Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Friday, 9 June 2017

Trump claims victory after Comey testimony, calls fired FBI director ‘a leaker’

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Trump claims victory after Comey testimony, calls fired FBI director ‘a leaker’
 President Trump implied in a Friday morning tweet that fired FBI Director James Comey lied during his lengthy testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier, but said the remarks cleared his name.

The remarks were the first Trump has personally made since Thursday’s testimony, when the President was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted shortly after 6 a.m. Friday.

What part of Comey’s sweeping testimony vindicated the President wasn’t fully made clear.

The second part of the tweet referred to Comey’s admission that he leaked memos about his meetings with Trump through a friend.

Sending the memos to The New York Times, Comey said, was a bid to push for a special counsel in the case.

Comey’s remarks, which were released the night before, were spiced up Thursday as the fired lawman said the President lied about multiple things.

Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.

He opened his remarks by saying Trump’s reasons for firing Comey on May 9 were “lies, plain and simple” and a bid to “defame” him and the FBI.

Marc Kasowitz, the President’s lawyer, fired back at Comey Thursday, saying the President hadn’t asked him to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Kasowitz also said Comey lied about his meetings with Trump in which the President allegedly asked for loyalty multiple times.
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Trump ‘100%’ willing to testify under oath about Comey, but won't comment on tapes

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Trump ‘100%’ willing to testify under oath about Comey, but won't comment on tapes
 WASHINGTON — President Trump refused to say whether he taped his private conversations with James Comey on Friday, before accusing Comey of perjury.

Trump then claimed Comey's testimony proved there was "No collusion, no obstruction, he’s a leaker but we want to get back to running our very great country."

"Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well," he continued. “Some of the things he said just weren’t true.”

STASIS: Comey shows how Trump runs the White House like mob family
Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.

The comments come after Trump bashed Comey on Twitter Friday morning, accusing him of lying.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” he tweeted.
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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Hillary Clinton takes swipes at President Trump in Medgar Evers commencement speech

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Hillary Clinton takes swipes at President Trump in Medgar Evers commencement speech
 The 2016 election is still “with her.”

Hillary Clinton on Thursday invoked her crushing election loss, took multiple swipes at President Trump and urged graduates to fight for social justice in a boisterous Thursday morning commencement address at Medgar Evers College.

“When I was here last year, someone asked if I would come back and speak at commencement,” Clinton told thousands assembled at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “Now, I wish I had flown in from the White House, but I’m just as happy to be here anyway.”

Clinton did not once mention former FBI director James Comey — one of myriad people, places and things Clinton blames for her defeat in November — who sat more than 200 miles away for a much-anticipated grilling by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She would, however, obliquely reference her 2016 opponent’s infamous campaign slogan while praising the graduating class’s diversity.

“You are an inspiring group,” she said. “You come from 94 countries, speak 44 languages — you embody what makes New York and America great already.”

Clinton — fresh off needling Trump last month in a speech at her alma mater, Wellesley College — also tipped her cap to a Yemeni immigrant who’d worked his way from toiling at a nearby deli to graduating from Medgar Evers with honors.

“I’m certainly glad he wasn’t banned from America,” she remarked.

But she had barely begun her rebuke of Trump’s court-stymied travel ban on immigrants from six majority-Muslim nations — stressing the need to “recommit ourselves to the urgent work of protecting the safety and civil rights of all our people, not moving in the opposite direction.”

“But instead we see official actions that turn us against one another and turn us back,” she added. “The Muslim ban is a particularly egregious example — and yes, it is a ban, as the President himself made very clear this week.”

Clinton, decrying the emboldening of white supremacists and a recent “surge in hate crimes across our country,” went on to pay emotional tribute to victims of last month’s Portland attack, which saw a hate-spewing maniac fatally stab two men trying to defend the teenage targets of his rage.

“This showed us the best and the worst of humanity among us,” she said. “We all — not just our nation’s leaders, but all of us — must recommit ourselves to the urgent work of protecting the safety and civil rights of all our people.”

Clinton threw frequent shoutouts to college namesake Medgar Evers, a Mississippi civil rights hero assassinated by a Klansman in 1963. She took the stage after a pre-recorded video message from Evers’ widow, former NAACP chairwoman Myrlie Evers-Williams, who’d backed out of her appearance due to health concerns.

While praising the Evers’ resilience and steadfast support for each other, Clinton again referenced the election.

“I’ve had a few setbacks in my own life ... and losing an election is pretty devastating, especially considering who I lost to,” she said, prompting head shakes from some audience members. “But even that pales in comparison to what Myrlie went through, and frankly what a lot of people go through every day.”

Clinton’s speech drew screams of “We love you, Hillary!” several times. Others wooed and cheered, with at least one person calling, “Go Hillary.” After she spoke, attendees began leaving.

