Liz Benjamin

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The Weekend That Was

The pitched battle looming over the U.S. Supreme Court, along with a jolt to the Democratic leadership at the ballot box last Tuesday, is threatening to shatter the already fragile architecture of the Democratic Party, as an activist rebellion on the left and a lurch to the right in Washington propels the party toward a moment of extraordinary conflict and forced reinvention.

Powering forward with a decision that could reshape the U.S. Supreme Court for decades, President Trump said he will announce his choice to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9, and two women are among his top candidates for the job.

Experts say Kennedy’s retirement presents a potentially crippling threat to growing efforts by voting rights advocates and Democrats to halt gerrymanders by legal and political means.

In major cities and tiny towns, hundreds of thousands of marchers gathered Saturday across America – including in New York – moved by accounts of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, in the latest act of mass resistance against Trump’s immigration policies.

Several prominent Democrats who are mulling a bid for the White House in 2020 have sought to bolster their progressive credentials by calling for major changes to immigration enforcement, with some pressing for the outright abolition of ICE. Trump responded on Twitter that it will “never happen!”

“To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave!”

The Trump administration says a ruling this week by a federal judge in San Diego requiring the government to reunify families separated at the border means authorities can legally keep families detained until their cases are complete.

Trump will suffocate Iran’s “dictatorial ayatollahs,” his close ally and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, suggesting his move to re-impose sanctions was aimed squarely at regime change.

Trump said he plans to bring up Russian election meddling during his upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin, part of a wide-ranging list of topics that could include sanctions and the status of Crimea.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry sent a not-so-subtle signal to Cuomo that the federal government may intervene to keep New York officials from blocking natural gas pipelines.

General Motors warned that if Trump pushed ahead with another wave of tariffs, the move could backfire, leading to “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages” for its employees.

The man accused of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper was investigated five years ago for a barrage of menacing tweets against staff members, but a detective concluded he was no threat, and the paper didn’t want to press charges for fear of inflaming the situation, according to a police report.

The fatal shooting at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., reverberated throughout newsrooms across the country, not only for its tragedy but also for the familiarity of conflicts like the suspected gunman’s long-running feud with the paper.

Reporter-turned-crime-writer Laura Lippman recalls one of the victims of the shooting, Rob Hiaasen, with whom she worked at The Baltimore Sun.

Two of Cuomo’s daughters from his marriage to Kerry Kennedy — Mariah, 23, and Michaela, 20 — are headlining a fundraiser for their dad at Montauk hotspot The Surf Lodge on July 14.

Cuomo will visit Rome Monday to make an announcement about the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, according to city hall officials.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise: “Perhaps, instead it’s time New Yorkers elect a governor more interested in fixing New York’s issues than he is in bashing President Donald Trump or bolstering his resume for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.”

With criticism on the left and right, it appears no one outside the Cuomo administration is pleased with his economic development policies, except for the recipients of some of the billions of dollars in taxpayer funds awarded each year to boost employment.

Rep. John Katko, with $1.3 million in cash in his campaign account, begins his reelection bid against Democrat Dana Balter with a $1.2 million advantage over his opponent in available campaign funds.

A New York congressman has forfeited $35,000 in contributions from a health care company under federal investigation, but Cuomo says he won’t return $400,000 in donations from the same firm unless its officials did something wrong.

Large parts of the campaign website of NY-23 Democratic candidate Max Della Pia’s, who’s leading in the primary to take on Republican Rep. Tom Reed in November, are lifted, word for word in many cases, from the website of Jon Ossoff, a Democrat who lost a special House election in Georgia last year.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams’ challenge to LG Kathy Hochul has forced her to open her own campaign finance account, schedule fundraisers apart from Cuomo, hire her own campaign consultants and work hard to gain backing from NYC Democratic clubs like Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, Independent Village Democrats and Chelsea Democrats.

After two months, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is still waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why one of its former doctors was allowed to continue working at a VA clinic in Watertown after being accused of sexually abusing patients.

Risa Sugarman, the state Board of Elections’ chief enforcement counsel, wrote a searing letter to the board accusing its partisan members of attempting to hobble her investigative authority with rules that would limit her subpoena powers.

As the race for governor accelerates, Republican nominee Marc Molinaro says the Cuomo campaign is trying falsely to define him as an ultraconservative out of step with most New Yorkers on social issues.

While Molinaro has been railing against Cuomo on the campaign trail for his lack of ethics and campaign finance reform – among other issues – Democrats back in Dutchess County are assailing his own local record.

Asked whether it was true that she’d aspired since she was a teenager to be president someday, NY-14 Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was “exhausting just running in the Bronx and Queens” and she can’t imagine how national candidates do it.

The results of local races, including Ocasio-Cortez’s win, reveal a coalition fueled by the same economic anxieties that supposedly drove Trump voters.

More >


Two words: Heat dome.

A heat wave the likes of which the tri-state area hasn’t seen in nearly two years – a five-day stretch of 90-degree-plus temperatures – is expected to last up to the Fourth of July.

