Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Gillibrand Employs Trump as Fundraising Foil

From the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose name has been bandied about as a potential Democratic presidential contender in 2020, yesterday employed the president-elect as a fundraising tool in an email appeal to supporters.

“I don’t need to tell you that we have a lot of work ahead of us when President-elect Trump takes office next year,” New York’s junior senator wrote.

“Republicans are already lining up their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, slash Medicare, gut Social Security and undo our progress on climate change. I’ll fight back every day I’m in the Senate – but I need you on my side for my reelection campaign in 2018.”

“With President-elect Trump taking office in just 31 days, there is just too much at stake for Democrats to give up a single seat in 2018.”

Gillibrand, a prodigious fundraiser who has also spent a considerable amount of time raising cash for fellow Democrats – particularly female candidates, said she’s trying to raise $15,000 by the final FEC deadline on Dec. 31 to “kick start” her 2018 re-election campaign.

That’s also the year when New Yorkers will again head to the polls to elect a governor. Gillibrand has occasionally been mentioned as a possible contender for that post, but has said – quite definitively – that she’s not interested, though she would be the state’s first woman governor if she were to run and win.

Gillibrand’s fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has also seen his White House aspirations reignited by Trump’s election (and the failure of another New York Democrat, Hillary Clinton). Cuomo has said he will be seeking a third four-year term in 2018.

Proclaiming their intentions to stand up to Trump is very in vogue for New York Democratic elected officials these days.

Everyone’s doing it – from Cuomo, to Gillibrand to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to AG Eric Schneiderman, who, along with his fellow liberal AGs across the U.S., has promised to sue and sue and sue to block any Trump policies deemed onerous or unconstitutional.

Perhaps the one person whose intentions really matter, however, is U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator and the incoming minority leader of the Senate.

Schumer has pledged to work with Trump on key issues – like infrastructure – when possible, and oppose him in other areas (like repealing the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement in place).

Schumer reportedly has opened up a back channel of communication with the incoming president, and has spoken at length with him about legislation and cabinet appointments.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

Members of the Cuomo administration participate in holiday toy distribution efforts around the state today.

At 9 a.m., state Veterans Affairs Administrator Eric Hesse will distribute toys at the St. Lawrence County Community Development Program, 1 Commerce Ln., Canton.

Also at 9 a.m., advocates will participate in a National Homeless Persons Memorial Day vigil in front of the governor’s Midtown Manhattan office – the 20th rally since advocates and supporters began these weekly rallies in July, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul makes an announcement at the Southern Tier Sustainable Development Conference, Binghamton University Main Campus, University Union, Mandela Room, 4400 Vestal Pkwy., Binghamton.

At 9:30 a.m., acting state Civil Service Commissioner Lola Brabham will distribute toys at the Tri County United Way, 696 Upper Glen St., Queensbury.

At 10 a.m., NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill will preside over promotions, 1 Police Plaza, 2nd Floor Press Room, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Donovan Richards announces capital funding for the Laurelton branch of the Queens Library, 134-26 225th St., Laurelton, Queens.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, 633 3rd Ave., 38th Floor, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina will host a press conference with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and CSA Executive Vice President Mark Cannizzaro, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Correction Commissioner Thomas Beilein will distribute toys at Action for a Better Community, 1772 Clifford Ave., Rochester.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC DOT and local leaders, including Sen. Daniel Squadron, make an announcement regarding infrastructure at the Chrystie Street bike lane, safety improvements by the Manhattan Bridge and release 2016 bike infrastructure statistics, intersection of Chrystie and Canal streets, Manhttan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., advocates will urge Gov. Cuomo to keep his promise to fund 6,000 units of supportive housing for the homeless. third floor in front of the LCA Room, state Capitol Building, Albany.

At noon, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos will distribute toys at Trinity Alliance, 15 Trinity Pl., Albany. T

Also at noon, a group of Jewish constituents of Sen. Simcha Felder, who are also members of a group called “Senate District 17 Jews Against Trump,” will deliver a petition to his district office calling on him to caucus with Democrats in the Albany, 1412 Avenue J, Suite 2E, Brooklyn.

At 1:15 p.m., U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation to finalize a proposed rule that would require electronic speeding devices in large trucks, buses and school buses, DeWitt fire station, 4500 E. Genesee St., DeWitt.

