Five-time Olympian brings wisdom to women’s basketball team

Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury watches the ball
Steph Chambers / Getty Images

The U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will feel the pressure of winning an eighth straight gold medal this summer in Paris, but veteran Diani Taurasi hopes to be a vital, calm presence. “She’s seen everything in every game, has done everything in every game, every scenario,” said Team USA Head Coach Cheryl Reeve. Now 41, Tausari reflects on how her mindset has changed from her first Games to her sixth.More Olympics highlights: 

  • 🏀 Vice President Kamala Harris visited the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in Las Vegas and delivered a simple message to the group of all stars: “bring back that gold.”
  • 🏃🏿‍♀️ Forget Nike and New Balance. A hurdler qualified for Paris while wearing an outfit by an indie Black designer

Politics in Brief

NATO summit: Without mentioning Trump by name, Biden took aim at the former president in a speech to kick off this week’s NATO summit.

Supreme Court scrutiny: A pair of Senate Democrats asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas over travel gifts and a loan for a luxury car from wealthy donor friends.

Cellphone crackdown: Virginia became the latest in a string of states to legislate restrictions on cellphone use in classrooms, with Gov. Glenn Youngkin issuing an executive order to eliminate the use of devices in public schools.

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Staff Pick: 11 nonbinary trailblazers to know

A photo-collage of Nikki Hiltz, Emma D’Arcy, Janelle Monáe, Bob the Drag Queen, Alok Vaid-Menon
Whitney Matewe / NBC News; Getty Images

Nonbinary people — including celebrities such as singer-songwriter Sam Smith, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Bob the Drag Queen, and “House of the Dragon” actor Emma D’Arcy — have gained increasing visibility in entertainment, politics and beyond. An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. are nonbinary, meaning they are neither exclusively male nor female, according to 2021 research by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. To celebrate Nonbinary Awareness Week, here are 11 notable people you should know. — Jo Yurcaba, NBC OUT reporter

NBC Select: Online Shopping, Simplified 

Sleeper sofas are perfect for when you have guests over, especially if you live in a small space. Here’s what to consider when shopping for one. And don’t forget about a quality pillow. These five best pillows for neck pain were tried and tested by NBC Select’s staff.

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