President Trump, who has labeled the news media “the enemy of the people” and routinely encourages supporters at his rallies to join in his verbal attacks against the journalists covering him, condemned the deadly newsroom shooting in Maryland.

“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” Trump said.

An online fundraiser for the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting had blown past its $80,000 goal and reached over $100,000 pledged as of this morning.

Editorial cartoonists drew from the heart as the mass shootings they so often have to convey hit close to home.

A woman who claimed that the Capital Gazette shooting suspect had stalked, harassed and sued her warned a former police official that “he will be your next mass shooter.”

The man who gunned down four journalists and a salesperson in a targeted attack at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis used a pump-action shotgun purchased legally and blocked the exit doors before he was arrested, charged with murder and held without bail.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showered his wife, Elaine Chao, with praise last night, over her confrontation with protesters who wanted the Kentucky Republican to answer for immigrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S. southern border.

There are 327 migrant children in New York State who were separated from their families out of a total currently just over 2,000 in the United States, according to unnamed federal sources who provided previously undisclosed statistics.

A comedian best known for his stints on “The Howard Stern Show” says he was able to reach Trump aboard Air Force One by impersonating New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.

Hillary Clinton has dismissed Democratic calls to exercise civility after several Trump administration aides were shunned and heckled in public, saying: “Give me a break! What is more uncivil and cruel than taking children away? It should be met with resolve and strength.”

They’re both from New York City — but Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned whether Trump is ready to “deal with a girl from the Bronx.”

Syracuse University filed a motion earlier this month asking a judge to require the anonymous Theta Tau members who are suing the school to identify themselves.

Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, is endorsing Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout for state attorney general.

A former aide to NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who calls the Democrat his “best friend,” said that he was not sexually abused by Johnson, despite previously writing an email saying he was.

SUNY Upstate Medical University paid a former top official $660,500 to read journals, chat with personal and professional contacts and look for other jobs during a 14-month off-campus assignment.

James Dolan, the owner that Knicks fans love to hate, may be laying the groundwork for a sale of the franchise, announcing he is exploring a spin-off that would separate the Knicks and the Rangers from the rest of Madison Square Garden.

Gillibrand Doubles Down on Abolishing ICE

Last night, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first sitting member of her chamber to call for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the agency is not “working as intended.”

Gillibrand, who is New York’s junior senator and is often mentioned as a potential contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said the agency “has become a deportation force,” and should be reimagined as an entity that helps families, separating out criminal justice issues.

Gillibrand’s comments came in response to a question from Cuomo, the brother of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, (who, by the way, has criticized ICE, but thus far refused to go so far as to call for it to be scrapped, even as his primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, has done so), as to whether she agrees with the views on this issue of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old political newcomer who stunned national and New York Democrats by defeating veteran Queens Rep. Joe Crowley in this week’s primary.

Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise upset victory has already had a significant impact on New York Democratic elected officials, sending them scurrying into the arms of other insurgent candidates – like the primary challengers of former Senate IDC members – and pronouncing support for all manner of liberal ideologies.

Not surprisingly, Gillibrand’s comments drew criticism from the right. The RNC sent out an email saying the senator’s “shift of positions on immigration is downright comical at this point,” noting that in the past, she sponsored the SAVE Act, which aimed to crack down on illegal immigration with more border guards, accelerated deportations, and mandatory requirements for employers to verify employee immigration status.

As a congresswoman representing a closely divided upstate district, Gillibrand also opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, calling it “fatally flawed,” declared English should be the official language of the U.S., and went to the mat with then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, over his (eventually scuttled) proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

“Expect more Senate Democrats to trip over themselves in an effort to follow Gillibrand’s swing to the radical left,” said RNC spokeswoman Ellie Hockenbury. “…This isn’t the first time the 2020 Democrat class has hurried to take drastically new positions to get on the side of the socialist wing of the party, and it likely won’t be the last.”

Gillibrand has said on multiple occasions that her positions on immigration – as well as other hot-button social issues, like gun control – evolved after she was tapped by former Gov. David Paterson to inherit the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when she ran her first unsuccessful campaign for president.

Despite the criticism, however, Gillibrand is doubling down on her ICE position, sending out an email earlier today urging her supporters to sign an online petition joining her in her call for abolishing the agency.

“ICE has become a cruel deportation force,” Gillibrand wrote. “This agency has carried out the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, including separating children and parents. People are coming to the United States seeking asylum and a better life for their families – and President Trump is slamming the door on them.”

“ICE is meant to provide security and enforcement. But it has morphed into something much more by conducting raids and deporting people who’ve lived in and contributed to this country for many years.”

“It’s wrong. Congress needs to abolish ICE, and we need to start over, separating the criminal justice and immigration roles. Together, we can build a better system that is humane, just and recognizes that immigration adds to America’s strength and security. We can’t let up until we get it.”

