Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin


Democratic leaders and President Trump offered sharply different views on the state of border-wall negotiations following a White House meeting, amid stalled progress toward a spending deal that would reopen parts of the federal government.

Trump warned Democratic leaders he’s willing to keep the government shut down for months, or even “years.”

Senior political appointees chosen by the president including Cabinet officials, top administrators and the vice president will reportedly see their pay raise by around $10,000 per year on Saturday amid the ongoing government shutdown.

Seven Republicans – including New York Reps. Elise Stefanik, John Katko and Peter King – voted with Democrats late yesterday to end the two-week-old government shutdown over Trump’s demand for funding his $5 billion border wall.

The deadlock in D.C. is impacting a wide variety of people and businesses. Here’s the story of how one Brooklyn brewery is being affected.

Trump condemned a freshman Democratic congresswoman – Rep. Rashida Tlaib, of Micihgan – who profanely said the day before that he should be impeached. (Several of her fellow Democrats also said the comment were not helpful, or outright inappropriate).

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has personally been working the phones and calling senior executives at Wall Street firms in recent weeks to see whether they would back her presidential campaign if she jumps into the 2020 race.

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has reportedly hired two top staffers including a former member of President Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns to lead her growing presidential campaign following her video announcement this week.

Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, is meeting with prospective Democratic candidates for the 2020 race, with top-tier contenders seeking her endorsement.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got into the groove of things and showed off her best dance moves in response to a years-old video that a critic released in an attempt to embarrass her.

Ocasio-Cortez says tax rates for the nation’s wealthiest should increase to as much 70 percent to fund a new initiative to combat climate change — even if that means she’s labeled a “radical.”

Former state Senate aide Robert Nickol was sentenced to three years of probation after a jury in October found him guilty of misdemeanor assault for whipping his ex-girlfriend with an electric cord and slapping her in the face.

SUNY Upstate Medical University has not dropped the ball on patient care, education and research amid the turmoil that has rocked the campus over the past year, according to its new leader: Dr. Mantosh J. Dewan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo commenced the winter season with the announcement of $4.2 million in state funds for the maintenance and preparation of snowmobile trails in New York state.

The polar vortex, a system of cold air that generally swirls high above the north pole, could break into several pieces and bring cold air to the Northeast later this month, meteorologists say.

Cuomo called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board to hold an emergency meeting to vote on his leaner, faster repair plan to patch up parts of the L train tunnel while trains are running and avoid a 15-month shutdown.

Longshot New York City public advocate candidate Theo Chino was briefly detained by police after he heckled NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson during a Harlem news conference on discounted subway fares.

Here and Now

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

At 11 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart alert residents to scams that have been targeting Long Island residents, H. Lee Dennison Building, Media Room, 100 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge.

Also at 11 a.m., Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Regent Luis Reyes will participate in the 42nd Annual Three Kings Day Parade, and will be honored for their contribution to the Latino community, 106th Street and Park Avenue, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., de Blasio and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson will hold a media availability on the Fair Fares program, 125th Street Station – Mezzanine, 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the Dairy Promotion Order Advisory Board meets, state Department of Agriculture and Markets, Pride of NY Room, 10B Airline Dr., Albany.


Nancy Pelosi, newly elected as Speaker of the House, invited President Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Jan. 29.

House Democrats passed a spending package aimed at reopening the federal government, defying Trump’s demands for border-wall funding on their first day in power.

Trump preemptively shot down the prospect by vowing to veto the measure before it was even voted on.

On the first day of divided government in a reordered Washington, Pelosi, now second in line to the presidency, and Trump clashed from their respective ends of Pennsylvania Avenue almost from dawn until dusk.

Pelosi received 220 votes in her successful bid to return to the speaker’s chair, three New Yorkers did not support her: Two freshmen, Staten Island Rep. Max Rose and Utica Rep. Anthony Brindisi; and Long Island Rep. Kathleen Rice.

Democratic California Rep. Brad Sherman introduced articles of impeachment against Trump as soon as the new Congress came into session, alleging the commander-in-chief has obstructed justice by meddling in the Russia investigation.

A slew of new faces surrounded Trump at a cabinet meeting in which he expounded on a wide range of issues and aired grievances after spending much of the holidays alone in the White House amid a partial government shutdown.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still won’t say whether she’s giving up her salary during the partial government shutdown — a move she previously advocated for all lawmakers.

A video appearing to show a young Ocasio-Cortez imitating actress Ally Sheedy’s moves from the iconic 1985 John Hughes flick “The Breakfast Club” was spread on Twitter by a critic of the congresswoman, but the move backfired.

The House of Representatives easily enacted a set of rules that included “pay-go” budget limits loathed by some progressive members of Congress and outside activists. Just three Democrats voted against it – including Ocasio-Cortez.

