President Donald Trump questioned why the woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault waited years to report the incident, leveling his most direct criticism yet at Christine Blasey Ford.

Ford’s sister-in-law said on “Good Morning America” she doesn’t “see any possibility” that Ford is mistaken about her assault claim.

Rudy Giuliani waded into the Kavanaugh controversy, blaming Democrats, particularly U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for — as he sees it — putting partisan enmity above all else.

Former Vice President Joe Biden once again apologized to Anita Hill, saying he regrets that he couldn’t stop members of the Senate Judiciary Committee from vilifying her when she came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Clarence Thomas.

Trump walked back his order earlier this week to declassify information in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying Justice Department officials and others had convinced him not to declassify it for the time being.

The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit.

…Rosenstein is denying the Times report, calling it “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” adding: “(L)et me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

There are cracks in the Tappan Zee Bridge, and nobody wants to talk about it. Two small breaks on either side of what’s left of the 62-year-old bridge’s main span are visible to eagle-eyed gawkers, further fueling concern that the structure could collapse.

On the day after top Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco was sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes from executives of companies conducting business with the state, both major candidates for governor tried to outdo each other in highlighting government actions they say don’t pass the smell test.

Tonawanda Coke won the right to stay open but with the understanding its smokestack emissions will now be tested for pollutants. The company will also have an independent, third-party monitor looking over its shoulder.

Leaders of the nation’s largest advocacy group for dwarfs and short people contend it is inappropriate for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign to repeatedly label his Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, as a “Mini Me” of Trump.

As Democrats eye majority control of the state Senate that has eluded them for a decade, party leaders and a coalition of progressive activists are descending on Southern Brooklyn’s District 22, where Democrat Andrew Gounardes is challenging Republican Sen. Marty Golden and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer questioned the city’s efforts to push through a huge $352 million, 20-year lease for the city Department of Investigation’s new office space three blocks away from its current location.

Teacher shortages aren’t prevalent statewide – at least not yet. They are more pronounced in some school districts than others, and more of a concern in specific fields or certain subjects.

Two terrified witnesses recounted the bloody mayhem inside an illegal Queens day care in 911 calls that described someone “killing people.”

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has fired public schools support services CEO Eric Goldstein and brought in a new leader following a series of Daily News articles that highlighted huge problems in the city’s yellow bus system.

A class-action lawsuit accusing Seagram’s liquor fortune heiress Sara Bronfman-Igtet of helping fleece millions of dollars from clients of NXIVM has been filed in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County.

Talk of potential sites for a new Buffalo Niagara Convention Center has led to questions about whether it could be paired with a new football stadium downtown, particularly at a site near Canalside.

Sports Illustrated rolled out a list of the toughest college basketball arenas in the country for opponents. Not surprisingly the Carrier Dome, capable of holding the country’s biggest on-campus crowd, ranked in the top ten.

While the number of potential voters age 18 and older in New York has shown some minor ups and downs, the peak in the past 20 years was this year, 2018. As of April, a total of 12,396,403 voters are registered — slightly more than the 12,376,815 registered in 2017.

Federal Labor Union Endorses Stefanik

The National Treasury Employees Union 138 Chapter on Friday endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik’s push for a third term to the 21st congressional district in the North Country.

The labor group is the largest independent union of federal workers, representing more than 150,000 employees across 33 government agencies.

“It is a pleasure working with Elise,” said NTEU 138 Chapter President Jamey A. Goheens. “Through the relationship we have formed, there have been many legislative issues addressed that truly have had a positive effect on federal employees and their lives.”

Stefanik this year faces Democrat Tedra Cobb in the November general election. Stefanik is seeking a third term.

“I am honored to receive this crucial endorsement representing the hard working men and women of our nation’s largest independent federal employee union,” she said. “I want to thank every Border agent, every Federal law enforcement officer and every Federal Government employee serving across the District and across our nation for their support and I look forward to working with them to strengthen our nation’s borders.”

Faso Ad Highlights Help For Vet

A TV ad released Friday by Republican Rep. John Faso’s campaign focuses on the story of the lawmaker’s office helping a constituent and veteran.

The ad is an example of bread-and-butter constituent services and is also in contrast to the spate of negative advertising seen on both sides from outside groups in the race.

“One of my most biggest priorities representing the 19th district is ensuring our veterans are treated with respect and have access to the benefits they have earned through their service to our nation,” Faso said. “We have an obligation to provide our veterans with the appropriate care but for too long; the VA has fallen short, leaving our veterans stuck in bureaucratic red tape without access to their benefits. Unfortunately Ron’s case is not unique and I am committed to finding solutions not only for individuals like Ron, but also to address the entire VA system.

