Liz Benjamin

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President Donald Trump got conflicting advice today from Republican senators over whether he should go ahead and declare a national emergency as he’s said he “probably” would do to get funding for his proposed border wall.

Trump backed away from his threat to declare a national emergency to build the border wall one day after he said he would probably do so, saying today that he’s “not looking” to take such action right now.

The Transportation Security Administration plans to begin closing a handful of security checkpoints at airports around the U.S. as soon as this weekend in response to staff shortages triggered by a partial federal government shutdown now in its third week.

White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier, perhaps under an emergency declaration.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his campaign will be self-funded if he runs for president in 2020.

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Mary Boone, the veteran art dealer, be sent to prison for as much as three years, saying she deliberately defrauded the government by filing false tax returns and evading $3 million in taxes.

Veterans of the Democratic establishment, unsettled by Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lack of deference to seniority and party unity, have cautioned the freshman lawmaker to direct her potent social-media attacks toward Republicans rather than centrist Democrats.

Former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman said he hopes Ocasio-Cortez is “not the future” of the party — prompting the Democratic progressive darling to slap back: “New party, who dis?”

A fellow New Yorker, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, of Brooklyn, who shares Puerto Rican roots with Ocasio-Cortez, is playing a key role in trying to bring the new congresswoman into the Democratic fold.

Bill Hammond: “New York is closer to achieving universal access to decent health-care than is commonly understood. And the state, like the city, could close the remaining gaps without anything close to the massive expense and disruption that a Medicare for All-style single-payer system would entail.”

If U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announces a 2020 run for president, she will likely be operating her campaign from the Frear Building in downtown Troy.

Gillibrand has hired several senior aides for an expected presidential campaign, a sign that she is all but certain to join the race against Trump and that her entry may be imminent.

Gillibrand’s new hires reportedly include Dan McNally, her campaign director; Meredith Kelly, the communications director; and Emmy Bengtson, the deputy communications director, who will lead the digital operation.

New York State returned over $35 million in stolen wages to nearly 36,000 workers throughout the state in 2018 — part of an effort by the state to curb employers from unlawfully withholding wages from employees, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

State lawmakers haven’t even introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, but a California company is already fielding a plan for a $200 million pot-growing farm on part of Buffalo’s waterfront.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to finally have found a friend in the Trump administration — federal housing chief Ben Carson.

De Blasio, who’s positioning himself as a national progressive leader, came up with a new rationale for supporting the nearly $3 billion in subsidies to lure Amazon to Long Island City: It’ll help pay for his $100 million expansion of health care to the needy.

Weekend Unlimited Inc. said that a New York City event celebrating Cuomo’s pledge to work for the legalization of recreational marijuana featured a DJ set by the rapper Snoop Dogg.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group opposing a further increase proposed for tipped workers, said 47 percent of full-service restaurants that responded are planning to eliminate jobs this year because of the state-mandated wage increase. That is a jump from 36 percent in the previous year’s survey.

Insurance companies used to be able to consider New York state drivers’ occupation and level of education when setting auto insurance rates. No longer.

A state ethics panel rebuked a Bronx judge who urged a cop to “let it slide” after she rear-ended a police van.

The U.S. Episcopal Church, responding to the Albany bishop’s continued ban on gay marriage despite national approval, has issued a “Partial Restriction on Ministry” prohibiting him from penalizing anyone for participating in same-sex rites while his conduct is further examined by the church.


In remarks to reporters as he headed to the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump left open the possibility of declaring a state of emergency, which could allow him to bypass Congress to fund the wall.

Flanked by Border Patrol officers, as well as Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, and a cache of drugs, cash and weapons seized by the authorities at the border, Trump again blamed the protracted shutdown affecting vast swaths of the federal government on Democrats.

The Pentagon is preparing options to build barriers on the southern border in the event that Trump declares a national emergency there, the latest indication such a move is gaining traction within the administration.

As the government shutdown drags on, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is having discussions with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle about a potential l”DACA for the wall” deal.

Vice President Pence vowed that Trump would not back any deal to reopen the government without money for his proposed border wall, a sign the government shutdown will likely be headed into its fourth week this weekend. “Walls work,” Pence said. “It’s not a debatable point.”

Trump, who has himself been divorced twice, wished Jeff Bezos “luck” on his divorce.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who implicated him in a scheme to pay hush money to two women claiming to have had affairs with him, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 and give “a full and credible account” of his work for the president.

The pair of outside groups tied closely to Trump has retained the top Republican opposition group in an effort to smother Democrats seeking to challenge him — and perhaps even help pick his 2020 challenger.

Some Transportation Security Administration employees are quitting their jobs as the partial government shutdown continues through its third week, leaving more than 800,000 federal employees without a paycheck, the union that represents them maintains.

In his annual State of the City speech, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio offered progressive promises – including a redistribution of wealth, even as he has thus far been unsuccessful in his many attempts to raise taxes on high earners – and a new ferry to Staten Island.

“Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in this city,” de Blasio said. “It’s just in the wrong hands.”

Brooklyn state Sen. Kevin Parker officially assumed a powerful new role as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and also is potentially setting himself up as a private consultant – he says for clients outside New York.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery have reached agreement on a plan that will give the federal agency access to the limousine involved in the crash that killed 20 people on Oct. 6.

In its first major act designed to show partisan unity in the state Legislature, the Democratic-run Senate and Assembly on Monday will pass a multi-bill package designed to improve New York State’s voter participation rates.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was fined $1,500 by the state last year for failing to obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is looking at basing a potential 2020 presidential campaign in Troy, New York, a small upstate city on the banks of the Hudson River, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a full apology after reports surfaced of another former staffer from his 2016 campaign accusing a top aide of sexual assault.

El Museo del Barrio in Harlem, the country’s oldest museum devoted to Latino art, announced that it was rescinding a decision to honor a princess from Germany known for her connections to archconservatives who complained that Pope Francis is too liberal at its upcoming 50th anniversary gala.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will establish a county task force dedicated to study the possible ramifications of statewide legalization of recreational marijuana, a measure supported by the governor.

Peter Breitnauer, a 34-year veteran of the Kenmore Police Department, the last six as police chief, stood in front of a federal judge and admitted he stole painkillers from a community drop box.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is already a composer, a lyricist, an actor and an author. Now he’s going to be a bookseller.

Here and Now

It’s Day 20 of the federal government shutdown. President Trump will visit the border in McAllen, Tex., leaving little hope of a resolution for a shutdown that will tie the longest in the nation’s history tomorrow.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City with no public events or appearances or interviews scheduled as of yet.

At 10:30 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announce a partnership with Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods, Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters, 30 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank.

At 11 a.m, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his sixth State of the City address, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., New Yorkers with developmental disabilities and their family members rally to urge Cuomo and legislators to fund a living wage for direct support professionals, War Room, second floor, state Capitol, Albany. (There will also be another rally in Poughkeepsie, 260 Mill St., from 10:30 a.m. to noon).

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, state Sen. Tim Kennedy and Rep. Antonio Delgado, WCNY.

At 12:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at a rally to combat gun violence, Half Hollow Hills High School, 50 Vanderbilt Parkway, Dix Hills.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., NYC Councilman Peter Koo, Assemblyman Clyde Vanel and others attend the opening of New York City’s first public-private blockchain center, 54 W. 21st St., 10th floor, Manhattan.


President Trump treated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to M&M’s, Skittles, Butterfingers and Baby Ruths during their meeting over the ongoing government shutdown, before, according to Schumer, storming out of the meeting during a “temper tantrum.”

When the meeting was over, talks to reopen the government appeared to be in disarray.

“Just left a meeting with Chuck (Schumer) and Nancy, a total waste of time,” Trump tweeted minutes after the blown-up sit-down. “I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier?”

As the country nears the end of its third week of a government shutdown, the consequences of Washington’s political dysfunction are landing right on the city’s doorstep, with businesses suffering from a marked lack of customers.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the most visible Justice Department protector of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and a frequent target of Trump’s wrath, is expected to leave his position soon after Trump’s nominee for attorney general is confirmed.

The U.S. Coast Guard offered its employees a set of clueless tips on how to deal with the crippling government shutdown that has cut off their paychecks, suggesting they walk dogs, throw garage sales or enlist as “mystery” shoppers.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‏slammed right-wing media sites for publishing a “fake nude photo” that some claimed showed the freshman congresswoman in a bathtub.

Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, made history when she became the first woman and first black woman to lead a legislative house in New York’s Capitol.

It only took 242 years for the Senate to elect a woman majority leader.

“When you think about it, not that long ago, women weren’t even allowed to walk on the floor of this chamber,” Stewart-Cousins said shortly after figuratively taking the Senate gavel around 1:30 p.m on the opening day of the state legislature’s 2019 session. “I stand here the first woman leader of a legislative house in state history. And if we do this right, I cannot and will not be the last.”

Not only did Stewart-Cousins break the glass ceiling to become the state’s first female majority conference leader, but she was sworn in by the female state chief judge, Janet DiFiore, while Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who serves as Senate president, presided from the rostrum.

Her elevation to the powerful post means she will have a permanent seat at Albany’s negotiating table, marking the first time a woman has broken through the state Capitol’s infamous “three men in a room” culture — in which the governor, Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker hash out budgets and major legislation behind closed doors.

Stewart-Cousins laid out her agenda for the session, and it included a permanent cap on property taxes – which the governor also wants, but the Assembly Democrats apparently do not – and vetting state government contracts.

The session began with a recommitment from Cuomo and the leaders of both legislative chambers to change the statute of limitations for cases of child sex abuse and pass comprehensive criminal justice reform this year.