The new rules mark the new Democratic majority’s first attempt at an ethics crackdown. They seem aimed at WNY Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who has been charged with felony insider trading, as well as Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican accused of raiding his campaign fund for personal use.

A partial government shutdown entered its 13th day, prompting two of WNY’s three House members — including Republican Rep. Tom Reed — to call for solutions that don’t exactly comport with Trump’s insistence on a wall at the Mexican border.

With the shutdown soon to enter its third week, and Trump dug in on his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the first time is facing pressure from members of his own party to step in to resolve the stalemate that has left 800,000 federal workers either furloughed or working without pay.

Two weeks into the federal shutdown, college and university officials are waiting to see how the spending freeze impacts the numerous research projects that are funded through the government. But they stress it’s too early to say if particular initiatives are in danger of outright derailment.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that he will not run for president in 2020, writing in the Des Moines Register that he hopes former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke runs instead.

In a surprise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has canceled the proposed 15-month shutdown of the L subway line between Brooklyn and Manhattan that was supposed to begin at the end of April.

Cuomo and a panel of Ivy League engineering experts unveiled their last-minute 10-point plan to dodge the dreaded 24/7 L-train shutdown with cutting-edge technology never before used on US rails.

The canceled shuttering of the line will instead be replaced by nothing worse than night and weekend closures in its two century-old tubes, allowing service to continue on a single tube despite the repair work, according to the governor.

Cuomo’s announcement raised a host of questions: Would the new technology work? Has it been effective elsewhere? Why did the governor wait until the last minute to do this? Transit advocates wondered how much the construction would cost and whether Cuomo, who controls the subway, had made the decision unilaterally.

The decision to halt the full shutdown was apparently a closely guarded secret, and only the governor and a small circle of top aides were briefed on it ahead of time. As of noon yesterday, some MTA board members had yet to be informed of the substance of Cuomo’s announcement.

The surprise decision to keep the L train running on weekdays during tunnel repairs is being cheered by Williamsburg landlords, who have lost significant revenue since the full shutdown plan was announced nearly three years ago.

More >


Democrats assumed control of the House and elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to be speaker, returning her to a historic distinction as the first woman to hold the post at the pinnacle of power in Congress, second in line to the presidency.

Tony Bennett, who sang “I left my heart in San Francisco” at a dinner honoring Pelosi at the Italian embassy last night, was spotted in the visitors gallery, as was Mickey Hart, former drummer of the Grateful Dead.

Pelosi, 78, also made history in a less positive way — ascending to the speakership in the middle of a partial government shutdown with no end in sight.

Nearly a third of the 203 Democrats who voted for Pelosi behind closed doors yesterday changed their position on her candidacy over the past month.

Utica Rep. Anthony Brindisi defied Democratic Party leaders with his first vote in Congress today when he refused to vote for Pelosi as speaker. (He voted for former VP Joe Biden).

Also rejecting Pelosi were 14 other Democrats, including New York Reps. Kathleen Rice (Long Island), and Max Rose (Staten Island).

One of the Democrats’ first moves was to change the way the House does business, and in so doing, handed down a rebuke to Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence as well as a partial victory to Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning.

A spokesman for President Trump said congressional leaders have been invited back to the White House tomorrow morning for talks to resolve the partial government shutdown, but it’s unclear if the meeting will take place.

The Trump administration is considering Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, to be the next defense secretary, according to three officials, potentially bypassing more hawkish Republicans whose names have been floated to replace Jim Mattis.

Pope Francis has issued a letter to US Catholic bishops speaking of the “sins and crimes” regarding the rampant sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church – and how the church’s “credibility has been seriously undercut” by the offenses.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris makes the case for automatic voter registration in New York.

A video of Queens Re. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing with her teenaged friends on a rooftop back in the day has somehow caused controversy among conservatives.

In a nod to the many suffragists who came before her, Ocasio-Cortez wore all white to be sworn in as the youngest women ever to be elected to Congress.

“The fact is, on paper at least, Cuomo has as strong a case to be a viable presidential candidate as just about anyone in the current field of potential Democratic candidates.”

A Long Island business group is urging state leaders to beef up suburban bus service and complete the rollback of an unpopular tax as part of any “congestion pricing” plan.

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to Airbnb in its lawsuit against the New York City Council over a law that would have required short-term rental companies to disclose details about hosts and the units they rent that was set to take effect in February.

Colonie Center, the Capital Region’s second-largest mall, is up for sale by the buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Meteorologists say snow is coming to Upstate New York, but not all that much and not all that soon.

Here and Now

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

In Washington, the federal government shutdown continues, and Democrats are scheduled to officially take control of the House.