At 2 p.m., NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been and NYC Councilman Rafael Espinal announce a request for proposals to develop the Dinsmore-Chestnut site in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood with up to 200 units of affordable housing, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Rep. Kathleen Rice, Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, and Richard Mallow, executive director of the New York state MADD chapter, will unveil the Prevent Impaired Driving Child Endangerment Act, Garden of Hope Memorial in Eisenhower Park, Westbury.

At 3 p.m., acting state Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila Poole will distribute toys at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1 North Front St., Hudson.

At 4:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a holiday open house for members of the NYC media, Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan. (A party specifically for the City Hall press corps will be held this evening, and NYC First Lady Charlene McCray will attend).

At 4:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright hosts a holiday party for the community, New York Public Library Webster Library, 1465 York Ave., Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., Care for the Homeless and Urban Pathways host a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day program to remember those who died this year without stable housing, Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, 37 W. 65th St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Department of Education hosts a public meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, High School of Fashion Industries, 225 W. 24th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Farina attends a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, High School for Fashion Industries, 225 West 24th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYPD Deputy Commissioner Intelligence & Counterterrorism John J. Miller will appear on CNN.


Donald Trump and the Clinton family are still throwing jabs more than a month after Trump’s surprise presidential win over Hillary Clinton. More here.

Rep. Chris Collins defended Trump’s tweets criticizing Bill Clinton, saying that the former president refuses to come to grips with his wife’s election loss.

The election results of all 50 states and the District of Columbia were certified yesterday, and Hillary Clinton officially beat Trump in the popular vote by 2,864,974, an unprecedented margin of victory for any nominee who lost the Electoral College.

The FBI warrant that shook Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in its final two weeks has been unsealed, and the lawyer who requested it says it offers “nothing at all” to merit the agency’s actions leading up to the Nov. 8 election.

The FBI said it needed the warrant for thousands of Clinton’s emails discovered on a computer belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner in part because agents wanted to look for evidence of “intrusions” by people trying to steal classified information.

President Obama announced what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Trump.

Trump revealed newfound admiration for Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim yesterday, praising one of the most powerful men in America’s southern neighbor after previously characterizing him as part of a global anti-Trump conspiracy.

Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has helped raise millions of dollars for a prominent West Bank settlement, a connection that could complicate the president-elect’s promised effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Berlin attack and Ankara assassination underscore the global tinderbox Trump is set to inherit, and his response suggests his White House will take a sharply different approach to unexpected crises.

The U.S. population this year grew at its lowest rate since the Great Depression, and the state of New York shrank for the first time in a decade, according to Census Bureau data released yesterday.

Members of the underground pro-Hillary Clinton Facebook group Pantsuit Nation are livid after the operator announced she would be cashing in on the page with a book deal.

AG Eric Schneiderman is calling on Obama before he leaves office to dismantle the infrastructure of a now defunct controversial Bush-era registry he fears could be resurrected to help track Muslims in America.

More than a month before Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to allow professional mixed martial arts fights in New York, Zuffa, UFC’s parent company, made a significant contribution to the governor’s re-election campaign.

Voters are just fine with Cuomo fighting the Trump administration from Albany. But they don’t want him fighting the president-elect during the 2020 election season, a new Q poll shows.

Cuomo’s administration says its analysis of the Hudson RIver PCB cleanup shows that the remedy agreed to by the EPA and General Electric is not enough.

According to his attorney, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros was not responsible for New York state losing out on the $2 billion computer chip factory that had been promised the Mohawk Valley by Cuomo.

Will they or won’t they return to the Capitol? Top leaders in the Assembly and Senate aren’t saying. “I don’t gamble, so I don’t like to give odds,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Allowing the use of ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft in upstate New York has — in zero-to-60 fashion — has become one of the most discussed issues in a potential special session of the Legislature.

A bill that would require the state to pick up the tab from counties to pay for legal services for the poor was sent yesterday to Cuomo’s desk.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to enroll 50,000 people in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by the end of next year, a move officials said would save the city’s cash-strapped hospital system $40 million a year.

More >


A new nationwide poll released found that Trump voters are more supportive of federal government growth and spending in some areas than traditional conservatives.

Regardless of what Trump’s plans are for immigration, President Barack Obama says there will be “inevitable” changes to the demographics of the United States. “If you stopped all immigration today, just by virtue of birth rates, this is going to be a browner country,” Obama told NPR.

Kellyanne Conway, who currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children, plans to move to Washington, D.C. with her family, leaving open the possibility that she will serve in Trump’s White House.

Trump is passing over loyalists, defending the people he once pilloried and rethinking central campaign promises as he assembles his administration.

