The Weekend That Was

Rep. Justin Amash, an iconoclastic Republican of Michigan who has considered a run against President Trump in 2020, became the first member of his party serving in Congress to publicly suggest that the president’s conduct had reached the “threshold of impeachment.”

Trump responded by calling Amash a “total lightweight” who is causing controversy solely for “the sake of getting his name out there.”

The Trump administration has warned Congress that the flow of unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border has increased even further than it anticipated just a few weeks ago and may require an additional $1.4 billion to provide housing and care.

Well-wired Democrats say the massive 2020 primary field means that the nominee may still be unclear when Democrats head to Milwaukee for their mid-July convention.

Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger was attacked on Saturday by a man who kicked him in the back at a sports event in South Africa that the action hero was hosting.

Responding to a series of highly restrictive abortion laws aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade, several Democratic presidential candidates have called on Congress to codify abortion rights, signaling a newly aggressive approach in a debate whose terms have long been set by conservatives.

The series of abortion restrictions recently passed by states may appear to present a united front and a coordinated political campaign. Instead they reflect a sustained effort by a network of disparate activists, each with their own strategy honed over decades of work.

Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal told reporters “you can’t say you’re a Democrat…if you’re against abortion.” Jayapal, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reportedly called for “strong primary challenges” against candidates who weren’t as bold on that issue.

Boeing has reportedly admitted for the first time that there was a flaw in its 737 MAX flight simulators.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president “is doing the right thing” by ignoring congressional subpoenas.

Commencement speaker and billionaire Robert F. Smith announced he will donate an estimated $40 million to pay off the student debt for the 400 students graduating at the historically black, all-male Morehouse College.

Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic 2020 contender, said that she would end the detention of immigrants if elected to the White House.

Steve Wynn, the billionaire former casino mogul who resigned as chairman of Wynn Resorts and as finance chairman of the RNC last year after The Wall Street Journal revealed allegations of sexual assault and harassment spanning decades, has recently donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the committee.

Porn actress Stormy Daniels has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit that accused her former lawyer of colluding with Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to have her deny having an affair with Trump.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says “no one really respects” ex-FBI director James Comey “or wants to hear from him.”

Crooked college consultant William “Rick” Singer reportedly advised some of his rich white clients to pretend their kids were “minorities” in order to gain entry to elite universities.

Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to Pennsylvania, the state of his birth, on Saturday to deliver a forceful call for national unity, looking past the Democratic presidential primary to directly appeal to the voters who helped power Trump’s victory in this state and across the country in 2016.

Trump has requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed to pardon several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes — including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse — indicating that he is considering pardons for the men on or around Memorial Day.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio once said Democrats would have the best shot at taking back the White House if they ignored Trump. Now that he’s officially running himself, he seems to have had a change of heart.

De Blasio acknowledged that he may not qualify for the first presidential debate next month – by raising contributions from 65,000 individual donors – but argued it isn’t a sign about his overall chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

Last month, de Blasio gave the city’s Board of Elections the opportunity to open 100 poll sites for early voting and get $75 million, but the board has not jumped at the offer, so far selecting only 38 early poll sites across the city.

The mayor’s presidential dreams had better not make him too neglectful of his day job — or he could lose it, under a never-used clause in the NYC charter.

De Blasio got thrown his first curveball in the early days of his quixotic presidential campaign Saturday as a prominent South Carolina Democratic activist urged him not to battle Trump in the gutter.

The mayor attacked Trump for allegedly violating a federal law banning the use of government resources in politics — even though de Blasio filmed his own campaign announcement inside Gracie Mansion.

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal had warned that if the Treasury Department did not comply with a 5 p.m. deadline today to hand over President Trump’s tax returns, he’d likely to sue the department “as quickly as next week.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded this afternoon that the department would not be turning over the returns to the committee.

The Missouri House passed restrictive abortion bill prohibiting abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, though many women often don’t know they’re pregnant in that time. The bill includes exceptions for medical emergencies but not for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an OpEd that he’s unimpressed with Joe Biden’s chances of capturing the Democratic presidential nomination, let alone of winning in a matchup against President Trump.

Trump renewed his attacks on House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in a tweet that suggested that Hillary Clinton’s missing emails were still getting under his skin.

Amid a new round of tariff battles between the U.S. and China on each other’s exports, China has recalled two cute giant pandas from the San Diego Zoo in California.