There will be a speaker vote today, and also a vote on a rules reform package, which is being rejected by some of the conference’s more progressive members – including Queens freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Vice President Mike Pence this morning attends the Indiana delegation breakfast at the U.S. Capitol and then participates in the opening of the 116th Congress.

In the afternoon, Pence participates in the ceremonial swearing-in of newly elected and re-elected U.S. senators.

At 8:10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul is a guest on the WEBO Morning Show with Dave Radigan and Lew Sauerbrey.

At 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey unveil renovation plans for Roberto Clemente State Park’s south playground, Roberto Clemente State Park, 301 W. Tremont Ave., the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and CityLights residents demand relief for the middle class tenants after the Amazon HQ2 deal, Gantry State Park, 48th Avenue and Center Boulevard, Queens.

At 11 a.m., Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus and members of the Orange County Legislature announce details about the Orange County Airport’s $30 million runway realignment project, Orange County Airport, 500 Dunn Road, Montgomery.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill will hold a media availability regarding year-end crime statistics, 67th Precinct, 2820 Snyder Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci hosts a PTSD roundtable with community experts from Rockland and Westchester counties, Nyack Public Library, 59 S Broadway, Nyack.

An 11 a.m. scheduled meeting of the state Gaming Commission has been postponed until further notice.

At noon, IndivisibleNY19 hosts a “Who’s House? Our House” kickoff rally calling on new Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado to support a democracy reform bill, 7 Grand St., Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., Rep. Joe Morelle will take the oath of office and participate in a ceremonial swearing-in photograph accompanied by his wife, Mary Beth, Rayburn Room, H-207, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.

At 5 p.m., various groups hold a NYC-wide “day of action” to tell Democratic leaders to “stay bold” and united against Trump’s border wall demands, 780 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Amplify Her, an organization that helps elect progressive female candidates, hosts a forum for New York City public advocate candidates Ify Ike, Nomiki Konst, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dawn Smalls and Latrice Walker, LMHQ, 150 Broadway, 20th floor, Manhattan.


President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders dug in for a lengthy partial shutdown in a newly divided government after a White House meeting — the first in 22 days — could not break an impasse over Trump’s demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi is all but assured today of reclaiming her former title as speaker of the House – the first lawmaker in more than half a century to hold the office twice. With the gavel in hand, she will cement her status as the highest-ranking and most powerful elected woman in American political history.

As a partial government shutdown takes a growing toll on national parks and other public lands, environmental advocates are concerned that public records relating to the shutdown’s impacts may be harder to access once it ends.

Trump said that he had “essentially” fired Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month because he was dissatisfied with Mattis’s performance in the top civilian job at the Pentagon.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said it would hold confirmation hearings on Jan. 15 and 16 for Attorney General nominee William Barr, who has come under fire from Democrats for his criticism of the special counsel’s Russia probe.

Late last night, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani explained that witches don’t have to be offended by Trump’s — and others — use of the phrase “witch hunt” to describe the Mueller probe.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his longtime friend and ally, former Vice President Joe Biden, makes the “best case” to be president of all the Democrats considered potential 2020 candidates.

Cuomo explained he believes Biden “has the best case because he brings the most of the secret ingredient you need to win for a Democrat, which is credibility.”

Cuomo, who has repeatedly ruled out a 2020 bid of his own, did not mention, by name, any of the other Democrats looking at a White House run, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a fellow New Yorker.

As Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tries to build support for a second run at the White House, his perceived failure to address sexual harassment and sexism complaints during his 2016 run has damaged his progressive bona fides, delegates and nearly a dozen former state and national staff members said.

When asked about the allegations, Sanders replied that he was “a little bit busy running around the country” to take notice of the issue.

There’s a renewed expectation among Democrats in New York that 2019 could be the year the state Legislature approves reforms to the state’s cash bail system, rules on discovery and laws to guarantee a speedy trial for criminal defendants, though that won’t necessarily be easy.

Cuomo threatened to investigate funding for the pet projects of lawmakers if the Legislature ramps up probes of his administration.

Cuomo’s comments came after a report that Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, the new heads of the Senate and Assembly investigation committees, respectively, are among Democrats who say the Legislature hasn’t exerted its constitutional powers as a co-equal branch of government to the extent it should.

The governor said that he’s not worried about New York losing clout if the state is forced to shed two congressional seats because of a population drop.

Buffalo state Sen. Tim Kennedy, who has spent a lifetime dreaming of – and preparing for – a political career, has become an overnight power broker in Western New York as just one of three upstate Democrats in the new Senate majority.

Two real estate titans close to Trump pulled out of a tour last month of the Hudson River rail tunnels serving Penn Station that had been arranged by Cuomo.

John Podhortez: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the stage at his third inauguration to express his horror at President Trump, which is pretty funny when you think about it: The politician Trump most resembles is…Andrew Cuomo.”