Cuomo said changes to state law are needed to prevent another tragedy like the Oct. 6 limousine crash in Schoharie County that killed 20 people.

The governor made an awkward “MeToo” movement joke while speaking to reporters at the state Capitol. Comedian Kathy Griffin didn’t find it funny.

“Space, we need space,” Cuomo had said to reporters who jockeyed to get in questions about the new legislative session. “I’ll bring you up on charges under the Me Too movement.”

Senate Democrats got to flex the power of their majority with the adoption of new operating rules for the chamber. Republicans were not at all happy.

Only months ago a major player who controlled which party had the majority in the state Senate, Sen. Simcha Felder is now an island unto to himself. The Brooklyn Democrat who used to caucus with the GOP returned to Albany for the legislative session without a conference with which to sit.

Thanks to Ken Lovett of the NY Daily News, you can now use a cell phone in the Senate lobby.

Legislators in both houses are scheduled to vote on a flurry of bills meant to expand ballot access on the session’s second day.

More >


President Donald Trump abruptly walked out of a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, said she wouldn’t fund his border wall even if he ended the government shutdown.

Trump warned yet again that he reserved the option of declaring a national emergency to build his border wall without congressional approval.

Trump threatened to cut federal emergency funding for California’s firefighters in the middle of a partial government shutdown.

The federal government shutdown could take a toll on jury duty if the impasse stretches into Friday, officials said.

Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has crusaded for Trump’s impeachment, said he would not join the pack of Democrats running for president in 2020 and would instead redouble his efforts to topple Trump before the election.

With Democrats having retaken control of the upper chamber in Albany, good-government advocates are hopeful that the ethics committee will be reinvigorated by its new chairwoman, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a freshman who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a proposal to guarantee two weeks of paid time off for employees. If passed, the measure would impact an additional 500,000 people in the five boroughs.

The mandate would apply to private employers with five or more employees, and would make New York City the first city in the nation with such a requirement.

Longtime Queens District Attorney Richard Brown will not run for re-election in 2019, marking an end to his nearly three-decade tenure as the borough’s top prosecutor.

Brown’s decision raised the likelihood that the diverse and changing borough might elect a liberal prosecutor with a reform agenda, which would mark a sea change in local law enforcement. At least five Democratic challengers are expected to run.

Immediately after they made history by electing Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be the first women in New York history to serve as majority leader, Democrats adopted rules empowering the Ethics Committee to start approving bills touching on topics like ethics enforcement and sexual harassment.

Trump’s legal team told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president will not answer any more questions in the probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said.

A photo purporting to show Democratic Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s legs and feet soaking in a bathtub has been debunked — thanks to a group of online foot fetishists who determined the feet in question actually belong to ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting partner, Sydney Leathers.

WNY Republican Rep. Chis Collins formally requested that his paychecks be withheld during the partial government shutdown, and has cosponsored legislation that will ensure that the federal employees “who keep our communities and nation safe” are paid for their service as shutdown negotiations continue.

“Today” show weatherman Al Roker is defending Jeremy Kappell, a Rochester meteorologist who was fired after using a racial slur in reference to Martin Luther King Jr. on live TV.

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello says problems at the state level have caused DMV customers to be double charged. To prevent any errors, the local DMV has temporarily stopped accepting credit card payments.

De Blasio called video of NYPD cops using batons against two men in Upper Manhattan “really troubling,” and a police source said the incident could get at least one officer arrested.

Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, are getting a divorce, the Amazon founder and Washington Post owner announced.

Wegmans Food Markets is hiring for its first New York City store, which it plans to open this fall.

Michael Che, the comedian who co-hosts “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” grew up in a housing project on Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Now he’s betting that making people laugh can help fix the country’s largest housing system.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King resigned as part of a plea deal on postage-related larceny allegations.

The American Psychological Association has issued its first official warning against toxic masculinity.

Here and Now

It’s day 19 of the federal government shutdown, and Day One of the 2019 state legislative session in Albany.

The president said during his prime time Oval Office address last night that he has invited Democratic leaders back to the White House for more talks on how to potentially end the shutdown.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no announced public events or appearances as of yet.

At 7:50 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul is a guest on WBEN’s “A New Morning” with Susan Rose and Brian Mazurowski

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Education meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Finance meets, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., grassroots groups rally to call on Cuomo, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to support election reforms, Prime at the Plaza, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make an economic announcement, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker/Public Advocate Corey Johnson holds a pre-charter Council meeting press conference, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At noon, the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany. (Hochul will preside at 1 p.m.)

Also at noon, the NYC Council holds a stated meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli attends the swearing-in ceremony of Stewart-Cousins, Senate chamber, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., Johnson presides over a meeting of the NYC Council, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board meets, Riverstone Senior Life Services, 99 Fort Washington Ave., Manhattan.


President Trump argued during his prime-time speech last night that Democrats needed to back funding for his long-promised wall — but stopped short of declaring a national emergency over what he has called the “crisis” at the Mexican border.