“…The mistreatment of immigrant children and families is one of the most urgent crises we face. ICE has lost trust. It stokes fear. It has to go.
Raising our voices and refusing to let up is how we’ll change this country for the better. It’s the only way change has ever come. So please raise your voice now.”

Also, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” added his name to the growing list of Democratic elected officials calling for ICE to be abolished, saying: “We should create something better, something different.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in NYC with no public events scheduled.

President Donald Trump this morning receives his daily intelligence briefing, and then delivers remarks celebrating the six month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Later, the president and First Lady Melania Trump travel to Bedminster, NJ, apparently to visit Trump National Golf Club for the weekend.

At 8 a.m., New Yorkers whose loved ones were killed by reckless drivers will lead a protest outside Sen. Marty Golden’s office, blockading the entrance and demanding he return to Albany and bring a bill to renew and expand New York City’s speed safety camera program to a vote, 7408 5th Ave., Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro visits the Northeast Transformer, 7209 State Route 281, Preble.

At 10 a.m., NYC Council members I. Daneek Miller, Adrienne Adams and Costa Constantinides celebrate the recent passage of commercial dumping penalties bill and present new commercial truck abuse legislation, Springfield Boulevard and 121st Avenue, Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” and take questions from listeners who call in.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer endorses Catalina Cruz, a Democrat running in the 39th AD, Roosevelt Avenue and 70th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens.

At 10:10 Molinaro visits Trinity Valley Dairy, 2847 Route 13, Cortland, and then will move on to Forbes Farm, 4979 East River Crossing, Cortland.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Administration for Children’s Services unveils the city’s Safe Sleep Toolkit, which will be provided to new moms and dads at public hospitals the city upon discharge, Harlem Hospital Center, 506 Lenox Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., GOP LG candidate Julie Killian will be a guest on WNBF 1290 News Radio with Bob Joseph.

At 11 a.m., Molinaro visit Leach’s Custom Trash, 1834 Route 13, Cortland.

At 11:15 a.m., Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Greg Meeks, and Grace Meng tour Children’s Village – one of four facilities in Westchester County holding immigrant children separated from their families at the border by the Trump administration, (a press conference will follow), 175 Walgrove Ave., Dobbs Ferry.

At 11:30 a.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Assemblywoman Pat Fahy; state, regional and local officials, Callanan Industries and Creighton Manning Engineering representatives, and community members highlight the completion of the major components of the second and final phase of the Madison Avenue Street Calming project, corner of Madison and South Lake avenues, Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Molinaro visits Suit-Kote, 3779 Route 11, McGraw.

At noon, NYC Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson will host the first annual District 16 Caribbean Heritage Month Celebration to celebrate the achievements and cultural of the Caribbean people in the West Bronx, Andrew Freedman Home, 1125 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 12:15 p.m., County Executive Ed Day, Commissioner of Finance Stephen DeGroat and Rockland County legislators announce news relating to the soon to be released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report on Rockland County’s 2017 finances, county executive’s media room, Allison Parris Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Rd., New City.

At 12:30 p.m., Molinaro has lunch at Fat Jack’s, 34 Tompkins St., Cortland.

At 1 p.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and other local elected officials pay tribute to former Yonkers Mayor Angelo R. Martinelli with the unveiling of a bronze plaque dedicated to him, Metro-North Yonkers train station, 5 Buena Vista Ave., Yonkers.

At 1:30 p.m., Westchester County County Executive George Latimer and Suffolk County County Executive Steven Bellone meet with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to discuss suburban issues affecting the three counties, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Molinaro visits Forkey’s Fabrication Plant, 3690 Luker Rd., Cortland.

At 2:30 p.m., Molinaro meets Romeo the Bull, White Farm, 826 Cold Spring Rd., Cortland.

At 3 p.m., Molinaro visits Square Deal, 98 Route 11, Marathon.

At 4:15 p.m., Molinaro attends the Maple Festival, 26 Main St., Marathon.


Police in Maryland have identified the five newspaper employees killed during a shooting at an Annapolis newsroom.

They are: Assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, editor and reporter John McNamara, special publications editor Wendi Winters and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

Journalists at the Annapolis publication set up shop outside the office, using laptops and phones to write, edit and lay out pages. Some even used the back of a pick-up truck as a makeshift desk.

Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, who had a long-standing grudge against The Capital, is being held as the suspect in the shooting, according to law enforcement sources. In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper and a columnist over a July 2011 article that covered a criminal harassment charge against him.

The shooting prompted law enforcement agencies across the country – including here in New York – to provide protection at the headquarters of media organizations.

New York U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first sitting senator to call for the elimination of ICE, telling CNN that the agency should be “reimagined.”

If Rep. Joseph Crowley’s loss this week to a young insurgent candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rattled the national Democratic Party, it did a great deal more to upend the political order in New York City, where Crowley was perhaps the last powerful party boss in a city once defined by them.