A former NYPD commander was acquitted of federal corruption charges after a seven-week trial in which prosecutors contended he had done favors for two businessmen in return for lavish gifts, including a junket to Las Vegas with a prostitute.

The same Manhattan Federal Court panel, in a split verdict, convicted a deep-pocketed Brooklyn businessman and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio backer of conspiring to bribe police officers in a scandal that cast a shadow over City Hall.

More >


The federal government is still shut down, and it’s possible the impasse could take weeks to resolve.

Senator-elect Mitt Romney’s biting critique that Trump has “not risen to the mantle of the office” touched off a series of counterattacks from the president’s allies and an initial effort to insulate him from a primary challenge next year.

Trump himself tweeted at the incoming senator from Utah, suggesting that he should be a “team player” and advising him not to criticize the administration as former Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake did over the past two years.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, did not mince words about Trump, declaring him “without question the worst president we’ve ever had” in a rare interview – his first since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.

Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to defy Nancy Pelosi as soon as she is sworn in as House speaker by voting against the Democrats’ rules package because it includes a “pay-go” provision that she says will hinder getting progressive legislation passed.

Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer is planning to visit the early presidential caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada as he considers running for president in 2020.

Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson teed off on her former employer’s coverage of the president, arguing that news articles have become “unmistakably anti-Trump” with some headlines and stories containing “raw opinion.”

A former NYPD cop, Deputy Insp. James Grant, was cleared of all charges in a hooker-fueled corruption scheme, but his co-defendant — Jeremy Reichberg, a former fundraiser for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio — was convicted on four of five counts.

The deputy mayor of Lynbrook, Long Island joined two residents — who all opposed recent proposed development — to announce the formation of a new political party and their candidacy for three village board positions up for election in March.

Rich Products is undergoing some changes, which will include laying-off 19 employees at the plant in Buffalo.

De Blasio named Julie Menin, who currently serves as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, to oversee the census count in 2020 — which will help determine how many seats the state will have in Congress.

Glacier Ridge Sports Park is closed following the destruction left from Tuesday’s wind storm.

The MTA could miss out on at least $17 million in revenue in the opening weeks of 2019 because of a legal challenge to a congestion charge on taxi and ride-hailing trips in Manhattan.

Turning Stone Resort Casino is partnering with Caesars Entertainment to provide sports gambling once New York crafts regulations allowing for the expansion of gambling.

Andrew McKenna, 49, of Sand Lake, a former federal prosecutor turned heroin addict and bank robber, was charged with felony drunken driving after being stopped last month on the Northway.

Extras, Holiday Programming Note

We here at Capital Tonight are signing off for the new year – barring any breaking news, there won’t be much in the way of posts, perhaps some curtailed round ups. We’ll see how things goes. As for the Morning Memo, that will also likely arrive, albeit slightly later than 4 a.m., in a shortened format, in the days between Christmas and New Year’s

For those in our viewing area, there will be no shows during the holiday. We will be covering the governor’s inauguration ceremony at which he’ll be sworn in to a third, four-year term on New Year’s Day. (This is scheduled to take place on Ellis Island, provided that it’s still open. It’s a national park, and all of those will be closed in the event of a government shutdown, is my understanding).

We have some changes in store for you in 2019, which promises to be a very interesting year. I don’t want to give anything away, but, to quote a certain former U.S. attorney for the Southern District: “Stay tuned.”

Here’s wishing you a safe and joyous holiday season, wherever and with whomever you may be celebrating.

…and to all, a good night. Be well. – L

President Trump warned that a partial government shutdown “will last for a very long time,” seeking to blame Democrats for a potential funding lapse that he said last week he would proudly own.

U.S. Senate Republicans rejected Trump’s proposal to invoke the “nuclear option” to get funding for his border wall — putting the government on the path to a partial shutdown this weekend.

NORAD’s annual Santa tracker won’t be impacted by a government shutdown.

Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused a request from the Trump administration to restore newly-implemented restrictions to prevent some migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally from applying for asylum.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for early stage lung cancer. Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York performed a lobectomy, removing one of the five lobes of the lung.

New York’s nine Republican representatives voted in favor of the spending bill with the border wall funding attached.

There will be no construction on roads and bridges during peak holiday travel times over the next two weekends, the governor announced.

Stu Loeser, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s press secretary, had a Christmas package returned to him in the mail — almost exactly a year after trying to send it 23 blocks away.

Former New York Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson says that while the former NYC mayor is mulling a potential 2020 run for president as a Democrat, he “is not going to be intimidated by Donald Trump.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that if the city council had backed his cap on Uber and other ride-hail licenses three years ago, the lives of cab drivers might have been saved.

A former Boston public schools superintendent who was forced out of his job in June has landed a consulting gig with the NYC Education Department.