Embarking on a strategy that he himself privately disparaged as unlikely to work, Trump devoted the first prime-time Oval Office address of his presidency to his proposed barrier in hopes of enlisting public support in an ideological and political conflict that has shut the doors of many federal agencies for 18 days.

Trump said he had invited congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the shutdown at the White House today. Three previous such meetings have proved unfruitful.

The NYT fact checked Trump’s speech, and found it contained a number of statements that were either misleading, lacking context or outright false.

More fact checking from Politico, which found “untruths and distortions” in the president’s speech, “most of which he’s uttered before.”

“Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the beginning of the televised response she and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave to the speech. “The president has chosen fear.”

Here are the full transcripts of both the president’s speech and the Democratic response.

The Internet had a lot to say about the joint Schumer and Pelosi appearance.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez trashed the commander in chief and his xenophobic rhetoric.

Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on her claim that Trump is an unabashed racist, listing off policies, business practices and comments made by the commander-in-chief to prove her point.

Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who outraged the White House when she called the president a “motherf–ker” who would be impeached, tweeted out the stories of a few of the roughly 800,000 federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown.

Nearly 173,000 food stamp recipients in the Buffalo metro area and millions more nationwide received a reprieve as the Trump administration announced that it will be able to fund their benefits through February. But other funding is at risk.

Trump’s Oval Office plea for a steel barrier at the southern border left New York Democrats — from the state’s two U.S. senators to Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo — aghast. But Republican Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed offered a far more positive spin on the speech.

Critics including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont highlighted the inaccuracies woven into the 11-minute address and urged Trump to reopen the government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a response to Trump’s prime-time speech, saying: “Americans know truth when they hear it. And they also know self-serving, aggrandizing false political rhetoric. Mr. President, re-open our government now.”

Nina Khrushcheva, whose great-grandfather, Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev, built the Berlin Wall, pans Trump’s push for a wall at the US-Mexico border.

President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway got into a verbal smackdown with White House nemesis Jim Acosta of CNN — calling him a “smart ass” when he asked her if Trump would be honest in his Oval Office speech on border security.

As a top official in Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing. The document provided the clearest evidence to date that the campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was “right in spirit” to call for higher taxes on the nation’s highest earners.

More >


President Trump’s first Oval Office address at 9 p.m. tonight is aimed at building public support for his signature campaign issue – his proposed border wall – and comes on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown over his demand that Democrats agree to billions of dollars to pay for it.

Trump is not expected to declare a national emergency that could empower him to move forward with construction without congressional consent.

Some White House insiders worry the wall is Trump’s “personal Alamo.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Trump got the “impression” that his predecessors wanted to build a wall after the president said his predecessors told him they should have erected a border barrier – something they all now say never occurred.

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who in 2016 met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower, was charged in a separate case that showed her close ties to the Kremlin.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to federal investigators about sharing campaign poll data with a Russian associate linked to Russian intelligence services, according to court papers filed today.

New York City will spend at least $100 million to ensure that undocumented immigrants and others who cannot qualify for insurance can receive medical treatment, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, seeking to insert a city policy into two contentious national debates.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ripped Max Boot for comparing her to former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, calling The Washington Post’s columnist’s piece “resentful.”

Here are five of the most pressing and vexing questions that loom in Albany as Democrats prepare to take full control of state government and the 2019 session kicks off tomorrow.

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is scheduled to go to trial on sex-crime charges May 6 in state court in Manhattan, court filings show.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat who has been implicated in a racially charged school segregation scandal, said he never hired a black staffer in his 25-year career as a lawmaker, court documents show.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants toblow up the MTA,” metaphorically speaking.

The governor says $10 million in capital funding is available to expand addiction treatment services in the state.

County governments are urging state lawmakers to fund school resource officers for all districts and to spare them from having to foot the bill if New York adopts a “cashless” bail system for non-violent felonies and all misdemeanor offenses.

The two sides in the criminal case against WNY Republican Rep. Chris Collins won’t meet in court again until September under a schedule laid out late yesterday by the judge presiding in the case.

Village of Lake George Mayor Robert Blais is making a personal appeal to Cuomo for more funding for the new wastewater treatment plant, saying village taxpayers cannot handle a big tax increase to pay off the bond for the project.

NYC school integration advocates are calling on city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to toss academic standards and other competitive screens used for admissions by dozens of public middle schools.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will travel from New York City to Washington , D.C. in the morning to meet with members of the New York congressional delegation and then travel to Albany in the evening. He has no public events planned as of yet.

T-minus one day before the 2019 state legislative session begins in Albany.

It’s the 18th day of the federal government shutdown, and President Trump will make his case for a border wall to the American people during a primetime televised address at 9 p.m. We will carry this live on Spectrum News.