GOP consultant Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally, is petitioning the incoming administration to ask a grand jury whether Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton should be criminally prosecuted.

Incoming Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer cleaned house last week in the U.S. Senate Democrats’ internal video department, firing nearly all its employees amid plans to revamp the unit with a new digital operation aimed at creating viral social media content.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a new campaign today to get New Yorkers signed up for health insurance — and possibly throw up roadblocks to Trump as he tries to repeal Obamacare.

Trump wants the world to know that it was former President Bill Clinton who called him on the day after the election and not the other way around.

The site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival is one of 26 properties, resources and districts in New York nominated to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The drive toward driverless cars will include potentially pivotal research on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The boxing industry is not at all happy with the attention the Cuomo administration is lavishing on UFC now that MMA is legal in New York.

Times Square landlords are seeking out more “experiential retail,” such as food and entertainment venues, and more interactive elements in stores, real-estate brokers and executives said.

New York’s highest court effectively ruled that radio broadcasters don’t have to pay royalties to performers in pre-1972 recordings, a decision that will leave former members of The Turtles singing anything but “Happy Together.”

In a sign of opposition to the president-elect’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, the 29 members of the New York Electoral College unanimously voted to consign their compensation, a total of $435, to a prominent immigrant policy and advocacy organization.

A special grand jury empaneled by a prosecutor after a limousine crash killed four women leaving a Long Island winery has issued a report calling for better safety regulations for stretch limousines.

Tens of thousands of residents of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn got a holiday message last week from Assemblyman Peter Abbate – a politician who has never represented them, but who is likely to seek their City Council seat next year, and may have already violated the city’s strict campaign finance rules.

As the New Year rapidly approached, city officials still don’t have a guarantee from Cuomo that Albany will receive $12.5 million in state funding for 2017, which it needs to balance its budget.

New York State’s Cigarette Strike Force seized 53,307 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 261,220 untaxed cigars in 2016 – mostly outside Western New York.

Long Island Congressman-elect Tom Suozzi is staffing up.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and Erie County with no public schedule as of yet.

At 7:30 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and multiple NYC Council members will be at subway stations to inform New Yorkers of their legal protections against discrimination and harassment, various subway stations around all five boroughs.

At 8:30 a.m., City & State hosts the “Bronx Borough 50” event featuring a panel with Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Charter Communications’ Camille Joseph and FreshDirect’s Larry Scott Blackmon, Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 9 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver brief remarks at NY EdTech Week, a conference focused on educational technology, Skirball Center for Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Pl., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will welcome more than 200 third-through-eighth-grade students for a chess challenge, Andrew Freedman Home, 1125 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 10 a.m., a group of environmental and labor activists, the NYRenews coalition, will call on Cuomo to #TakeTrumpOn regarding environmental issues, outside Cuomo’s New York City office, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a press conference to discuss the GetCoveredNYC initiative and enrollment in healthcare insurance programs, Gouverneur Health, 227 Madison St., Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., AARP New York will release the results of a statewide survey of small business owners that will show whether or not there is support for a state-administered retirement savings option, LCA Press Room, Legislative Office Building Room 130, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., JCOPE meets, 540 Broadway, Albany.

At 11 a.m., Díaz Jr. and Bronx rapper Fat Joe will deliver new computers to students, P.S. 146–Edward Collins, 968 Cauldwell Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Rep. Grace Meng and others will attend a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of the Elmhurst Community Library, 86-01 Broadway, Elmhurst, Queens.

At 4 p.m., Sen. Rubén Díaz Sr., state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda, and NYC Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. will be celebrating Christmas in the Bronx by giving free toys to needy children, I.S. 217 Rafael Hernandez School, 977 Tiffany St., the Bronx.

At 5 p.m., MoveOn members join allies across the country to greet Republican senators and representatives, home on holiday recess, with a clear message: “Don’t Take Away Our Health Care,” outside Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office, 136 Glen St., Glens Falls.

At 6 p.m., the Legal Aid Society, in partnership with NYC Councilwoman Debi Rose, will host a Know Your Rights Forum to inform immigrants of their rights, Vanderbilt Avenue Moravian Church, 285 Vanderbilt Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 6 p.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and County GOP Chair Doug Colety host a holiday party, Westchester Manor, 140 Sawmill Parkway, Hastings-on-Hudson.

This evening, de Blasio will speak at the UFT Christmas Party in Manhattan. The event is closed to members of the media.