Mnuchin won more than $200,000 in a lawsuit against a private-jet company after he claimed the company broke an agreement to reimburse him after he terminated his membership.

In a major education policy speech set to be delivered tomorrow, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will call for a ban on all for-profit charter schools, a position that puts him directly at odds with the Trump administration and becoming the first of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to insist on such a move.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose 2020 campaign is lagging, is now reorganizing her online operations and trying to turn around her political and financial fortunes with her high-profile criticism of the new laws in Georgia, Alabama and other states that drastically restrict abortions.

Ulysees Wingo, a Buffalo Common Council member, has been barred from stepping foot on Buffalo Public School property after bringing a gun inside a high school earlier this week, district officials said.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stepped away from the criticism in his hometown to engage curiosity in Iowa, making his first stop as a presidential candidate in the middle of farm country to demonstrate his interest in agricultural issues and take shots at Trump.

De Blasio’s first stop was an ethanol plant in Gowrie, a town of about 1,000.

De Blasio said he’s not ready to release policy proposals for his 2020 presidential bid, even though he’s been toying with the idea of a White House run for five months.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Franke, a law firm to which de Blasio owes more than $300,000 in unpaid legal bills, has targeted the mayor’s office – and even the mayor himself – to lobby for clients that include Disney.

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed pay records for a retired Long Island Rail Road worker who earned more money than anyone else at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last year, as well as the records of more than a dozen other MTA employees.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy, chair of the Transportation Committee, said he’s blocking legislation aimed at outlawing pedestrians who text while walking across the street.

The northeastern U.S.’s largest supplier of natural gas stopped processing new customer applications in New York City and Long Island after the Cuomo administration blocked a major pipeline project.

The MTA would be forced to install elevators at any subway station undergoing a closure or renovation of at least six months under a new state bill.

The meetings of the secret master-slave society started by NXIVM leader Keith Raniere occurred three times a week. They began with all the women stripping naked. Then they posed for a picture to be sent to him.

The Cayuga Power Plant in Lansing will end its coal operations and reopen as a data storage center if all goes according to company plans.

The time off for voting law approved by the Legislature earlier this year is a problem for schools.

RIP, Grumpy Cat.

Two Prisons, One Upstate, One In New York City, Will Close

State corrections officials on Friday announced two prisons will close in Manhattan and Livingston County within the next 90 days following an official review and authorization in the newly adopted state budget.

Livingston Correctional Facility in Livingston County and Lincoln Correctional Facility in New York City will both close, which currently house a combined 939 inmates. Lincoln, the smaller facility, has a staff of 113 people. Livingston Correctional Facility employs 327 people.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in a statement said those workers would be transitioned to different jobs, facilities or other state agencies.

Lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to the prison closures amid a decline in the overall inmate population.

“These closures are a result of the Governor’s successful progressive criminal justice reforms that have led to a historic decrease in crime, including both violent and property offenses, as well as individuals incarcerated in New York State prisons,” said DOCCS spokesman Thomas Mailey.

“In 2017, reported crime reached an all-time low since statewide reporting began in 1975. Preliminary data for 2018 shows that crime continued to decline for the sixth consecutive year and will mark yet another historic low. This has cemented New York’s position as the safest large state in the nation.‎”

The population at state prisons in the last 20 years has decreased by more than 26,000 inmates, a 35.8 percent drop.

The union that represents corrections officers earlier this year blasted the plan to close prisons, saying the state should instead focus on staffing levels, especially in facilities that house violent inmates.

Krueger Urges DOH To Develop Max Levels For PFOA, PFOS

A letter released Friday by Sen. Liz Krueger to the state Department of Health urged Commissioner Howard Zucker to move forward with the development of maximum contaminant levels for PFOA, PFOS and 1,4 dioxane.

Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan who is chairwoman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, wrote the state “cannot wait any longer to have their drinking water protected from these dangerous chemicals.”

Communities in parts of upstate New York — including Petersburgh, Hoosick Falls and Newburgh — have grappled with water contamination problems in recent years involving the chemicals.

A drinking water quality panel last year announced recommendations for maximum contaminant levels in December.

Six months later, Krueger said she is concerned about the delay in formalizing the levels.

“Although the recommended levels were not as low as I and many others had advocated, the way is now clear for the Department to move forward with the rulemaking process,” she wrote in the level. “I was assured by your staff in November that that process would be well underway by the beginning of this year, but that is clearly not the case.”