“Clearly the Democratic base is extremely angry, hungering for change and they showed that,” NYC Council President Corey Johnson said as he endorsed primary challengers to former Senate IDC members after Crowley’s fall. “In the political world, one day you’re up, the next day you’re down. Politics is cyclical; life is cyclical.”

Johnson, who recently endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid, is breaking a truce brokered by the governor and Crowley between the former IDC members and the so-called “regular” Senate Democrats, and is one of the biggest names to do so to date.

Johnson became speaker largely with Crowley’s help and support, but brushed off suggestions that his clout is diminished due to the congressman’s loss, saying: “I stand as my own person.” He laughed off the suggestion that Council members would be more likely to buck his leadership with the party boss dethroned.

Alessandra Biaggi, 32, who is challenging former IDC Leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx senator, got an important boost when an influential union in New York, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, endorsed her. Klein denigrated Biaggi for accepting Johnson’s endorsement.

There’s only one person standing between newly minted Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Crowley in the primary, and Washington — a Queens Republican who hasn’t even filed the paperwork needed to raise campaign funds.

Andrew Miller, a former aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., the longtime Trump adviser and self-described “dirty trickster,” was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury hearing evidence in the Russia investigation and to hand over documents, and his lawyer moved to quash it in court.

Miller previously served as the gubernatorial campaign manager to Kristin Davis, a woman who claimed to be a madam used by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to obtain prostitutes.

A former Columbia University student joined the Islamic State, then fled Syria and surrendered to the F.B.I. And now, because of his cooperation, a judge has given him his freedom.

The unusual arrangement that allows the leader of New York City’s transit system, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, to hold other lucrative jobs was initially deemed inappropriate by a state ethics commission, JCOPE, but it was later permitted in a brief email rather than through a formal decision.

JCOPE reversed course on Lhota after he convinced the commission he was not a state officer or employee and was only being compensated on a “per diem” basis for his “strategic and advisory” work at the MTA. He argued that day-to-day management of the agency would be handled other MTA executives.

Joel Davis, a 22-year-old Columbia University student whose global campaign against rape and sexual abuse of children earned him berths to speak alongside United Nations and State Department officials, was himself charged this week with a series of sex crimes against children.

The Cuomo administration abruptly dropped its plan to pursue a tunnel from Westchester County to Long Island despite drawing interest from major developers, which the governor himself repeatedly touted, and did not explain why.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan federal court corruption trial over alleged bid-rigging in Cuomo’s upstate economic development projects were given permission to reopen their case after resting yesterday and failing to prove a key technical element on one of the charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni called the prosecution’s case “thin,” and said she was almost persuaded by defense lawyers’ arguments to dismiss some of the charges against Syracuse-based Cor Development executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros and Buffalo Billion builder Louis Ciminelli.

More >


President Trump plans to meet President Vladimir V. Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16 for one-on-one talks, the White House said, a politically delicate meeting that will take place while the special counsel continues to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

At least four people have been shot at the Capital-Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, Annapolis police said.

Former President Obama is expected to stump for Democrats on the campaign trail starting in September.

The upheaval in the New York Democratic Party continued as NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson ignored a truce engineered by Cuomo, (whom the speaker is backing for re-election), and endorsed four progressive challengers to incumbents in the state Senate.

During a rally in North Dakota last night, Trump underscored the importance of protecting the GOP’s Senate majority this fall, deeming it especially critical in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

With the GOP majority already teetering at 51-49, senators and strategists from both parties said the clash over the balance of the Supreme Court would immediately overwhelm a campaign that has thus far largely revolved around Trump’s conduct and issues surrounding the economy, immigration and health care.

Republicans who support abortion rights have long been an endangered species in the House. But next year, the rare breed will finally be extinct, as retirements of Reps. Charlie Dent and Rodney Frelinghuysen mark the end of the line for abortion rights supporters in the GOP conference.

First Lady Melania Trump made her second immigration-related trip, this time leaving her controversial outerwear at home.

Errol Louis: “For the last two decades, above Crowley’s good deeds as a champion of working-class issues wafted the odor of stinky insider deals associated with his chairmanship of the Queens Democratic Party. Locally, it will do little good to replace Crowley in Congress if the clubhouse stays in place.”

Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is the latest elected official to back Democratic actress-turned-activist Cynthia Nixon over Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, who has received more than $100,000 from the oil and gas industry this election cycle, told activists at a fundraising event last night that he would stop accepting fossil fuel donations.

Filmmaker Josh Fox, who was deeply involved in the anti-fracking movement, also backed Nixon, saying Cuomo hasn’t “followed through” on his fracking ban.

Bruce Turkel, a Miami advertising executive who had been a frequent guest on Fox News, said in a sharply worded letter that he will no longer appear on the network because of its coverage of immigration.

The federal corruption retrial for former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, will begin on Oct. 9.

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals ruled the NYC Health Department acted “squarely within” its authority when it moved in 2013 to require that children between the ages of 6 months and 59 months receive flu vaccinations before they attended child care or school-based programs.