“It was just the right amount (of politics),” 1978 Medgar Evers alum Linda Sylvester, 65, told the Daily News. “She’s a political person and everyone knows she lost the election. She addressed it and went forward ... She tempered it but she didn’t overwhelm it.”

Annette Stuart, 64, called the speech “very much what I expected from her since she’s very eloquent.”

“We did get a bit of politics,” she said. “We didn’t mind because it seemed to pertain to the fact that we’re all immigrants and the need to live together in harmony as different people in one country. It’s very relevant.”

About 15 people outside the arena waved signs protesting Clinton and her husband, who have long been accused of exploiting relief efforts from the 2010 Haiti earthquake to line their pockets.

“The Clinton Foundation stole billions,” Dahoud Andre of the actvist organization Komokoda told The News before the event. “Six billion dollars went through their organization and today, Haitians are still living under tents seven years after the earthquake.”

The former New York senator last stopped by the Crown Heights CUNY school in April 2016 to galvanize support ahead of the New York presidential primary.
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James Comey blasts Trump for 'lies,' says President's response to firing confused him: 'Lordy, I hope there are tapes'

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James Comey blasts Trump for 'lies,' says President's response to firing confused him: 'Lordy, I hope there are tapes'
 WASHINGTON — James Comey said Thursday that President Trump and his team smeared him with “lies” and called his interactions with Trump “disturbing” while questioning the commander-in-chief’s character.

In closely watched testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former FBI director said that Trump's "shifting explanation" for why he was fired "confused me and increasingly concerned me," and slammed the President and his team for attacking the FBI while repeatedly painting the President as a liar.

"The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray," he said. "Those were lies, plain and simple, and I'm so sorry the FBI had to hear them."

Comey said that Trump's comments to him about dropping an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn were a "disturbing thing, very concerning," saying it isn't his place to say whether it amounted to an obstruction of justice but that he's "sure" that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate if it was.

In unvarnished and stunning testimony, Comey made clear that he was convinced Trump wanted to pressure him to leave his adviser alone, that he grew increasingly distrustful of and uneasy with the President as time wore on, and that he strongly believes he was fired because of his handling of the FBI's investigation into Russia.

The former FBI director said he made immediate memos after talking to Trump because he was concerned the President "might lie about the nature of our meetings."

"I knew that there might come a day where I might need a record," he said, "not just to defend myself but to defend the integrity of the FBI."

Comey said he took Trump's comments on Flynn as "direction" that he should drop a probe into Flynn's actions, repeatedly making clear he felt Trump was looking to pressure him to move on from Flynn without explicitly ordering him to do so.

Trump wasn’t the only one to come in for rough treatment from Comey, who also strongly criticized both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.

The former FBI director also criticized his own actions, admitting he wished he would have been firmer with the President in the meeting, calling his own conduct in the moment "slightly cowardly.”

"I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in," he said. "Maybe other people would be stronger in the circumstance but that's how I conducted myself."

And he pointed to Trump's own public remarks to NBC that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire him.

"I take the President at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," he said.
“The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray,” Comey said.

“I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” he later reiterated. “The endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

Comey made it clear that the President's own public remarks concerned him — and even tweaked Trump for his tweet ominously alluding to "tapes" of their private conversations.

"I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes," he said.

And he said that at least one of the series of huge bombshell reports that have dropped in recent weeks came from him directly, saying he asked a friend who teaches at Columbia Law to pass along that information to the New York Times in the hopes that it would spur the appointment of a special prosecutor. Prof. Daniel Richman quickly confirmed he was Comey’s go-between.
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level.

Comey also flayed both of the last attorneys general. He said it was a “reasonable question” why Sessions had played a role in his firing after he’d recused himself from the Russia investigation, and said Lynch had ordered him to refer to the investigation into Clinton’s emails as a “matter,” not an investigation, which “confused and concerned” him and ultimately led to his highly unusual decision to publicly discuss why he was closing the Clinton probe, because he felt he “had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation.”

Some of what Comey didn't say was as telling as what he could. The former FBI director said h expected Sessions would recuse himself from the FBI investigation "for a variety of reasons" but said he couldn't say more in an open setting, suggesting that those reasons are part of the ongoing Russia probe.

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in his opening remarks that he found James Comey's prepared testimony on his interactions with President Trump "disturbing" and "utterly shocking," and warned that Trump's actions raise "separate and troubling" questions about his conduct above and beyond what the committee finds in its Russia probe.

"The President himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or co-opt the Director of the FBI," Warner said in his opening statement. "The testimony that Mr. Comey has submitted for today's hearing is disturbing."