Though U.S. allies are worried and even downright frightened, Russia is pleased with the departure of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis from the Trump administration.

Here’s the governor playing Santa, though he had a hard time finding takers for one of his gifts: A football.

The NYC Commission on Human Rights is looking into reports that a Prada employee was retaliated against for complaining about the display of “Pradamalia” keychains and other trinkets — that included a character with black skin and oversized red lips.

Cuomo has signed a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights, which helps survivors of sexual assault request and receive information to help them navigate through the current criminal justice system.

Erie County lawmakers became the first county legislature in New York State to take a legislative position in support of reforms to the bail system, following a unanimous vote Thursday.

A Buffalo Diocese priest who was suspended due to a sex abuse allegation was cleared by a diocese investigation to return as pastor of a Clarence parish.

Musician Miley Cyrus revamped the lyrics to the Christmas song “Santa Baby” with a feminist message, calling for equal pay and an end to sexual harassment.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Erie County, Nassau County, New York City and Albany.

At 9 a.m., Cuomo delivers presents from the New York State toy drive, Dr. Charles R. Drew Science Magnet P.S. #59 Annex, 50 A St., Buffalo. (LG Kathy Hochul will also attend).

At 9:45 a.m., a pre-taped interview with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will air on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning.

At 10 a.m., de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and take calls from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., NYOPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill will preside over promotions, 1 Police Plaza, auditorium, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks about investments in hospital infrastructure at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, 1901 1st Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., O’Neill holds a media availability, 1 Police Plaza, press room, Manhattan.

At noon, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and other elected officials host a press conference on the expansion of Metro-North service to the East Bronx, Residence Inn by Marriott, Lobby, 1776 Eastchester Road, Bronx.

At 12:10 p.m., Cuomo delivers presents from the New York State tory drive, Long Beach MLK Center, 615 Riverside Blvd., Long Beach, Long Island.

At 1 p.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano joins the city of Yonkers Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation at a ribbon-cutting for the new renovations at E.J. Murray’s Skating Center, 348 Tuckahoe Road, Yonkers.

At 1:45 p.m., Cuomo delivers presents from the New York State toy drive, Antioch Baptist Church, 515 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., O’Neill presides over a second round of promotions, 1 Police Plaza, auditorium, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m. – NYC Council members Vanessa Gibson, Fernando Cabrera and Ritchie Torres as well as state Sen. Jose Serrano and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo host a NYPD appreciation luncheon, Bronx Community College, Colston Hall, 2155 University Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 3 p.m. – Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright and New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. host a holiday party, Restoration Plaza, fifth floor, 1360 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., Diaz Jr. attends NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo’s holiday party, Ingersoll Community Center, 177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., Diaz Jr. attends the SSEU Local 371 holiday party, 1501 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 8 p.m., Diaz Jr. attends NYC Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.’s annual holiday party, Maestro’s, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., the Bronx.


The departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis leaves the Trump administration without one of the few officials viewed as standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.

Trump made the announcement about Mattis’ departure on Twitter. Here’s the full text of Mattis’ resignation letter.

This also completes a near-wholesale shake-up of Trump’s initial national security team and follows a record-setting series of departures of administration leaders so early in a presidency.

Mattis is the first defense secretary ever to resign in protest, according to a presidential historian.

Shaken, disappointed, saddened and scared – those were just some of the reactions in a bipartisan outpouring of shock and concern as lawmakers reacted Thursday to the news that Mattis had resigned over Trump’s policy decisions.

The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months, two defense officials said – an abrupt shift in the 17-year-old war there and a decision that stunned Afghan officials, who said they had not been briefed on the plans.

Meanwhile, the president torpedoed a spending deal and sent the government careening toward a Christmastime shutdown over his demand of $5 billion for a wall on the southwestern border, refusing to sign a stopgap measure to keep funds flowing past midnight tonight.

The House voted along party lines to approve a temporary spending bill that includes $5 billion in funding for a Mexico border wall, bringing the country closer to a partial government shutdown.

Trump’s decision that he’s OK with a government shutdown is a win for the hard-liners in the House Freedom Caucus, and the quintessential ending to the fractious eight-year House GOP majority, which was dominated by knife fights between GOP leaders and conservatives.

Matthew Whitaker, who was installed last month as acting attorney general by Trump, has cleared himself to supervise the special counsel’s investigation, rejecting the recommendation of career Justice Department ethics specialists that he recuse himself, according to a letter the department sent to Senate leaders last night.

It looks like Trump is unwilling to back down from his demand for $5 billion for his long-promised border wall. Democrats have made clear that figure is a nonstarter, however, leaving Congress at an impasse over the wall.

More than 800,000 federal employees face furlough in a shutdown, and nine of fifteen agencies would close this weekend if a spending deal isn’t reached in time.