A state court handed down a decision in grievances against former St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain, suspending her license to practice law for two years based on its review of complaints of professional misconduct against her.

In an unexpected development in the Buffalo Billion case, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni appeared ready to toss wire fraud charges against developer Louis Ciminelli and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute leader Alain Kaloyeros after Ciminelli’s attorney argued the case had no grounds to be tried in Manhattan.

Speak Out Central New York launched a month-long, six-figure ad buy targeting Rep. Claudia Tenney’s votes to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

State lawmakers and transit advocates rallied at Borough Hall Station in Brooklyn this morning in support of improving the NYC subway system.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is violating state ethics law — and public trust — by claiming he’s not an agency employee while he continues to make big bucks at other jobs, Common Cause NY said.

The NYPD is probing why two cops didn’t render any apparent aid to 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz as he bled to death on a sidewalk last week following a vicious gang attack.

The Buffalo Police Department discriminated against people of color through traffic enforcement practices, including checkpoints that targeted neighborhoods where the majority of residents are black or Latino, according to allegations contained in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed today.

The ever popular free giveaway days at the Saratoga Racetrack have been announced for the 2018 meet.

Fleischer Boosts Basile

From the Morning Memo:

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has endorsed his former Bush administration colleague Tom Basile in Basile’s quest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bill Larkin this fall.

Fleischer said the seat Basile seeks could serve as “the firewall between taxpayers struggling to live in New York and the state’s liberal Democrats who want complete control of state government.”

In a combination endorsement/fundraising appeal email, Fleischer called Basile, who served as a senior press advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and also worked in the press office for the EPA, “a friend who is uniquely qualified and a tireless public servant.”

“Tom’s resume is an impressive one,” Fleischer continued. “Beyond his service in the Bush Administration in several roles, including as an advisor to the Coalition government in Iraq, he’s an elected official, bestselling author, small business owner, a former Sirius XM Radio host, and believe it or not, he’s still had time to be a husband and father of three wonderful young children.”

“When Tom served in the Administration, he worked hard to make all of us proud. He’ll do it again as a state Senator in the Hudson Valley.”

A Westchester County native, Fleischer left the White House in 2003. His name has come up from time to time as a potential candidate for elected office in New York, though so far he has declined to run for anything, preferring instead to limit his political efforts to assisting fellow Republicans.

Basile was not-so-quietly preparing for a campaign in the event that Larkin decided not to seek another term after nearly three decades representing the 39th state Senate District. The senator has endorsed Basile, who is also supported by the Orange County Republican Party and the state GOP, for which he used to work.

However, Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis has announced a bid for Larkin’s seat, which means Basile might have to weather a primary before focusing on the November general election.

The Democrats have put up Assemblyman James Skoufis as their candidate for Larkin’s seat, and are also training their sites on Basile, assuming he’s the stronger GOP candidate, casting him as a “Hudson Valley Steve Bannon” due to his ties to conservative donor Rebekah Mercer.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public events scheduled as of yet.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is also in the city with no public events scheduled.

President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters, where he will deliver remarks, before heading to Mount Pleasant, WI, where he will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for Foxconn.

Trump will then tour Foxconn’s Opus Building and give remarks before departing back to Washington, D.C.

At 9 a.m., Queens NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will join actress/activist Cynthia Nixon at the 46th Street–Bliss Street subway station in Sunnyside, Queens to announce his endorsement of her bid for governor.

At 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Antonio Reynoso, solar industry leaders and others call for more support for solar in low-income households, The Meekerman, 410 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Ritchie Torres announces new Council funding incorporated into the city budget to prevent gang violence in the Bronx, Mt. Carmel Church, 627 E. 187th St., Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce hosts 60 food and beverage exhibitors at Brooklyn Eats, Bklyn Studios, 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, New York City Councilman Stephen Levin and others demand state government funds for the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan to fix and modernize the subway system, Borough Hall station entrance, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., state Senate Democratic candidates Jessica Ramos and Alessandra Biaggi, #VOTEPROCHOICE co-founder Heidi Sieck, and pro-choice advocates call for a special legislative session to pass the Reproductive Health Act in light of Justice Kennedy’s resignation from the Supreme Court, Foley Square, 11 Worth St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., state Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout and voters call on the former IDC senators to return the money they’ve received from the Senate Independence Campaign Committee, Foley Square, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., GOP LG candidate Julie Killian attends a small business rally, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Senate candidates Jen Metzger, Karen Smythe, Joyce St. George and Pat Strong stand together to highlight the lack of progress under the state Senate Republican majority and their respective opponents, third floor, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features Tim Kremer, executive director of the state School Boards Association and others, WCNY.

At noon, NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa and others call for an end to violence among youth, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council celebrate the passage of a resolution recognizing and establishing boundaries within Flatbush, Brooklyn, as Little Haiti, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gives the opening remarks at the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Investors Group’s fifth annual conference, White & Case LLP, 1221 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds for a stated meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro holds a press conference at a yet-to-be-determined location.