Faso is a seeking a second term this year, facing Democratic candidate Antonio Delgado for the Hudson Valley House district that is seen as one of the most competitive races in the country this cycle.

Is State Government Learning Anything?

As a former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a six-year prison sentence, it’s not clear what, if anything, state government can do to police itself.

And it’s likely the corruption cases won’t sway voters this fall.

“It’s hard to believe that Albany has learned anything,” said Blair Horner, the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “If they have, they’ve been keeping it a secret. There have no meaningful measures to reduce the corruption in state government.”

Good-government advocates have so far failed to advance bills that would better track government contracts and create more oversight of economic development spending in order to crack down on bribery and bid rigging. And it does not appear voters are corruption weary.

“I think the public has become increasingly cynical about what they think can happen in Albany and they’re not holding elected officials to the highest standard,” Horner said.

Cuomo has insisted safeguards have been put in place since the initial arrests to prevent fraud and abuse.

It has been a veritable parade of corruption scandals in the last decade, impacting every floor of the Capitol. This year alone, the former leaders of both the state Senate and the state Assembly have been convicted of corruption charges.

“They often say it’s not the crime, but the cover-up,” said Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro. “In the case of this administration, it is the crime and the cover-up.”

Molinaro has sought to link Cuomo to the case of his former close aide Joe Percoco. Cuomo himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing or implicated, but Molinaro insists the governor should have known.

“The governor, when caught, always responds by claiming to have no knowledge. Didn’t know Joe Percoco, didn’t know Joe Percoco was making calls in the governor’s office when the governor was there,” Molinaro said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s re-election campaign released a TV ad accusing Molinaro of the similar pay-to-play allegations leveled against the administration.

Molinaro has blasted the attack, calling it an attempt to distract.

NY-11: Biden Endorses Rose

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed Democratic congressional candidate Max Rose who is running to flip a New York City House seat.

“Staten Islanders and South Brooklynites deserve a representative who works as hard as them and that is Max Rose. After serving our country in Afghanistan, Max came home to help provide health care for those who needed it most – including those struggling with opioid addiction. Even in the middle of this campaign season, Max took two weeks off of the trail to train with his national guard unit,” Biden said in a statement.

“That is the kind of dedication to country and integrity that we need right now in Washington D.C. I am supporting Max Rose because understands that the stability and growth of our middle class is one of the most important challenges we face as a country today, and with leaders like him in Congress, we can improve the lives of middle-class families in New York and around the country.”

Rose is running for the House seat held by Republican Rep. Dan Donovan. The district has in the past been considered a potential swing seat for the two parties.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the endorsement of Vice President Joe Biden,” Rose said. “His commitment to working Americans, our first responders, and putting party aside to solve problems is why he is one of the greatest public servants of our time. Once elected, I hope to serve my fellow Americans as honorably as he did as we seek to end our commuting nightmare, help those suffering from the drug epidemic, and ensure no child ever has to worry about being gunned down in school ever again.”

Molinaro On Kavanaugh Allegations: Truth Needs An Opportunity To Be Told

On the same day the president departed from his previously restrained response to sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro took a different route.

In Buffalo, Molinaro said he comes from a place where any allegations, particularly of abuse, are taken seriously. He said every effort ought to be made to find the truth about California professor Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were in high school in the early 1980s.

“How the federal government, how the Congress addresses that is certainly within their purview but I come from the perspective that those who have been victimized or at least alleged victimization, need to have an opportunity to have the truth be told,” Molinaro said.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump defended his nominee but also said the accuser’s voice should be heard. While he didn’t reneg on that sentiment Friday morning, Trump in a series of tweets suggested “radical left wing” politicians are trying to destroy Kavanaugh’s reputation and delay his confirmation.

He questioned why nobody called the Federal Bureau of Investigations 36 years ago.

Ford’s attorneys are negotiating with the Senate Judiciary Committee to potentially testify next week.

Stefanik Ad Calls Cobb A ‘Cuomo Clone’

An ad released Friday by the campaign of Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik calls her Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb a “clone” of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, linking her to the Democratic governor as he seeks a third term.

The spot points to Cobb’s appointment to the state Committee on Open Government, a panel that advocates for government transparency.

“Makes sense since Taxin’ Tedra Cobb wants a trillion dollars in new taxes,” the ad states. “We don’t need Cuomo clone Tedra Cobb in Washington.”

Cuomo has pledged to aid a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives this year, sending campaign money to Democrats running in key swing districts this November, including the 21st congressional district, where Stefanik is seeking a third term.

No Labels Action Endorses Suozzi, Reed And Katko

A super PAC that supports lawmakers with bipartisan voting records on Friday endorsed two Republicans and one Democrat from New York.