President Obama yesterday granted clemency to 231 federal inmates – the most in a single day by any president in U.S. history. He commuted the prison sentences of 153 people and pardoned 78 others, a sign he is ramping up his use of clemency power during his final weeks in office.

Trump blamed the deadly truck crash in Berlin on “Islamist terrorists,” saying they targeted “innocent” Christians as they “prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday.”

As electors met across the country yesterday, Republican electors in Texas vaulted Trump past the 270 mark, granting him all but two of their 38 ballots in a ceremony in the state Capitol in Austin and sealing his White House win.

Though there were some so-called “faithless electors,” more of them turned their backs on Clinton and voted for her primary foe, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, rather than rejecting Trump.

The NYT editorial board calls for doing away with the Electoral College, calling it an “outdated institution” that “undermines participatory democracy.” (In case you think this is partisan sour grapes, the page “has opposed the Electoral College for at least 80 years, and it has regardless of the outcome of any given election”).

Outgoing Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel argued that the Electoral College has failed in its original purpose: to prevent the rise of foreign-influenced demagogues.

After he cast the first vote for his wife at New York’s Electoral College meeting in Albany, former President Bill Clinton blamed the FBI and Russian hacking for wife Hillary’s defeat to Donald Trump in last month’s presidential election.

“We had the Russians and the F.B.I., and she couldn’t prevail against that, but she did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes,” the former president said, his determined smile belying his fury.

Zack Fink: “The State Senate chamber resembled a political wake. Twenty-nine Democrats — many of them party VIPS — morosely lined up and cast their ballots for Hillary Rodham Clinton, even though it was a losing proposition.”

Hillary Clinton got serenaded and received a standing ovation at Cafe Carlyle last Friday.

Pantsuit Nation, the secret Facebook page created for Clinton supporters during the election, is becoming a book. The group’s founder, Libby Chamberlain, 33, who lives in Brooklin, Me., is publishing a book based on the Facebook page with Flatiron Books on May 9.

Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, Vincent Viola, gave overwhelmingly to Democrats in 2016. The biggest recipient was incoming Democratic U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who received $32,500.

Trump’s sons are offering face time with their father to millionaire donors to “sportman’s charities.” A brochure for the Opening Day Foundation offers $1 million “Bald Eagle” donors a private reception with the president-elect as well as other exclusive treatment the day after the inauguration.

Long Island and New York City police increased patrols after a truck in Berlin rammed into a crowded Christmas market on Monday, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more.

A federal judge in Manhattan has ordered the partial unsealing of a government search warrant and supporting documents stemming from a federal inquiry into emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The documents will be posted on the court’s docket at noon today unless the decision is appealed and stayed or modified by a federal appeals court.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ongoing sparring match with Gov. Andrew Cuomo heated up during a NY1 interview last night, with the mayor insisting the NYPD doesn’t need state troopers crossing into its jurisdiction.

De Blasio also said there is not a single example of donors to his political causes getting preferential treatment from the city.

The state has already pushed back the start time of the Second Avenue Subway just hours after promising it would start at 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, and the line won’t be running overnight until more than a week later, officials said.

Cuomo, who has been pressing officials to open the line by the end of the year, said local leaders would take a ceremonial ride on the Second Avenue line on New Year’s Eve and perhaps toast the opening of the long-delayed project with champagne.

Animal-loving NYC Parks Department workers have been secretly bucking protocol by relocating critters out of the Big Apple so they won’t suffer the same fate as a beloved, one-antlered deer that died in city custody.

More >


Several electors (not in New York) bucked their states today by opting to cast their presidential ballots for someone other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Despite protests and some turmoil, Trump is poised to clinch the Electoral College vote – as expected.

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds 52 percent of registered voters nationally think the popular vote, not the Electoral College, should be the determinant in future presidential elections.

Showing the loss of his wife’s campaign still stings, former President Bill Clinton, after casting his ballot on her behalf in Albany, lashed out at “Russians and the FBI” for contributing to her defeat.

Also from the McClathy-Marist poll: Americans are divided over whether Melania Trump will be a good first lady.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said taking part in the Electoral College vote is “an important constitutional duty,” though he remains a supporter of awarding electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the winner of the popular vote in individual states.

Trump has selected Vincent Viola, an Army veteran and founder of a high-speed trading firm, to be secretary of the Army, adding another figure from the business world without government experience to his Cabinet.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had a chat today with likely incoming HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

President Obama has pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentence of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president, the White House said.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that’s set to air on CBS on tonight, First Lady Michelle Obama discussed how she was personally affected by the racist stereotypes that stuck to her during her husband’s campaign and even once they’d moved into the White House.