The Trump administration announced that it would seek to put in place more stringent work requirements for adults who rely on food stamps, even as the president signed a sweeping farm bill in which lawmakers had rejected stricter rules.

Trump celebrated the signing of the new farm bill by tweeting out a video from the 2005 Emmys showing him in overalls, a straw hat and holding a pitchfork while singing the theme song to the TV sitcom “Green Acres” with “Will & Grace” actress Megan Mullally.

Lawmakers of both parties voted to give Robert Mueller the official transcripts of an interview they conducted with Roger Stone, marking the most decisive step yet that the special counsel is prepping to indict the mercurial Trump loyalist.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s in favor of legalizing marijuana, but only if it’s done right.

The mayor said that his family’s experiences with addiction, including growing up with a father who was addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, compelled him to make sure that New York City took enough precautions before embracing legalization.

New York state should do more to prevent sexual harassment, including making bystander intervention training mandatory for state employees, a pair of Democratic lawmakers – Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and incoming state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi – said.

A state court judge postponed implementation of a congestion fee on taxi and for-hire trips in Manhattan that was slated to begin Jan. 1, pending a Jan. 3 hearing for a last-minute lawsuit filed by a group of taxi medallion owners and cabdrivers who say the charge discriminates against the yellow cab industry.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he is open to passing a procurement oversight measure which passed the Senate but stagnated in the Assembly this year, and other potential checks on the executive branch.

More >


Secretary of Defense James Mattis will leave the government in February, President Trump announced a day after he said that U.S. troops would leave Syria, which is a move the Pentagon opposed.

A deal to avert a Christmastime government shutdown teetered after Trump told House Republican leaders he would not sign a stopgap spending bill if it does not include border-wall funding.

Trump defended his plan to withdraw American troops from Syria against mounting criticism from Republicans and Democrats and concerns from his military and diplomatic advisers who were caught off guard by his abrupt announcement a day earlier.

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said the best course of action may not be to build a “great wall,” as the president has suggested, but rather a structure with advanced technology that could pick up immigrants trying to cross the border.

A GoFundMe page set up by a Florida Air Force veteran to raise funds for Trump’s touted border wall has seen donations soar to more than $4.5 million in three days, according to the funding campaign, with donors using the names of prominent Democrats and other high-profile figures to make their contributions.

Cuomo today released a study by the DEC showing General Electric’s cleanup of PCB contamination in the upper Hudson River is incomplete and not protective of public health and the environment.

Sully the Labrador retriever, the late former President George H. W. Bush’s service dog, is back on his native Long Island, where he was born and trained by America’s VetDogs, and showed off a new badge with the presidential seal during a special ceremony.

The state’s watchdog agency has been ordered to hold a vote within 30 days on whether it will open a probe into claims that Cuomo and his former top aide Joe Percoco violated state law by using government resources for campaign purposes.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked the House Intelligence Committee for an official transcript of Trump adviser Roger Stone’s testimony, according to people familiar with the request, a sign that prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime.

The Democratic National Committee — which was accused of rigging the 2016 primary election for establishment favorite Hillary Clinton — announced it will host a dozen primary debates starting that could be open to as many as 20 candidates.

A coalition people with disabilities and their caretakers want Cuomo’s “2019 Justice Agenda” to include state funding for direct care workers to earn living wage.

Cuomo warned that New York can’t get too greedy in taxing recreational marijuana because residents could then easily cross the border to get cheaper weed.

Discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers remains widespread in the American workplace. It is so pervasive that even organizations that define themselves as champions of women are struggling with the problem. That includes Planned Parenthood.

Lawyers for New York state argued in a new motion to dismiss part of the NRA’s lawsuit that neither Cuomo nor Superintendent Maria Vullo of the state Department of Financial Services owe the gun lobby group a cent for the actions alleged in the litigation.

The Troy Police Department and the Albany County Sheriff’s office are each set to receive nearly $70,000 from the state AG’s office to help pay for the purchase of body cameras.

Although Rep. Elise Stefanik easily captured a third term in NY-21, her greater challenge may be trying to remain relevant in a state where her party has lost favor, and in a House where her party has lost power. Her approach: Bucking the GOP.

The NTSB told a New York prosecutor she has hampered the agency’s efforts to determine the cause of the limousine crash that killed 20 people in her rural upstate county, the nation’s deadliest transportation wreck in nearly a decade.

The Buffalo police officer who struck and killed a pedestrian in March while responding to a call is not criminally culpable for the death and did not have a clear view through his windshield because of a computer terminal inside the vehicle, according to a new report from the state Attorney General’s Office.

The New York City Council is reportedly examining an alleged ethics violation regarding Councilman Mark Gjonaj, specifically about how he hired donors, including a firm with which he has long ties to renovate his district office at taxpayer expense.