Krueger also reiterated that her preferred contamination level caps should be maxed out at 4 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, and 0.3 parts per billion for 1,4-dioxane. She also called for statewide testing of emerging contaminants.

“In 2017, the Legislature instructed the Department to create a list of chemicals of concern for testing in all communities, regardless of size,” she wrote. “Yet New Yorkers still lack this critical drinking water protection.”

May 2019 Letter to Com. Zucker Regarding MCLs by Nick Reisman on Scribd

With Friends Like These…

Attorney General Letitia James in a live interview with the liberal podcast Pod Save America did not mince words when asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s run for the presidency.

“Listen, we need a mayor who is going to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said to cheers in front of a live audience.

James, the former public advocate in New York City who had been an ally of de Blasio’s listed a series of policy issues where she believes the mayor has fallen short.

“So I ask the question: Has the crisis in affordable housing been addressed? No,” she said. “Has income inequality been addressed? No. Equal pay for equal work? No. How about cyclists who are unfortunately dying on our streets as the result of crashes? No. So what is the legacy? What are you running on? Has school segregation been addressed? Listen, he can run, he’s the 23rd candidate, I understand that. But the question is why? Por que? Like what’s up?

With a pause and a head tilt, James added, “But he’s a friend.”

The comments made in the interview were similar to what she told NY1 on Thursday as de Blasio launched his campaign.

“Serving as mayor of the City of New York is the second toughest job in our nation and New Yorkers require a mayor who is laser focused on the issues affecting our city,” she said. “I think it’s an issue that he should think about while he’s in Ohio.”

James last year was the victor in a crowded Democratic primary field for attorney general, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at odds with the mayor over the years. De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, endorsed James’s primary rival Zephyr Teachout.

Jacobs on NY-27 Campaign: ‘We Need Someone That’s Able To Be Fully Effective’

There is still 18 months until the 2020 congressional elections, but state Senator Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo, is getting an early start on his campaign for New York’s 27th District.

Jacobs said he is currently putting together an organizational structure, has hired a consultant and opened a campaign account.

“We want to make sure that this seat is held in Republican hands for the next term and the foreseeable future,” he said.

Jacobs said he expressed interest in the position last fall when incumbent Rep. Chris Collins briefly suspended his campaign after being indicted on federal insider trading charges. Collins ultimately decided to run and won a narrow contest against Democrat Nate McMurray, but Jacobs said the position has been on his mind since.

“I always had hoped there was an opportunity to serve in the Congress,” he said. “My first job out of college was working for former Congressman Jack Kemp down in Washington D.C. and the thought of representing this area in Washington would be just such a great honor.”

Collins has not decided yet whether he’ll run for re-election again in 2020. His trial is scheduled for February.

Regardless, he was critical of Jacobs on Friday.

“While I haven’t made a final decision on running for re-election, the last thing we need in this seat is a never-Trump Republican who supports abortion rights and has supported savings plans and taxpayers funded legal aid for illegal immigrants,” he said in a statement. “That would be the same as electing a Democrat.  I ran for re-election to assure that President Trump had an ally in this seat.  The President can count on me to assure he has an ally in 2020.”

Jacobs said he is prepared to face the incumbent in a primary, if necessary.

“I am not trying to be disrespectful to Chris Collins. I just believe that we need someone that’s able to be fully effective in that seat and unfortunately, due to the legal problems he is dealing with right now and will be dealing with through next year, he’s not able to serve in committees right now, he’s done good things for the district in the past but I don’t think he can moving forward.”

Even if Collins decides not to run, Jacobs said he’s fully expecting a primary against other Republicans for the seat.

“This is a congressional seat. There’s not many of them in the area. I think there will be others interested and I believe campaigns are good. I believe primaries are good.”

That could be Collins ally and current Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who also put his name in the ring last summer and has been canvassing the district since. Mychajliw said Friday, he would make his decision on his own timeline but echoed the congressman’s criticisms of Jacobs.

“Chris Jacobs is an Albany moderate, pro-abortion, pro-illegal immigrant moderate whose values are the exact opposite of President Trump’s and the voters of NY-27,” he said.

Jacobs pointed out he voted against the “abortion expansion” bill and the DREAM Act in the state legislature. He has been reluctant in the past to discuss who he voted for president in 2016.

He said he is willing to have the debate with any takers but believes his voting record will resonate in the district.