At 5 p.m., Molinaro attends the Onondaga County GOP Clambake, Spinning Wheel Restaurant, 7384 Thompson Rd., North Syracuse.

At 5:30 p.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz unveils the Western Queens Tech Zone Strategic Plan, WeWork Queens Plaza, 27-01 Queens Plaza North, Queens.

Also at 5:30 p.m., Killian attends Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign kick off, Elks Lodge, 120 Edgewood Ave., Smithtown.

At 6 p.m., DiNapoli speaks at a Caribbean Heritage Reception, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., 1368 Fulton Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and state Sen. Jeff Klein host the New York Salutes America fireworks celebration, Orchard Beach, Bronx.


Public employee unions expressed their outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions — a costly financial blow to organized labor, particularly in union-heavy New York.

Though it is difficult to predict with precision, experts and union officials say unions could lose 10 percent to one-third of their members, or more, in the states affected by the Janus ruling, as conservative groups seek to persuade workers to drop out.

After the ruling Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order directing state agencies to keep their employees’ personal information private in an effort to protect them from anti-union campaigns — even though such privacy protections already exist in state law.

With Cuomo seated by his side during a discussion of the Janus ruling, CSEA President Danny Donohue compared Trump to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin on Wednesday, saying the Republican president could have given tips to the three despots.

The GOP-led House rejected a compromise immigration bill despite a last-minute, all-caps Twitter endorsement by Trump, who had earlier panned the legislation as a waste of time.

Almost one-third of registered Democratic voters back former Vice President Joe Biden for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, making him the front-runner in a new poll provided exclusively to The Hill.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said any of Trump’s nominees to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy would “threaten our fundamental rights.”

No matter what else happens in the Trump presidency, the retirement of Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s swing voter, sets the president up to cement a lasting legacy.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time in promising a vote on a new Supreme Court nominee by the fall — and Democrats will have little power to prevent confirmation of Trump’s choice on their own.

Kennedy’s retirement puts maximum pressure on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to block a hard-right replacement, one who would tip the court’s already-tenuous balance and undermine cherished precedents such as Roe v. Wade.

Kennedy’s retirement is setting off a momentous confirmation battle for Trump’s next Supreme Court nominee that is certain to consume the Senate, inflame partisan tensions and shape the outcome of the midterm elections.

Cuomo said the U.S. Senate should hold off on replacing Kennedy until after November’s election, calling on lawmakers not to confirm “another partisan” judge.

Just a year ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was slinging margaritas in Manhattan. Now, she’s on the verge of heading to Congress after defeating veteran Queens Rep. Joe Crowley in this week’s primary.

Trump slammed Crowley as “slovenly” last night while praising Ocasio-Cortez, who is decidedly not a supporter of the president, calling her “a young woman who had a lot of energy.”

Ocasio-Cortez will go up against Republican Anthony Pappas in the 14th Congressional District in Queens and the Bronx in November.

Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise upset win is expected to have implications well beyond the five boroughs, and has emboldened progressive state Senate candidates challenging former members of the chamber’s recently disbanded Independent Democratic Conference.

Her stunning victory in the Democratic primary offers a new window into the tug-of-war for the direction of the party as Trump’s presidency stretches through its second year, a fight often overshadowed by the more explosive intraparty debate on the Republican side.

Chris Churchill: “The big takeaway from Tuesday’s primary elections is this: Andrew Cuomo should be shaking in his khakis…the results in New York and elsewhere made it clear that Democratic primary voters continue to want new energy. They don’t don’t necessarily value experience. They want outsiders.”

“Joe Crowley should be the canary in the coal mine for Andrew Cuomo,” an anonymous New York Democrat told the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy. “The lesson is there is an energy and enthusiasm by Democrats who have been radicalized by Trump.”

Cuomo insisted his race against Nixon and Crowley’s loss are “apples and oranges” and can’t be compared. (Nixon disagrees). He said he won’t be shifting any tactics or strategy over the next two months leading up to his primary.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire this summer, setting in motion a furious fight over the future of the U.S. Supreme Court and giving President Trump the chance to cement a conservative judicial philosophy on the American legal system for generations.

Trump said he has a list of about 25 contenders to replace Kennedy.

Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro was put forth as a U.S. Supreme Court contender by the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said it would be the “height of hypocrisy” for Republicans to vote on a nominee to replace Kennedy before the November midterm elections.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision, a group tied to Republican billionaires long opposed to organized labor and its support of the Democratic Party has pledged to build on the landmark ruling to further marginalize employee representation.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has close ties with the groups that bankrolled Janus, cast the decisive fifth vote in favor of hobbling public sector unions.

The Janus decision cuts particularly deep because, writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito emphasized that employees must opt in to union membership.

State regulators are continuing to criticize Spectrum cable over its efforts to expand broadband access in New York, urging the cable company to “cease and desist” false advertising and misleading statements.