Cuomo promised rural New York residents that they would get broadband internet coverage by the end of this year, but technological limits, funding delays and a dispute with Charter Communications thwarted the governor’s goal.

Mixed martial arts has generated more revenue — and more tax payments to the state — in the two years since the sport was legalized, Cuomo said.

The Authorities Budget Office has issued regulations to increase the accountability, and to improve the efficiency and transparency, of the operations of Industrial Development Agencies within the state.

A West Seneca man whose story of being sexually abused by a priest helped unleash a tsunami of other abuse victims coming forward said the Buffalo Diocese’s offer to pay him less than $100,000 to settle his abuse claim was insulting.

Nevada will be the first state in the nation to have a female-dominated legislature — 51 percent of lawmakers will now be women.


The Federal Reserve announced a widely expected quarter-point increase in its benchmark interest rate and signaled that it plans to continue raising rates next year.

In his latest Twitter proclamation, the president lashed out at Cuomo and other Democrats over the news that the Trump Foundation will cease operations and have its remaining funds appropriated to other charities.

Trump also attacked the previous AG, Eric Schneiderman, who started the investigation into the foundation, deeming him a “sleazebag, who has since resigned over horrific women abuse.”

A federal judge blocked Trump administration policies that prevented immigrants who suffered gang violence or domestic abuse in their home countries from seeking asylum.

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared before members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, as Republicans conclude their months-long investigation into the handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and their separate probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has ordered a rapid withdrawal of all 2,000 United States ground troops from Syria within 30 days, declaring the four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, officials said.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Los Angeles auxiliary bishop Monsignor Alexander Salazar, who stands accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor in the 1990s.

Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan bemoaned the country’s “broken politics” in his farewell speech, calling Washington’s failure to overhaul costly federal benefit programs “our greatest unfinished business.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who might run for president in 2020, has a new dog named “Major.”

American voters give Biden a 53-33 percent favorability rating, topping Trump’s negative 40-56 percent favorability rating and besting a list of possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, according to a new Q poll.

State Sen. Kevin Parker tweeted: “Today, I made a donation to the @NAMICommunicate as a concrete reminder that mental health issues and suicide prevention are not to be taken lightly. I am deeply sorry for momentarily stepping away from this truth, & ask we all join together to help those in need.”

Joe Percoco won’t spend New Year’s Eve in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni pushed back the surrender date for the former top aide to Cuomo from Dec. 28 to Jan. 31. Percoco has filed a motion for bail pending the appeal of the corruption verdicts lodged against him in March.

Cuomo shot back at disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s contention that he has an “Orwellian relationship with facts,” saying: “The short period of time that Spitzer was in the Capitol before he disgraced the office and the people of the state of New York.”

“(Rep.-elect Alexandria) Ocasio-Cortez’s eagerness to flex her muscles, without demurring or waiting for her turn — without even waiting to be sworn in — is undergirding nightmarish fears about her as an agent of chaos and destruction.”

Despite its reputation for progressivism, New York has some of the most restrictive election laws in the nation. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to change that next year.

Betsy Gotbaum, the “godmother of good government,” has a new job, a new hip and a new dog, and is putting her calligraphy skills to work.

After media speculation, Maria Vullo will leave her position as superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services at the end of January.

A former top Upstate Medical University official who helped orchestrate a pay padding scheme at the SUNY school prayed in court for serenity today before he was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced that he’s following through on plans to wipe out more than 1,400 warrants in misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, as well as over two dozen past convictions.

Democrat Pete Harckham beat Republican state Sen. Terrence Murphy in the November election by flipping three Westchester County towns that Murphy won in 2016, election results show.

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority today announced that the largest community solar project in New York City has been completed and is operational.

Here and Now

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

Vice President Mike Pence this morning receives a briefing on space operations and cyber defense at the Pentagon, and then meets and greets Department of Defense employees.

In the afternoon, Pence participates in the Senate Steering Committee lunch at the U.S. Capitol.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning hosts a breakfast for Manhattan elected officials that is not open to members of the media.

At 7:45 a.m., former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, now a NYC public advocate candidate, greets commuters at the 116th Street 6 Train Station, Lexington Avenue, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo will be joined by Enrico Fermi School No. 17 Principal Caterina Leone-Mannino to distribute coats to children in need as part of the annual “Coats for Kids” program, Enrico Fermi School No. 17, 158 Orchard St., Rochester.

At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours Amphenol Aerospace, 191 Delaware Ave., Sidney.

At 10:30 a.m., Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, a NYC public advocate candidate, will be joined by dozens of tenants rights’ advocates to announce his three-point-plan to help end housing displacement in the city, 1800 Albemarle Rd., Brooklyn.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Hochul tours Corning Incorporated with local officials, 275 River St., Oneonta.