AG Eric Schneiderman has launched a petition calling Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt the “wrong choice” to head the EPA.

A criminal complaint against Bill Nojay, the Assemblyman who took his own life in September, has been unsealed.

According to the complaint, Nojay illegally misdirected funds from a legal client’s escrow account to his campaign, to a lobbyist, to his children, and to pay property taxes on his home.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office released a long-awaited audit of the Success Academy charter school network that found several “irregularities” with the city’s largest and most influential charter group’s finances and with some of the services it offers.

Top executives of a hedge fund at the center of a scandal that ousted the powerful former NYC correction officers’ union boss were slapped today with charges of financial fraud.

Trump has continued employing a private security and intelligence team at his victory rallies, and he is expected to keep at least some members of the team after he becomes president. The arrangement represents a major break from tradition.

The Big Apple drew more than 60 million visitors to the five boroughs last year — an all-time record, officials announced.

A Manhattan federal judge has ordered the public release of the search warrant that FBI agents used to reopen their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server just weeks before the presidential election.

A visit last week to Trump Tower by Rep. Pete King’s daughter, Hempstead Town Board member Erin King Sweeney, with her father and Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle has sparked speculation about her future.

A politically charged investigation by the Onondaga County district attorney looking for misconduct at Syracuse City Hall has fizzled out without producing any allegations of wrongdoing.

The state’s second-largest medical malpractice insurer, Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, continues to struggle financially, reporting significant losses through the end of the third quarter and setting up a potential showdown with the Cuomo administration in 2017.

Judge Merrick Garland will not be joining the US Supreme Court after months of Senate inaction on the nomination. Instead, in January, he has decided to resume hearing cases in the federal appeals court on which he already sits in Washington, DC.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan appointed Deputy Police Chief Robert Sears to oversee the department while the city begins a national search for the next police chief.

Here and Now

It’s a busy day in Albany – especially for the week leading up to Christmas – with many high-profile Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, expected in the state Senate chamber at the Capitol at noon to cast their Electoral College votes.

The voting will also bring together the state’s chief frenemies – NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who haven’t been in the same room for a while, and definitely not since Bambigate last week, in which they both blamed each other for the death of a one-antlered deer stranded in Harlem.

Electors all over the nation will be gathering today, and some states, (not New York, which will be casting its 29 votes for Hillary Clinton), will be very closely watched to see if so-called “faithless electors” cast their votes in a manner not in keeping with the outcome of the November election.

There’s a last-ditch effort underway to deny President-elect Donald Trump the White House, but it’s highly unlikely to succeed.

Cuomo is scheduled to cast his vote as an elector in Albany, but first he’ll be making an announcement at the Museum of Modern Art related to the 2nd Avenue Subway in NYC.

Also, the Assembly Democrats are holding a hearing on cybersecurity today – an issue that has taken on heightened importance and significance in the wake of the presidential election, which intelligence agencies say was hacked by the Russians.

And, of course, the “will they or won’t they” speculation continues at the Capitol regarding a special session where lawmakers would vote to hike their own pay. Time is quickly running out, unless legislative leaders and the governor are interested in returning to Albany between Christmas and New Year’s.

A full calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


Fresh signs emerged that President-elect Donald Trump could embrace the intelligence community’s view that the Russians were behind a computer-hacking operation aimed at influencing the November election. A senior Trump aide said his boss could accept Russia’s involvement if there is a unified presentation of evidence from the FBI and other agencies.

This follows an intensifying bipartisan push on Capitol Hill, led by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic Senate minority leader, to launch a separate investigation into the matter.

McCain again decried Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential race, and called for a select Senate committee to investigate the country’s cyber activities during the election.

A showdown in Congress is looming over expanding sanctions against Russia, possibly pitting lawmakers once again against Trump and his secretary of state nominee who previously has opposed them.

Trump’s top advisers are jousting over control of the new political group they are forming to help press the president-elect’s agenda, as rival camps have formed with repercussions for who ends up as senior staff at the White House.

President Obama sees a role for himself in rebuilding the Democratic Party after he leaves office — coach. “What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent,” Obama told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an exit interview.

Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she “regretted” her controversial tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton this summer while the FBI was still investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a secret server for her emails during her tenure as secretary of state.

In its final episode of 2016, “Saturday Night Live” did not pull punches, going hard at some of Trump’s sensitive spots, including his relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his marriage to his current wife.