At 8:30 a.m., the Crain’s Business breakfast forum features NYC Taxi & Limo Commissioner Meera Joshi, who will be stepping down in March after leading the commission since 2014, The New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park S., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

At 9:30 a.m., state Sen. David Carlucci will be sworn in at Jawonio, 260 N. Little Tor Rd., New City.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Nita Lowey and Westchester County Executive George Latimer hold a press event to discuss the impact of the government shutdown on airport security officers, Westchester County Airport, 240 Airport Road, Baggage Claim, White Plains.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Housing and Buildings meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano announces a plan to introduce new legislation that would target negligent landlords, 15 Mount Carmel Place, Yonkers.

Also at 11 a.m., de Blasio will make an announcement on healthcare in New York City, Lincoln Hospital, 234 E. 149th St., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone announces enhancements to the county’s winter weather preparedness efforts, Suffolk County DPW Yard Salt Barn, Crooked Hill Road, Commack.

At noon, a coalition of civic organizations and legislative sponsors call for passage of an anti-corruption constitutional amendment, third floor, outside of the Senate Chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, NYC public advocate candidate Rafael Espinal Jr. announces his environmental sustainability plan, Kingsland Wildflower Garden, 520 Kingsland Ave., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., the Assembly Minority Conference will host a Swearing-In ceremony for its nine newly-elected members, Hearing Room B, LOB, State Street, Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., Espinal Jr. and his NYC Council colleague, Peter Koo, rally in support of the Awnings Act with local businesses, 36-41 Union St., Queens.

At 2 p.m., Assemblymember Ron Kim, Sen. Toby Stavisky, their colleagues in both houses, and the Korean American Association of Greater New York and its president, Minsun Kim, announce the details of a resolution, Flushing Town Hall, front steps, 137-35 N. Blvd., Flushing, Queens.

At 7 p.m., state Attorney General Letitia James holds a thank you reception, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 279 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn.


President Trump is taking his case for the border wall directly to the American people in a prime-time address tonight, followed by a trip to the Mexican border Thursday.

After some deliberating, the four major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — said they will carry the address live at 9 p.m. EST from the Oval Office, providing Trump with a platform to pressure Democrats on a deal that would end a partial government shutdown that enters its 18th day today.

“Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” said Democratic congressional leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. They said that “if his past statements are any indication,” Trump’s address tonight “will be full of malice and misinformation.”

Vice President Mike Pence briefed reporters on the status of shutdown negotiations in a hastily arranged session, part of an orchestrated effort to sway balking Democrats who say the government should reopen while they wrangle over Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to begin his border wall.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are vowing to block legislation that is unrelated to re-opening the government until the Senate’s top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, agrees to call House-passed appropriations measures to the Senate floor for a vote.

In advance of tonight’s speech, White House lawyers are weighing whether it’s legal for Trump to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and spend taxpayer dollars on constructing his long-promised border wall.

Presidential emergency powers, explained.

All four living ex-presidents have publicly rebuffed Trump’s claim that they privately gushed about the need for a massive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The impact of a partial government shutdown began to ripple across the economy as it stretched into Day 17, with mortgage applications delayed, public companies unable to get approval to raise capital and thousands of Secret Service agents expected to show up for work without pay. More here.

In a short but fiery hearing involving Robert Mueller’s special counsel team, a federal judge admonished an attorney representing a Russian firm, calling his behavior “unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective.”

A Trump administration official says income tax refunds for 2018 will go out on time during the partial government shutdown because rules will be changed to make funding available to pay them.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in calling for codifying abortion rights in New York state law as a bulwark against any potential court challenges to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision made 46 years ago this month.

“No sane administration would go near Roe v. Wade,” Cuomo told a crowd of a few hundred supporters and dignitaries at Barnard College, referencing the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized the procedure.

Cuomo called for including abortion rights in the New York Constitution, calling it an unprecedented opportunity to protect a woman’s right to choose. He vowed not to sign the state budget unless the RHA is passed.

This isn’t new, but the pageantry of the occasion seemed to reflect the circumstances that had prompted it: a Legislature newly controlled by Democrats raring to broaden reproductive rights, and a federal government increasingly looking to rein them in, all against the backdrop of a state with abortion laws that are not as liberal as many perceive them to be.

A constitutional change requires two separately elected sessions of the state Legislature to approve an amendment before a statewide referendum is held. If first passage by the Assembly and Senate occurred this year, the earliest voters would consider an abortion amendment would be the fall of 2021.

If there is something unavoidable when Democrats control the government, as any Democratic official will say, it is the prospect for some political wildfire, some internecine warfare, to erupt at a moment’s notice that could lead to setbacks in Albany during what Cuomo has already predicted will be a “historic” 2019 session.

Clinton has spoken privately with several Democrats eyeing the presidency in 2020, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris, of California, and launched a not-so-subtle defense after media stories questioned whether female candidates are “likable” enough to win the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden’s younger brother unloaded on Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign — saying his sibling would have won Pennsylvania, would have campaigned aggressively in Michigan and would not have insulted voters as “deplorables.” Inc. surpassed Microsoft Corp. to become the world’s largest public company, in the latest example of the list of Wall Street’s biggest names being reordered.