At 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features Hochul, WCNY.

Also at 11 a.m., the Legal Aid Society, rent-stabilized tenants, state Sen. Luis Sepulveda, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and others will hold a press conference in support of a recently filed lawsuit against the landlords of 1210 Stratford Ave. for refusing to address building needs, outside 1210 Stratford Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, the NYC Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., before a meeting scheduled by the Public Authorities Control Board, progressive leaders, community members will hold press conference calling on state elected officials to stop the “#HQ2Scam”, state Capitol, outside the state Senate chamber, 3rd Floor, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Immigration meets, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., de Blasio and First Lady McCray will make a public health-related announcement, University Neighborhood High School, 200 Monroe St., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney joins Jake Lemonda of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Gerard Fitzgerald of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan to call for the reinstatement of FDNY Engine Company 261 to support the growing population of Long Island City, FDNY Ladder Company 116, 37-20 29th St., Queens.

Also at 1 p.m., New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Executive Director John Coppola and Avi Israel from Buffalo-based Save the Michaels of the World discuss roadmap to end the opioids pandemic in New York, state Capitol, 2nd Floor near entrance to the AG’s office, Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., the New York Taxi Workers Alliance members and allies rally to demand yellow and green taxis be exempt from congestion pricing fee, Cuomo’s New York City office, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Hochul tours the Chobani plant and receives a briefing on its operations, 669 County Road 25, New Berlin.

At 2 p.m., ARP NY holds telephone town hall with members statewide on family caregiving with national expert and author Amy Goyer and AARP New York State legislative representative Bill Ferris, via livestream at or call-in at 1-866-495-1076.

At 3 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreations meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 3 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Small Business meets, Harlem Biospace, 423 W. 127th St., Manhattan.

Also at 3 p.m., Hochul visits the Lorenzo State Historic Site, 17 Rippleton Rd., Cazenovia.

At 3:45 p.m., McCray will visit the Lower Eastside Girls Club, 402 East 8th St., Manhattan.

At 5:40 p.m., Hochul is a guest on WBAI’s The Max & Murphy Show.


The White House signaled that President Donald Trump might be ready to capitulate on his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the southwestern border, but negotiations on a spending deal remained murky as lawmakers awaited a White House strategy to avert a Christmastime government shutdown.

The fact that Trump had in fact signed a letter of intent to move forward with negotiations on building a Trump Tower in Russia is “bulls—t,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said just two days after he insisted it had not been signed.

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies – like Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others – more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill backed by Trump, and it now heads to the House.

The First Step Act involves the most substantial changes in a generation to the tough-on-crime prison and sentencing laws that ballooned the federal prison population and created a criminal justice system that many conservatives and liberals view as costly and unfair.

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI has been delayed, as prosecutors revealed that he’s still cooperating in the investigation into Russian collusion.

Trump will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for the second time next month, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples said her former husband considered running for the Oval Office during the 1990s, but suggested he didn’t because it would’ve been too tough on his children.

Brooklyn state Sen. Kevin Parker, who has a history of anger management issues, told a Republican Senate staffer on Twitter to kill herself.

“I don’t know why it is a temper issue. Did I touch her? Did I yell at her? It was a tweet,” Parker said. “That’s all it was. Had I said this to her in the hallway, would we be having this conversation? Probably not.”

Parker wrote his comment on Twitter after the deputy communications director for the state Senate’s GOP majority, Candice Giove, said a car with the senator’s placard was blocking a bike lane in Midtown Manhattan.

“Given that it was Albany, of course, there were more than a few layers of back story, complete with barely buried feelings of party betrayal, memories of disastrous legislative sessions and the real possibility of parking placard impropriety.”

The senator apologized, but then continued to criticize Giove on Twitter and in interviews.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said he was “very concerned” about Parker’s tweet, and that the senator had stepped down as co-chair of his NYC public advocate campaign.

AG Barbara Underwood announced a settlement that will soon dissolve the Trump Foundation and force the charity to dole out the remaining $1.75 million left in its coffers.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the linkage of lawmaker raises to on-time budgets gives the governor undue leverage during the budget talks, and also indicated his members will discuss taking up a bill to reform the procurement process after convictions tied to some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s upstate economic development projects.

Heastie accused Cuomo of lying about Albany’s salary commission, claiming they had a deal that it would only examine raises for legislators and top state officials and nothing else.

A report issued by state leaders said that a surcharge on drivers headed into NYC – otherwise known as congestion pricing – is an “attractive” way to help fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — and avoid a public transit catastrophe that would cripple the region.

The cash-strapped MTA needs billions more to modernize mass transit and should be restructured, according to a task force created to address the region’s mobility crisis.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson were working on a plan to repair the city’s problem-plagued public housing authority and avoid it being placed in federal receivership.

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