Blockbuster actor Sylvester Stallone said he would rather help veterans than the Trump administration as the National Endowment for the Arts chairman – a job for which he has reportedly been proposed.

Trump has corrected his spelling in a tweet blasting China’s seizure of a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater glider. The president-elect put out a fresh tweet Saturday saying that the seizure of the drone was an “unprecedented” act, after having earlier tweeted that the act was “unprecedented.”

A majority of American voters favors delaying the Electoral College vote today until electors can be fully briefed on Russian interference in the election, according to a new poll conducted by YouGov and sponsored by the progressive advocacy group Avaaz.

So much for unity. State Democrats need to stop listening to “fringe groups” on the left and concentrate on winning back working and middle class New Yorkers, IDC Leader Jeff Klein said.

Sen. Carl Marcellino has won re-election in the 5th Senate District on Long Island after a count of nearly 12,000 paper ballots, election officials and party leaders confirmed Sunday.

Gov. Andrew is upping the ante in his ongoing political war with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio by planning to double the number of state troopers in the Big Apple.

Even as he touts enactment of a $15 minimum wage and other pro-worker laws, Cuomo is set to host a pricey fundraiser Wednesday featuring Mario Batali – a celebrity chef who once settled for $5.25 million a lawsuit claiming he cheated 1,100 of his workers out of tips.

Cuomo, in an ambitious, unflinching New Year’s resolution, guaranteed the long-awaited, long-delayed Second Ave. subway will open to the public on Jan. 1. “We all want to make it happen,” the governor said as he gave the Daily News an exclusive tour of New York’s newest underground marvel.

More >


The FBI is supporting the CIA’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the presidential election with the goal of supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump.

So far, of the 20 or so cabinet and other top-level advisory positions Trump has announced, not one has gone to a Democrat. With only a few seats left at the table, Democrats hope it will stay that way.

In what is likely to be a recurring theme in 2017, a coalition of labor and environmental groups urged Cuomo to stand up to the policies they believe Trump is about to enact on a national scale.

The head of Poland’s governing party says he met with Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now a close adviser to Trump.

In a letter to Trump, Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, pointed out that comments by the president-elect’s secretary of the Treasury pick, Steven Mnuchin, about “limiting the ability to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on federal tax returns” could harm the region.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the “Subway Therapy” walls that popped up in subway stations around New York City around the 2016 presidential election will be partially preserved.

Joanna Pasceri, the former Channel 7 anchor and current spokeswoman for acting Erie County DA Michael Flaherty, changed her party registration in October from Democrat to Conservative, bolstering speculation that she will run for the county clerk vacancy created by last month’s election of current Republican Clerk Chris Jacobs to the state Senate.

A high-priced auction for coffee with the future first daughter Ivanka Trump appears to have been canceled, as criticism mounted that the Trumps were selling access.

John Degnan, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, recalls an unpleasant phone call from Cuomo about the agency’s plans to provide several billion dollars in funding for a new bus terminal in midtown Manhattan.

Jared Kushner today told a gathering of business leaders in New York City that his father-in-law’s federal infrastructure vision is “closer” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s, the incoming minority leader, than to the majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s.

More than one-third of Americans are having trouble making ends meet, according to a new Marist poll.

Departing HUD Secretary Julian Castro today urged his likely successor in the Trump administration, Ben Carson, to maintain assistance to the cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority, and called for “reasonable minds and a sober approach” to recognize the contributions public housing residents make to the local and national economy.

Responding publicly for the first time to a report that two grand juries are hearing testimony in investigations involving his campaign and political nonprofit’s fundraising, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio continued to insist he followed the law and did what his lawyers told him to do.

More Americans support the popular vote over the Electoral College as the method for electing U.S. presidents, but a majority thinks the 2016 electors should cast their vote for the candidate who won the most votes in their state, according to a CBS News poll.

Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top homelessness official, said that city is less concerned about “noise” from critics at the state level and protesting residents and focused on the “problem in front of us.”

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s office must rehire a victims’ advocate who says she was fired for trying to help a victim, a judge has ruled.

Statoil Wind won the lease rights to build an offshore wind farm on 79,350 acres of ocean more than 11 miles from Jones Beach for a record-setting price of $42.46 million, according to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

At 8:15 a.m., New York Law School’s CityLaw Breakfast Series features NYC Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, New York Law School, 185 West Broadway, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Sen. James Sanders hosts a community clergy breakfast, on the topic of President-elect Donald Trump and the faith based community, Christ Pentecostal Temple, 109-45 157th St., Jamaica, Queens.