NY-19 Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado, whose career as a rapper more than a decade ago became an issue in his election campaign last year, had the last word as he settled into his Capitol Hill office, framing an image of his own lyrics for his new workplace.

More >


President Trump wants to address the nation about the government shutdown tomorrow night, and later in the week plans to travel to the southern border as part of his effort to persuade Americans of the need for a border wall — the sticking point in negotiations with Democrats who are eager to reopen shuttered agencies.

Trump will visit the southern border on Thursday “to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis,” according to a tweet from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Lawyers for actor Kevin Spacey entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in Massachusetts court on charges he groped an 18-year-old busboy in 2016.

Talk of whether or not the U.S. is prepared to elect women leaders “takes me back,” 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told an audience in New York, praising the resolve of that state’s female elected officials for getting legislation passed to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Airport security workers around the country are opting to call in sick rather than work without pay, widening the ripple effects of the partial government shutdown to include travelers and everyday Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is missing arguments for the first time in more than 25 years as she recuperates from cancer surgery last month.

Former President Obama called for “new blood” in political leadership during a speech over the weekend in Hawaii.

The White House may try to block portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report from being shared with Congress and the public in a fight that could end up before the Supreme Court.

From the sinking city of Venice to the mass bleaching of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, climate change is drastically impacting some of the world’s most treasured heritage sites.

EJ McMahon: “The prospect of a 70 percent top federal income tax rate, as floated by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a TV interview, seems to have struck a nerve across the political spectrum. But left or right, Democrat or Republican, politicians in her home state should recognize New York has a lot to lose from dramatically jacked-up federal taxes on higher earners.”

Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, unexpectedly announced he is resigning at the end of January.

Assembly members Deborah Glick, Peter Abbate Jr. and Fred Thiele have put in for their pensions as they are seated for another term in the state Legislature – the latest in a long line of pension double dippers in state government.

The Buffalo Diocese has added the names of two priests to its list of clergy that it says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The total now stands at 80.

Two city council members from Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, visited New York City to deliver a cautionary message about the company’s plans for expansion, urging officials to pass legislation that will address potential housing and transportation issues

Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, are slated to report to federal prison tomorrow to begin serving their 4-year sentences for using Dean’s powerful perch in state government to shake down businesses for $300,000 in jobs and fees for Adam.

A television meteorologist is out of a job one day after Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott called for his firing for making a racial slur during a broadcast.

Utica Police are investigating a shooting death on Lincoln Avenue involving an off-duty Albany police officer.

The NYC Council plans to introduce legislation this week to allow politicians and their staffers to set up legal defense funds — accounts that collect contributions for lawyers’ fees that are not paid by taxpayers or personal wealth.

Matt Beadnell was sworn in today as Onondaga County comptroller, saying he looks forward to “hitting the ground running” in his new position.

Here and Now

Programming note: Capital Tonight moves to its new time – 7 p.m. – this evening. Please joins us for all the news, analysis and commentary you have come to know and love if you are in our viewing area.

It’s week 3 of the federal government shutdown, with no end in sight.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. At 11 a.m., he’ll make an announcement with Hillary Clinton on “reproductive justice” in New York. They’ll be joined by members of the Legislature and women’s rights advocates, Barnard College, The Diana Center, 3009 Broadway, Manhattan.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have lunch today in the private dining room at the White House.

At 8:30 a.m., U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer attends the Association for a Better New York’s Power Breakfast, Roosevelt Hotel, 45 E. 45th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte joins elected officials and legal organizations at a press conference to protest the termination of the Haiti’s temporary protected status, near Tillary Street and Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Seattle City Council members, economic development experts, Amazon fulfillment center workers and New York elected officials discuss the impacts of Amazon’s new office in New York City, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, 370 Seventh Ave., fifth floor, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., state Sen. Todd Kaminsky hosts a roundtable of law enforcement, traffic safety experts and state senators to discuss the impact of recreational marijuana on road safety, Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave, Rockville Centre.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Tourism Council co-host the media preview for the eighth annual Savor The Bronx restaurant week, Beatstro, 135 Alexander Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, grassroots groups and local leaders call on Cuomo and local officials to prove their commitment by quickly passing comprehensive election reform legislation, War Room, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Barbot will deliver remarks on NYC’s new law banning tobacco sales at pharmacies, Greeley Square Park, Broadway between W. 32nd and W. 33rd streets, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul discusses the 2019 legislative session and New York Women’s Agenda at a Downtown Women for Change event, Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow St., Manhattan.


President Trump remained steadfast in his demand for a wall between the United States and Mexico, characterizing it as a “battle” that his administration has to win because it defines “who we are” as a country.

The president said his administration is pushing for a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall along the southern border, calling it a “good solution” amid a partial government shutdown centered on discussions over funding for the structure.