“It’s understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins’ legal predicament, but let’s not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th congressional district well before his indictment last August, and never stopped. When others were silent, we were fearless,” McMurray said in a statement. “I think it’s unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now; and the voters here confirmed that last November by re-electing Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business as usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together.”

Columbia County Moves To Opt Out Of Marijuana Business

Columbia County this week became the latest county to announce plans to not allow the retail marijuana industry in New York if a legalization bill is approved by state lawmakers.

The county joins larger counties to its south — including Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland and Putnam — in opting out.

“Columbia County’s leaders get it. Commercial pot isn’t a boon for tax revenue or those seeking social justice,” said Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor in President Barack Obama’s administration and the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York, a group that opposes marijuana legalization.

“It just creates another predatory industry that will victimize communities to enrich Big Tobacco, Pharma and the alcohol industries. We applaud the county’s leaders for listening to the serious public health and safety concerns being raised by parents, doctors, addiction professionals and local community leaders. Commercial pot in New York will also have dramatic fiscal impacts on county and town governments who will bear the brunt of cost increases for law enforcement, social services and public health programs that will be passed along to local taxpayers.”

Lawmakers this week announced a revised bill that in part backs what Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed earlier this year with the creation of a unified cannabis management office to regulate retail and medical marijuana as well as hemp production.

NY-18: Stefanik Endorses Farley

Rep. Elise Stefanik on Friday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Chele Chiavacci Farley for the nomination in a Hudson Valley House district.

Farley is running for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who was re-elected last year to a third term in what has been in prior election cycles a closely watched battleground district.

“Chele Farley brings intelligence, energy, and determination to her race for Congress. Her real-world business experience will be an asset in Congress as she fights to protect tax dollars for hardworking families, fully fund our military, take care of our military families, and address the state’s crumbling infrastructure,” Stefanik said. “I have made it my top priority to help elect more Republican women to Congress and I’m proud to endorse Chele. I know she will serve the people of the Hudson Valley well.”

Stefanik was first elected as the youngest woman to a North Country House seat in 2014. Farley last year ran against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I am honored to have the backing of Elise Stefanik in this race. Elise is a leader for our state and the Republican Party in Congress,” Farley said. “I look forward to working with her to win and serving with her to fight back against the wave of socialism that has taken over Washington.”

State Senator Chris Jacobs Is Running For New York’s 27th Congressional Seat

Republican state Senator Chris Jacobs is running for New York’s 27th Congressional District in 2020.

His congressional campaign manager confirmed a Buffalo News report Thursday morning. The seat is currently held by Republican Chris Collins, who is facing federal insider trading charges.

“It’s very important to put someone in that seat who is a strong advocate for the district,” Jacobs told the News. “Currently, I don’t believe he has the capacity to be effective because of the situation.”

Jacobs indicated he would primary Collins if necessary. The incumbent, whose trial is scheduled for February 2020, has said he has not decided yet whether he’ll run again.

In 2018, following the indictment, he briefly suspended his campaign and Republicans in the district were scouting a replacement. Jacobs was one of a stable of potential Republicans in consideration.

Ultimately, Collins unsuspended his campaign, at the advice of his attorneys and the disappointment of GOP leadership. He beat Democrat Nate McMurray by less than half a percentage point in the fall.

McMurray has not officially announced he will run again either, although he vowed a rematch of Collins is the candidate and is already fundraising.

Senate Transportation Chair Won’t Move ‘Distracted Walking’ Bill Forward

From the Morning Memo:

A proposed “distracted walking bill” is gaining attention across the state, but its chance of becoming law appears very slim.

State Senator John Liu, D-Queens, is sponsoring legislation that would ban people from using electronic devices, like cell phones, while crossing the street.

The bill is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee and the committee’s chair said it is not going anywhere.

“It will stay there,” state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said. “As the chair of Transportation, this is under the auspices of my committee and I control what comes to the floor of my committee for a vote. This is something that will not be seeing the light of day.”

Kennedy called the proposal, which would institute fines for those who text while crossing, an overreach. While it’s his first year as committee chair, he said during his tenure in the Legislature, he has never heard of the issue as a major problem that needed to be addressed.

“I think it goes to far,” he said. “I think it gets right into someone’s rights and freedoms as a person and a pedestrian. I think it infringes on many different rights and I would not be supportive of it.”

The Western New York Democrat acknowledged “distracted walking” may be a bigger issue in New York City than his area, but he said without a major push from the voting public, he has no plans to change his mind about stopping the bill.