At 10 a.m., NYC Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Carlos Menchaca and Assembly member-elect Carmen De La Rosa call out President-elect Donald Trump on alarming lack of diversity in cabinet appointments, including not a single Latino appointment, 56th Street and 5th Avenue, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and will be taking questions from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblymember-elect Brian Barnwell discuss new legislation to require city agencies to present photo proof they when they issue summonses for violations, 32-37 Junction Blvd., Queens.

At 10:30 a.m., Sens. Joe Robach and Robert Ortt, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and others call for a budget increase in funding for direct care workers, The Arc of Monroe’s James V. C. and Anita Lambert Enrichment Campus, 2657 W. Henrietta Rd., Rochester.

At 12:15 p.m., Capital Region community groups call on Cuomo to #TakeTrumpOn and use his upcoming state budget to make New York the national climate and clean energy leader, state Capitol, 3rd Floor, outside the Senate Chambers, Albany.

At 1 p.m., de Blasio will host a press conference with HUD Secretary Julián Castro and T-Mobile to make an announcement about internet access in public housing, BronxWorks Betances Community Center, 547 East 146th St., the Bronx.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams holds his annual Senior Holiday Party, organized in partnership with the Flatbush Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Arts Council, Tropical Paradise Ballroom, 1367 Utica Ave., Brooklyn.

At 2:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins McAlpin Industries for a ribbon cutting at a new manufacturing complex, 856 Rt. 441, Walworth.


President Obama said that the United States would retaliate for Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election, asserting that “we need to take action,” and “we will.”

Russian hackers tried to penetrate the computer networks of the RNC, using the same techniques that allowed them to infiltrate its Democratic counterpart, according to U.S. officials who have been briefed on the attempted intrusion.

Hillary Clinton said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged involvement in the hacking of Democratic organizations during the 2016 election stemmed from a longtime grudge he has held against her.

Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, issued a scathing rebuke to the FBI in a Washington Post OpEd, writing that “something is deeply broken” at the bureau.

Clinton held a “thank you” party for her biggest donors at The Plaza – a hotel in Manhattan that was purchased by Trump in 1988, and was renovated by his then-wife, Ivana. He later married his second wife, Marla Maples, in the hotel’s grand ballroom.

Top Clinton aide Huma Abedin wants to see search warrants for emails from her estranged husband’s computer before a judge releases them to the public, according to new court documents.

Trump’s transition team is recruiting several New Yorkers active in his campaign – including Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy – to serve in top transition team posts.

A group of Colorado Democratic electors seeking to vote against Clinton in defiance of the state’s popular vote are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to set aside a Denver judge’s ruling allowing the Secretary of State to replace them.

If you want a job with the Trump administration, you need to get on Rep. Chris Collins’s spreadsheet.

Former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault is joining Trump’s transition team.

Trump has nominated David Friedman — a Jewish Orthodox bankruptcy lawyer with imperialist views — to serve as his ambassador to Israel, drawing ire from liberals in the small Middle Eastern country and praise from its growing nationalist block.

The president-elect’s selection of Friedman elevates a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Before a mostly white audience at a rally in Pennsylvania, Trump thanked “smart” African Americans who didn’t come out to vote in the November election.

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a WNY native, will enter the race for Democratic National Committee chairman, giving the party a well-known establishment choice against its ascendant Bernie Sanders wing. He’s the fourth man seeking to lead the party.

A Texas federal judge slammed the brakes on plans to let Exxon Mobil Corp. find out if the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general launched climate change investigations into the oil giant in bad faith, putting a stay on the discovery he had ordered until further notice.

The never-ending battle between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached a new low – or high, depending on your point of view. They’re now tussling over the fate of a one-antlered deer who wandered into Harlem and got stuck there.

The buck was offered a last-minute reprieve from death row late yesterday by Cuomo. But shortly before midnight, the city said in a statement that it planned to put the deer to death this morning, calling it “the only humane and safe recourse.”

Two separate grand juries in Manhattan have begun hearing testimony in connection with federal and state criminal investigations into de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising, raising speculation that indictments – though not necessarily against the mayor himself – might be in the offing.

De Blasio was fined nearly $48,000 by the New York City Campaign Finance Board for improper spending and other campaign finance violations recorded during the 2013 mayoral race.

Hours later, the NYC Council passed a bill to limit the activities of outside nonprofit political groups – a measure aimed squarely at the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit political group created by de Blasio and his aides from his 2013 mayoral run, which is now the focus of state and federal investigations into his fundraising.