Trump’s evolving definition of a border wall animated negotiations to end a partial government shutdown, while House Democrats moved to increase pressure on him by vowing to pass individual bills to reopen targeted departments that handle critical functions like tax refunds and food stamps.

Former VP Joe Biden is reportedly in the final stages of deciding whether to run for president and has told allies he is skeptical the other Democrats can defeat Trump – an assessment that foreshadows a clash between the veteran Washington insider and the more liberal, younger contenders for the party’s 2020 nomination.

Biden brushed off Trump’s claim other presidents wanted to build a wall, saying “come on,” and: “I can’t think of a single one who said that.”

An American airstrike in Yemen last week killed one of the suspected plotters of the deadly Qaeda bombing of the United States Navy destroyer Cole in 2000, Trump and military officials confirmed.

The editorial board for The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, a newspaper in Vermont, is urging Sen. Bernie Sanders not to run for president in 2020.

Queens Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on national TV that there is “no question” Trump is a racist.

“The president certainly didn’t invent racism,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But he’s certainly given a voice to it and expanded it and created a platform for those things.”

Paul Krugman: “What does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know about tax policy? A lot.”

GOP Long Island Rep. Pete King said Republicans and Democrats both are to blame for the partial government shutdown over funding for a border wall and called for them to stop appealing to their political supporters and find a compromise to get the hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work.

Trump may be able to declare the nation’s lack of a border wall a national emergency after all — but proving the U.S. urgently needs to construct such a structure could prove more difficult.

NY-19 Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado is taking over the portfolio on easing water contamination in Hoosick Falls, and more broadly the fight to restore regulatory teeth to Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could meet in Vietnam’s capital for their second summit on Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo said.

A slew of congressional lawmakers are vowing to decline their paychecks in a show of solidarity with federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown that has stretched into its third week.

Long-suffering New York straphangers face the prospect of even more frustrating delays and service cutbacks because the MTA is losing $150 million a month in federal funding due to the partial government shutdown, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned.

More than 50,000 federal workers and contractors in the metropolitan area, including thousands on Long Island, are not receiving paychecks thanks to the government shutdown, Schumer said.

An FDNY firefighter died after falling from the Belt Parkway’s Mill Basin drawbridge in Brooklyn —where he was trying to save two injured motorists who flipped their car and got trapped.

Susan Grelick, a top lawyer for new state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who has vowed to make combating sexual abuse a main priority, recently urged leniency for a sex-harassing former pol, Buffalo Democrat Marc Panepinto.

Hillary Clinton is joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he pushes to pass the Reproductive Health Act in New York and decriminalize abortion, she announced on Twitter.

State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott has been replaced by Letizia Tagliafierro, a longtime Cuomo aide whose previous posts include the top staff job at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. It’s unclear what prompted the decision to replace Leahy Scott, who has been in the job for the past five and a half years.

Michael Kopy, a longtime state police supervisor and former volunteer fire chief in Mamaroneck, has been named the new Director of Emergency Management for Cuomo.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is refusing to say how he and his members can accept a pay raise when they believe the committee that authorized them acted illegally.

More >

The Weekend That Was

As a partial government shutdown entered its third week, negotiations between Vice President Mike Pence and congressional aides from both parties yielded little progress this weekend while the impact on government services and on federal workers was worsening by the day.

Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, appeared today to roll back the president’s decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave American forces there for months or even years.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: ““I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats. I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security!”

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib against the “faux-outrage” from conservatives claiming to be upset over her use of profanity in pushing to impeach Trump.

Political bickering over a border wall is weighing a heavy burden on the nation’s already backlogged immigration courts — delaying some cases until 2023.

U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops will gather Wednesday for a weeklong retreat near Chicago on the church sexual abuse scandal that organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy.

Rear Adm. Kevin M. Sweeney has resigned his post as chief of staff to the United States secretary of defense, the Defense Department said. His departure comes soon after the abrupt resignation of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom is expected to introduce a proposal to give families six months of paid leave after the birth of a child – the longest in the nation. What’s unclear is how he plans to pay for it.

It took less than 48 hours into the new Congress for some of the most liberal freshmen of the now Democratic-controlled House to upend Capitol Hill — and they see no reason to slow down.

CIA Director Gina Haspel has appointed a woman as the agency’s No. 1 analyst, creating an all-female team at the top.

Meera Joshi, the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, will step down from the role in March, de Blasio announced.

In an open letter on Saturday, the online retail behemoth Amazon ticked off a slew of benefits it promises to bring to Long Island City, where it has stirred controversy since it selected the Queens neighborhood in November as a site for its new HQ2 corporate headquarters.

De Blasio and his advisers went to great lengths to keep the controversial deal to bring a new Amazon headquarters to Queens under wraps, a trove of emails released Friday by City Hall shows.