The group No Labels Action backed the re-election bids of Reps. Tom Reed and John Katko, both upstate Republicans, as well as Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi.

Of those lawmakers, Katko’s central New York race remains the most closely watched. He faces Democratic candidate Dana Balter as he seeks a third term.

“Rep. Katko is one of the most bipartisan members of Congress and he is working day in and day out to forge solutions to our country’s toughest problems,” said No Labels Action Executive Director Margaret White.
“With No Labels Action, there is finally a robust campaign organization working to bring America and our leaders back together, and we’re proud to give Rep. Katko our strong endorsement.”

All three lawmakers are supporters of the No Labels proposal meant to change how Congress operates and make it easier for bipartisan bills to come to the floor for a vote.

Molinaro Doesn’t Expect Collins To Negatively Impact GOP Gubernatorial Turnout In WNY

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro weighed in on the decision made by Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, to remain on the ballot this November.

Collins, who federal prosecutor’s charged last month with crimes connected to insider trading, unsuspended his campaign earlier this week. The congressman said he is now “actively campaigning” while simultaneously working to clear his name.

“I will say that it’s certainly, certainly wasn’t what I was expecting but it’s a decision that he his family and his lawyers decided,” Molinaro said.

Collins also said he will serve the district in Congress if re-elected, a decision some members of the GOP including Carl Paladino have speculated might dissuade voters from coming to the polls. The district is traditionally a Republican stronghold, and a region where Paladino did very well during his 2010 campaign for governor.

However, Molinaro said he’s not concerned about Collins situation affecting his prospects.

“I suspect there will be heavy turnout nonetheless,” Molinaro said. “Certainly we want to be sure that voters understand in this district, in this part of the state, that the governor has turned his back on Western New York. He has and I won’t.”

The candidate was in Buffalo again Friday, as part of his “Cuomo Corruption Tour.”

Independence and Intrigue in SD-53

From the Morning Memo:

Perhaps there’s potential for Simcha Felder-type situation in Central New York, but a lot of cards need to fall into place first.

Democratic candidate Rachel May officially won her primary over incumbent Sen. David Valesky, following the counting of absentee ballots yesterday. However, Valesky will still appear on the November ballot, since he holds the Independence Party line, and potentially the Women’s Equality Party line as well.

Whether he will actively campaign as an independent candidate, however, remains an open question.

“Now that all the votes have been counted, I congratulate Rachel May on her win in the Democratic primary,” Valeksy wrote on Facebook. “Ms. May and her supporters deserve credit for their hard work and tireless advocacy on behalf of progressive causes.”

“Since last week’s primary, countless individuals have urged me to actively campaign as an independent. Out of respect for them, I will take some time to consider all options going forward.”

Should he decide to stick it out, Valesky has a few things going for him – namely the power of incumbency and just short of $400,000 in his campaign coffers as of 11 days before the primary. He is also running in a district that includes most of the city of Syracuse, where just last year Mayor Ben Walsh ran a successful independent campaign.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Janet Burman isn’t expected to make much noise. She has run unsuccessfully for several other offices, and she has less than $2,000 in campaign money.

There’s also the matter of her name being conspicuously left out of a statement issued yesterday by Onondaga GOP Chairman Tom Dadey, in which he urged voters not to choose May in the general election.

“If Rachel May is elected to the Senate, she will bankrupt this state and make our communities more dangerous and our families less safe,” Dadey wrote. “There is an alternative to Rachel May and the Democrat socialists who are attempting to takeover our state government, and the voters of the 53rd Senate District would be wise to choose it.”

Might this be a sign that the GOP be open to backing Valesky in November?

Burman is not a lawyer, so she can’t be nominated for a judgeship and would only be able to get off the ballot if she moved out of the district. If the party could convince her to suspend her own campaign, it could either actively throw institutional support behind Valesky, or at a minimum, stay out of the race.

Then the question is this: If the incumbent were to launch a successful third party campaign with tacit – or even outright – support from the local GOP, who would he conference with in the state Senate?

Valesky is one of the founding members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference, which helped the Republicans maintain control of the majority.

Despite a deal to reunify with mainline Democrats earlier this year, he and five other former members were defeated by a slate of progressive insurgents during the primary. Come next session, there will be no IDC, but it’s possible Valesky could decide to side with Republicans again.

After all, Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been doing so for years, and has at times wielded significant influence as a result. Thanks to Felder, the GOP currently hold a one vote edge in the chamber, but Democrats have high hopes of taking back the majority in November.

That means SD-53 could turn into a swing district, depending on what Valeksy – and, more importantly – CNY voters, decide to do in November.