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President-elect Donald Trump falsely stated that the United States government had waited until after the election “to complain” that Russia had hacked into American political organizations to interfere in the presidential race.

If Trump wins on Monday, it will be only the fifth time the Electoral College chooses a president who did not win the popular vote in the general election. Clinton leads by 2.8 million votes nationally.

The campaign to stop Trump at the Electoral College has no chance, according to a survey conducted by the Associated Press that polled more than 330 of the College’s 538 members.

Rep. Peter King suggested in a meeting today with Trump that the federal government launch a Muslim-surveillance program similar to the one NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly started in New York City after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat and perhaps the most liberal member of the House, called upon members of the Senate to block all of Trump‘s Cabinet appointments unless the real estate mogul submits to full divestment and disclosure from his personal assets and real estate fiefdom.

Actor Scott Baio, who spoke at the RNC this summer, claims that Nancy Mack, the wife of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, attacked him over the weekend because of his support for the president-elect.

“The first step for (Gov. Andrew Cuomo) to be taken remotely seriously as a national leader would be to demonstrate he can lead his own state party into unified opposition to Trump’s toxic agenda,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of “A failure to do so would be disqualifying.”

The head of the FCC, which regulates broadcasters, phone and cable companies, says he will step down in January as Trump takes office, leaving a 2-1 Republican majority on the commission.

The swinging jet age is coming back to New York in the form of the TWA Flight Center Hotel at Kennedy Airport. Cuomo helped break ground on the project today.

After years of negotiations and bickering, the NYC Council today approved plans to allow a developer to buy the air rights from a crumbling pier in Hudson River Park for $100 million, money that would be used to keep the one-time cargo pier from falling into the water.

Across the country, more than 740,000 young immigrants, often called Dreamers, are wondering what will happen to the two-year work permits granted through DACA once Trump takes office.

As NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio faces investigations and fends off allegations that he created a pay-for-play atmosphere in City Hall, several little-known challengers have lined up to face him in 2017, as the bigger names have yet to decide whether they’ll take the plunge.

De Blasio was hit with over $47,000 in fines for violating campaign finance regulations — including having his campaign pick up the tab for a makeup artist for his whole family and a trip to Washington D.C. with his son.

The federal government planned today to auction off a parcel of 79,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Long Island to build a wind farm over fishing grounds that scallop and squid fishermen say are vital to their trade.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill wants New Yorkers to know that his department is focused on crime and violence, not a person’s immigration status. He also has no plans to return to an aggressive use of stop-and-frisk, which Trump has praised.

The long count of paper ballots in two disputed state Senate races on Long Island prompted each side to accuse the other of trying delay a resolution in order to disrupt the opening days of the Senate when leadership and control is decided.

State police have charged the former secretary of Geddes Town Supervisor Manny Falcone with eavesdropping on town employees in the town hall by using microphones attached to security cameras.

Real estate professionals urged Suffolk lawmakers to block a new $300 county fee on mortgage recordings which they said would drive residents off Long Island and hit seniors and first-time home buyers hardest.

With less than 50 days to go until del Lago Resort & Casino opens in Tyre, Seneca County, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the interior of the gaming facility.

Remembering Betty Flood, who blazed a trail for women journalists at the infamously male-dominated state Capitol in Albany.

Aid in Dying Advocates Ramp Up

From the Morning Memo:

Supporters of so-called “death with dignity” legislation, which would allow terminally ill New Yorkers to legally end their lives, are preparing to intensify their efforts in the 2017 session.

The New York office of Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life, recently retained Greenberg Public Relations’ Steve Greenberg, (a frequent CapTon guest and “Insider”), to work on its campaign in the coming year.

The aid in dying bill – sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and IDC member; and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Westchester Democrat – passed the Assembly Health Committee earlier this year, but failed to gain significant traction.

The measure will be reintroduced in 2017, with the goal of attracting bipartisan support and making progress in both the Assembly and the Senate, Greenberg said.

Supporters were encouraged by successful passage of similar bills in Colorado and Washington, D.C., though opponents (both in New York and elsewhere) include the Catholic church and some advocates for the elderly.

Compassion & Choices NY plans to significantly increase its presence both in the media and the halls of the state Capitol.

The organization’s director, Corinne Carey, pledged that not a month will go by in Albany when legislators will not see a major presence of New Yorkers lobbying and advocating for aid in dying legislation.