Experts and officials were fuming at the governor for throwing his own agency’s plan for overhauling the NYC subway’s aging signal system under the bus, saying he is being irresponsible by announcing these ideas to the public instead of working through and testing them with MTA engineers.

The engineering team behind Cuomo’s miracle L train cure has little experience working on transit projects and spent a grand total of an hour evaluating the damage to the Canarsie Tunnel.

Borough President Eric Adams was joined by elected officials to call on Cuomo and the MTA to be more transparent when it comes to the new L train proposals.

The Brooklyn lawyer busted for three Manhattan cold-case sex crimes could be linked to at least two others, cops said.

The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, which spent $1 million on annual scholarship-fundraising galas over two years but gave zilch to needy minority students, also failed to pay school taxes on its Albany building.

Leaders of the state Assembly and Senate will project a clear message to the governor this week as they kick off their formal sessions on Wednesday: We all have progressive goals, but don’t think you can push us around.

New York’s 911 communication services are in a state of emergency themselves as Albany siphons off hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed funds to state coffers, an FCC commissioner says.

The NYC Council will hold an oversight hearing to grill Con Edison bigwigs about what went wrong at an Astoria substation that led to a power arc seen across the city — and to determine how Con Edison can upgrade its electrical grid to be safer and greener.

State Police began quietly seizing license plates from unauthorized limousines following the Oct. 6 crash in Schoharie County in which 20 people were killed when a stretch limo that had been ordered taken off the road careened through an intersection and crashed head-on into a ditch.

Both Letitia James, the new state AG, and new state Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins shattered glass ceilings last week, but they have very distinct views on the meaning of their moment in New York State history.

Serial pickpockets drove an uptick in crime in New York City’s transit system in 2018, one of the few areas in the city where major felonies increased last year, according to police officials.

State contractors spoke with the mayors of Hudson River towns this week about their plan to use explosives to take down the remains of the old Tappan Zee Bridge but officials still won’t say when the implosion will occur.

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II, who announced on Friday that he’ll be stepping down from the job, did so after being asked to leave, according to law enforcement sources and an internal memo obtained by The NY Post.

State officials said they had reached a $9 million settlement with a major student loan servicing company that they said misled borrowers, costing them millions in additional fees and interest charges.

New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler is stepping down at the end of this month, retiring from public service after overseeing the agency’s modernization efforts.

Many big police departments will not use open-ended mug shot searches because of the chance of a mistaken identification. But New York City detectives turn to them routinely.

New federal research finds that residents of a census tract within Hamilton Hill in Schenectady are expected to live just 66.2 years — the shortest lifespan of any census tract in the Capital Region and far below the statewide life expectancy of 81 years.

Three years into the $4.1 million deer-vasectomy program meant to reduce Staten Island’s herd, the animals are causing more car crashes than ever – 103 accidents in 2018 — an all-time high — and injuring 17 people, according to the NYPD.

Cuomo swore in Peter Harckham as the state senator for District 40.

As some 900 FDNY paramedics and EMTs have left to become firefighters in the last year, the city’s ability to respond to medical emergencies has reached a crisis point, union leaders warn.

The outgoing New Jersey congressman, Thomas MacArthur, who sponsored a bill to funnel $25 million a year to 9/11 memorials says the money will make the World Trade Center site less vulnerable to attack — but critics are not convinced.

Two county executives – Erie’s Mark Poloncarz and and Suffolk’s Steven Bellone – co-authored an OpEd about they and other local government leaders are continuing to battle the opioid epidemic.

Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal wants to ban the incubation and hatching of baby chicks in schools, saying the practice is cruel and leads to the abandonment and death of countless young birds each year.

Unsafe sleep environments are increasingly to blame for infant deaths in New York, according to new state data.

A former Rensselaer County sheriff’s deputy who was fired from his job after the State Police mistakenly publicized his 2017 arrest on charges alleging he had committed a sex crime against a 7-year-old when he was 11 years old has filed a federal lawsuit against the investigators who handled the case.

NYC’s elite private school reserve funds have exploded thanks to a booming stock market and wealthy parents growing richer by the minute, tax filings show.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn offered one word about the body-worn camera video showing part of a bloody encounter between a Bills fan and a sheriff’s deputy. “Troubling.” His office is investigating.

Before the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority asks the federal government for more money, the local agency needs to take advantage of millions of dollars – as much as $150 million – it already qualifies for but hasn’t sought out, says Rep. Brian Higgins.

A new lawsuit in Buffalo federal court says the Wegmans case is just one example of how the government is now using hacking in ordinary, day-to-day investigations, and not just in national security and foreign intelligence probes.

According to new federal data, in Buffalo’s “digital deserts,” more than half of households – most of them low-income – lack internet access, even though 80 percent of households in Erie and Niagara counties are online.

A new law requires all new or renovated buildings in New York that have bathrooms used by the public to make changing tables available to both men and women.

The work for a planned Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in South Buffalo will begin in April.