The first female executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, has hit out at her former newspaper’s political coverage for not tracking the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who pulled off a shock victory over Rep. Joe Crowley last night.

Michael Tomasky: “Forget the ideological differences for a moment. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shock primary win over veteran Joe Crowley shows the party must embrace the passion of a new generation.”

Ocasio-Cortez went from being a bartender to potentially being a member of Congress in a matter of months.

“I think what it means is that working class Americans are ready and willing and eager to hear a message of economic, social and racial justice and a plan…What this race has really shown is that anything is possible.”

“Every Democratic candidate could be asked now, maybe, ‘Do you agree or disagree with the new face of the Democratic Party that we should abolish Immigration and Customs and Enforcement?'” Kellyanne Conway said in the wake of Ocasio-Cortez’s win.

Turnout in NY-14 was roughly 11.8 percent – about the same as in 2004, the last time Crowley faced a competitive primary challenge.

Errol Louis: “Republican candidates, including moderates, will have to cling to Trump or risk oblivion. And Democrats unwilling to shift left and launch harsh attacks on Trump should expect to come under fire from the party’s fed-up liberal base.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win prompted the NRA to issue a panic-stricken call to arms, saying: “The socialist movement in America is real. It is dangerous. And it is more powerful than you may think.”

ICE has called off in-person hearings at its Manhattan immigration court – forcing immigrants facing deportation to stay in detention centers and appear by video.

Lawmakers questioned NYC Health Department officials at an oversight hearing on efforts to bring down deaths of moms giving birth in the city, which happen at a higher rate there than in the rest of the country.

Former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president Alain Kaloyeros and a Buffalo developer appeared to delete several emails that are now a key part of the bid-rigging case against them, a federal agent testified.

Immigrants who entered the country illegally and face possible deportation will now be able to name legal guardians for their children under a bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, expanding the existing standby guardianship law created in the 1980s.

A New York-based actor-comedian is accusing a Buffalo restaurant of racial discrimination.

Behold: Doughnut fries!


A deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s immigration travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries as a legitimate exercise of executive branch authority.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservatives said the president’s statutory power over immigration was not undermined by his history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to Americans.

The ruling could lead to more bans targeting more people from far more countries, legal experts say.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he feels “guilty” about not wanting to run for president because of the damage Trump has done to the United States and the world. But, he added, he is no hurry to take up residence in the White House.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao grew heated with angry protesters who approached her and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after a Georgetown event, yelling at them to leave her husband alone.

The Finnish capital of Helsinki is being considered as a location for a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a senior U.S. official said.

A federal judge declined to dismiss the case brought against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Virginia, finding no merit in Manafort’s argument that special counsel Robert Mueller did not have authority to charge him with a crime.

Americans have a more negative view of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani today than at any other point in Gallup’s trend, which includes multiple ratings in the years 2004-2008, along with two updates over the past two years.

A new digital ad released by Cuomo’s campaign takes aim at state Senate Republicans for failing to pass a bill designed to take guns out of the hands of those feared to be dangerous

The Citizens Budget Commission is advising Cuomo to veto 10 bills dealing with economic development.

A veteran set himself on fire outside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta after he launched a “personal protest” against the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Georgia State Patrol said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is touting his proposal for an elevated AirTrain to New York City’s traffic-clogged La Guardia Airport as paving the way toward a 30-minute commute from midtown Manhattan by 2022, but its complicated route is being questioned by transportation experts and drawing some derision on social media.

The nation’s rapidly rising suicide rate is a tragedy, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doing more to address two of the most common ways people take their lives: substance abuse and firearms, the agency’s new director said in his first interview in the role.

Prosecution star witness Kevin Schuler wrapped up his testimony in the Buffalo Billion trial today, as defense lawyers sought to both rebut evidence from the former LPCiminelli’s executive and to make their case that their clients were unaware and not involved in any bid-rigging conspiracy for upstate economic development projects.

The MTA has postponed a test of platform barriers that would prevent people from jumping, falling or being pushed onto subway tracks, the agency’s transit chief said.

A trio of NYC Council members says the deli owner who didn’t intervene when gangbangers dragged an innocent teen from his deli and slaughtered him should have his store shuttered.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has agreed to a tentative three-year contract with District Council 37, the city’s largest civilian union, likely setting a wage pattern for its entire municipal workforce.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is again revving up to run for president, making him both the oldest and richest person to seek the job. If he does run in 2020, it will reportedly be as a Democrat.

Ahead of a final hearing on the issue this week, more than 20 restaurateurs — including Danny Meyer — called for the elimination of a tipped minimum wage in New York, while another set of restaurateurs are hosting a press conference this week arguing against the change.

A draft copy of the new version of the standard 1040 income tax form, obtained by The New York Times, shows the administration has succeeded in its goal of shrinking the form that most Americans send to the IRS every year.

Though the numbers are small, reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation this summer of bear sightings in Western New York have doubled from a year ago, DEC wildlife biologists said.

Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live” fame, who was recently engaged to singer Ariana Grande, will star in a new movie to be shot in Syracuse beginning next month.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

The state Legislature is on summer break.

In the afternoon, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump meet with Their Majesties King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the president participates in a bilateral meeting with the king.

Trump then heads to West Columbia, SC, where he will in the :in the McMaster for Governor Rally” at Airport High School before returning to the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Buffalo Billion corruption trial and the Seklos corruption retrial continue in NYC.

State Comptroller DiNapoli is attending the RFK Human Rights Compass Conference, Hyannis, Mass.

At 7 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

At 10 a.m., NYC Councilman I. Daneek Miller and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 3 host a press conference on the 15-month Spectrum worker strike against Charter Communications, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., “The Brian Lehrer Show” features Rep. Joseph Crowley, WNYC.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, 7 World Trade Center, 10th Floor, 250 Greenwich St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will visit Spruce Street School and join students in a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station, 12 Spruce St., Manhattan.

At 11:15 a.m., de Blasio and interim NYCHA Chair Stanley Brezenoff will visit an apartment at Campos Plaza, after which there will be a media availability, NYCHA Campos Plaza, 611 E 13th S., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Two Bridges residents rally to demand the opportunity to provide input on future development in their neighborhood, 22 Reade St., Manhattan.

At noon, Carranza delivers remarks at Leadership and Public Service High School’s commencement ceremony, St. Paul’s Chapel, 209 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio appears live on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.”


President Donald Trump said that people who enter the United States illegally should be sent back immediately to where they came from without any judicial process, likening them to invaders who are trying to “break into” the country – a proposal legal analysts and immigrant rights advocates say would violate the Constitution’s due process provision.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, discussed hiring a friend of a lobbyist family that owned a condominium he was renting for $50 a night, newly released emails suggest.

Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels, was scheduled to meet today for the first time with prosecutors investigating Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal fixer, but the meeting was canceled, according to tweets from Michael Avenatti.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declined to say whether he would support defunding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even as some Democrats have said the agency should be abolished because of the role it plays in apprehending illegal immigrants.

Lena Dunham, Sia, Amber Heard and other stars visited the border city of Tornillo, Texas, to protest the Trump administration’s policy that separated migrant children from their parents.

Comedian and late night host Jimmy Fallon responded to Trump’s tweet about him by saying he would donate to an immigrant advocacy organization in the president’s name.

A prominent Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, said he thought a Virginia restaurant owner was wrong for asking White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her ​eatery.

Rep. Maxine Waters said members of the Trump administration should expect continued harassment at restaurants and in public if they keep defending his “zero tolerance” immigration stance that separated and detained thousands of migrant children away from their parents.

Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of The Red Hen in Lexington, said she asked Sanders to leave because the White House press secretary works for an “inhumane and unethical” administration.

The Washington Post editorial board defended Huckabee Sanders, saying she and other Trump administration staffers deserve to “eat dinner in peace.”

A 15-year-old migrant boy who was housed in a large shelter in a former Walmart near the southern tip of Texas walked off its premises on Saturday and disappeared into the borderland, officials said.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake threatened to block Trump judicial nominees unless there’s a congressional vote on tariffs and other major issues.

The story of a three-year affair that unfolded between a young reporter, Ali Watkins, and James Wolfe, a senior aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to top-secret information — is now part of a federal investigation that has rattled the world of Washington journalists and the sources they rely on.

Celebration and pride mixed with defiance in New York City as throngs of people crowded the streets, rainbow flags waving, for the annual gay pride march.

For Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, both of whom bring formidable résumés to voters in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community this fall, the parade offered a stage for the Democratic primary. They marched, but it’s not clear that anyone noticed them in a political sense.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s daughter, Alison, will be marrying another woman, Elizabeth Weiland, in November, the senator announced during NYC’s Gay Pride Parade.

The state’s first official monument to the LGBT community, honoring victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, was unveiled in Hudson River Park in the West Village.

A “torrent of tips” was generated by the NYPD’s call for assistance in identifying the men shown on video last week dragging a 15-year-old boy, Lesandro Guzman–Feliz, out of a Bronx bodega and stabbing him to death in a gruesome attack that may have been a case of mistaken identity.

The police announced the arrest of a suspect, Kevin J. Alvarez, 19, of the Bronx, on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, gang assault and assault, though authorities would not say which person he was in the surveillance video showing the attack on Guzman-Feliz.

In total, five members of the deadly Dominican gang Trinitarios have been arrested for allegedly hacking Guzman-Feliz with knives and a machete and leaving him on the sidewalk to die.

Cops are investigating a second gang attack in the Bronx that is eerily similar to the mistaken-identity slaying Guzman-Feliz, which left a 14-year-old boy in critical condition with multiple stab wounds.

Leecia Eve, one of four Democratic candidates running for state attorney general, has begun staffing up by dipping into her ties to Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, and has hired as her campaign manager her brother, Ichor Strategies founder Eric Eve.

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