While Warner doesn't specifically weigh in on whether he thinks Trump's actions as detailed by Comey amount to obstruction of justice — an impeachable offense — he hinted that Comey's testimony has opened up new questions along that route.

"This is not how a President of the United States behaves," he said. "Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into those Russia links, Director Comey's firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of."

Senate Republicans mostly avoided criticizing their President — but not all of them held their tongues.

"The president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you as you reported to 'let it go,'" Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Comey during the testimony.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.)’s takeaway at the hearing’s conclusion: “This is a pivotal hearing in our investigation.”
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Pile of evidence proves Trump committed federal crime in attempt to obstruct FBI investigation

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Pile of evidence proves Trump committed federal crime in attempt to obstruct FBI investigation
 The import of former FBI Director James Comey's statement released in advance of his Senate testimony, when considered with all of the surrounding evidence, is clear — our President is guilty of obstruction of justice for endeavoring to obstruct an FBI investigation.

Obstruction of justice is a federal felony outlawing a corrupt endeavor "to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice," which includes FBI investigations.

Comey's advanced statement reveals that on Feb. 14th he was in a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others. At the conclusion of that meeting the President asked everyone to leave, except for Comey. With no one else present, President Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Specifically, the President said, "Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President" and said "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Comey understood the President to be referring to the investigation into Flynn for making false statements to FBI agents in the December 2016 FBI interview about Flynn's meeting with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Comey, while acknowledging he could be wrong, did not understand the President to be requesting that he drop the separate FBI investigation into the alleged collusion during the 2016 election between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

To be clear, to be guilty of obstruction of justice there is no requirement that there be any evidence that Flynn actually made false statements to the FBI or colluded with the Russians during the campaign. The prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant had a corrupt purpose to terminate the FBI investigation. No one can dispute that the President, who has the sole power to terminate the director of the FBI, is in a position to exert enormous influence over an FBI director.

Comey ignored the President's request and did not drop the Flynn investigation. In March, Comey publicly announced to Congress that the FBI was actively investigating the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

On March 30th Comey had a telephone conversation with the President in which the President asked Comey to "find a way to get out that he [Trump] wasn't being investigated" on the alleged Russian collusion.

While it's Comey's word against Trump's, there's plenty of evidence that shows the President is guilty.

Subsequently, prosecutors reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas to Flynn's associates, seeking business records.

On May 9th Trump fired Comey.

This chronology of events demonstrates a strong inference that the ramping up of the investigation caused the President to fire Comey.

While it is just Comey's word against the President about the President's request to halt the FBI investigation into Flynn, President Trump's intent to squelch the FBI investigation into both Flynn's FBI interview and the broader Russian investigation relating to the campaign is overwhelmingly corroborated by other competent unassailable evidence. The most powerful proof is Trump’s own admissions showing that he fired Comey to stop the FBI Russian investigation.

The President admitted to Lester Holt on the NBC Nightly News that he was thinking of "this Russian thing" when he fired Comey. The President also told the Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting, according to an official White House memo, that he [Trump] "faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off" with the firing of Comey whom he referred to as "a nut job." Around that same time the President engaged in a not so subtle witness tampering attempt (a violation of a separate federal obstruction of justice statute) by threatening Comey in a tweet that he "better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

If all of this wasn't enough, there are also the newspaper reports of the President's overtures to National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Although both refused to testify before Congress Wednesday on their conversations with the President, President Trump reportedly separately asked both to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and to assist in shutting down the FBI investigation.

That they both testified that they were not pressured to act inappropriately by the President does not detract from the value of their potential testimony. The focus on an obstruction case is not whether pressure was exerted. The focus rather is on whether the President's statements to both gentlemen evidence his intent to stop the FBI investigation. There is little doubt that both officials, if subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, would reveal these conversations before a federal grand jury. Neither official could hide behind executive privilege, which does not apply to the President's statements made in furtherance of a criminal scheme to obstruct justice.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also refused to answer questions Wednesday because of the Department of Justice's policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations, will undoubtedly cooperate fully with Muller's investigation. His testimony would reveal facts surrounding the memo the President requested him to write about Comey's public pronouncements on the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Initially, the White House used this memo as its justification for firing Comey. The White House, including the Vice President, relied on this memo to claim that Comey was fired because of his public statements in July and October 2016 about the Clinton email investigation. That candidate Trump had enthusiastically applauded these same actions by Comey during the campaign clearly demonstrates that this proffered reason for the firing was nothing more than a pretext to rid the President of the two FBI investigations. Further investigation of the facts surrounding the White House's creation and use of this pretext may yield further evidence of Trump's intent to obstruct.

Given this overwhelming evidence of the President's violation of a serious federal felony, the ball is now with the House of Representatives, which has the Constitutional duty to determine whether the President has committed "high Crimes or Misdemeanors" justifying impeachment. Obstruction of an FBI investigation, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, is undoubtedly a high crime. The question is — will the House, controlled by the President's own party, have the courage to take action?

Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, was an assistant special Watergate prosecutor. He is a partner at Dorsey, a law firm.
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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey to shed light on awkward meetings with Trump, says President wanted a favor; ‘I need loyalty’

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Former FBI Director James Comey to shed light on awkward meetings with Trump, says President wanted a favor; ‘I need loyalty’
 James Comey sat down with then President-elect Trump in the gilded confines of his Fifth Ave. penthouse in January to discuss salacious allegations and details about Russian connections floating around in an unverified dossier.

It was the first time the two men were alone in a room together, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The former FBI director doesn’t say exactly how Trump responded to the awkward briefing, which touched on Trump’s travels to Moscow and reports involving Russian hookers, but says that “based on President-elect Trump’s reaction,” he assured him that his personal conduct isn’t under investigation.

Comey wrote up a record of the meeting on a laptop in the car as soon as he got out of the building, a habit he would continue after his three one-on-one encounters with Trump.

Comey will testify under oath of Thursday about his conversations with the President during his much-anticipated appearance before the Senate intelligence committee.

He is expected to answer questions about his dealings with a President who has been hounded by FBI probes, congressional hearings, damaging leaks from the highest levels of government and the appointment of a special counsel to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and Trump associates.

Trump, bogged down by the monsoon of Russian interference in the presidential election that led to his winning the White House, reportedly asked then FBI Director Comey in March to “lift the cloud” over his administration.

On Thursday, Comey may cause that storm to intensify.

The former fed will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump demanded his loyalty in the face of the ongoing investigations into Russia’s cyber campaign and how the President pushed him to personally clear his name.

He will also tell lawmakers that Trump asked him privately to drop a probe into a former top aide and about how meetings with the President left him feeling uncomfortable and “concerned,” according to prepared remarks released by the committee.

Comey, fired by Trump last month, will recount his encounters with the President in his opening statement, beginning with his Jan. 6 sitdown at Trump Tower in Manhattan in which he briefed Trump about the unverified dossier containing potentially damaging material about the businessman.

The meeting was held the same day that a U.S. intelligence report on Russian hacking was declassified and released to the public, showing Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at swaying the election in Trump’s favor.

Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA head John Brennan had gone to Trump’s Midtown home to brief him on their findings that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.”

The other intelligence leaders asked Comey, who was the only one staying on in his position, to personally brief Trump on the raunchier aspects of the unverified information one-on-one so as not to embarrass the President-to-be.

He also assured Trump that the intelligence community did not consider the information to be entirely reliable, informing the President-elect that the FBI “did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him.”

In another notable, yet awkward, exchange, Comey described a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 when Trump held his future as FBI director over his head.

“A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,’ ” said Comey, who’d expected other people to be at the dinner. “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.”

When Trump returned to the topic at the end of the meal, Comey only promised “honesty.”

“He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty,’ ” the statement said. “I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.’ ”

Comey then added that, “it is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further.”

During a May 12 press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that Trump had asked Comey for loyalty.

“No,” Spicer said when asked if “the President implored him to pledge his loyalty to the President.”

Comey’s remarks paint a picture of a man so uncomfortable with his interactions with the President that he began keeping written memos of their private discussions.
Trump shakes hands with Comey on Jan. 22 in the White House.

He said he never did so with former President Barack Obama because they’d only spoken in private twice — and one of those was for Obama to say goodbye in late 2016.

Comey said he spoke privately with Trump nine times in four months.

He said he believed Trump was trying to create a “patronage relationship” with him and described in detail an Oval Office meeting in which Trump urged him not to investigate ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials.

Comey was part of a group giving Trump a counter-terrorism briefing on Feb. 14, but the President asked him to stay behind at the end. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lingered, but Trump shooed him away. Senior adviser Jared Kushner also tried to stay, but was asked to leave. A grandfather clock ticked in the corner, Comey recalls.

“The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, ‘He is a good guy and has been through a lot,’ ” Comey says of the one-on-one meeting.

The Oval Office exchange came one day after Flynn had resigned for misleading Vice President Pence about conversations he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December.

At one point during the encounter, chief of staff Reince Priebus stuck his head in the door by the grandfather clock, a group of people waiting behind him, and Trump waves him off.

“He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ I replied only that ‘he is a good guy,’ ” Comey says.

Flynn is reportedly central to the FBI’s investigations.

During the campaign and after, Flynn received money from Turkish and Russian sources for lobbying and other efforts. He informed White House counsel Donald McGahn in January that he was under investigation, according to reports.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified last month that she warned the White House that Flynn had lied about his contact with Kislyak 18 days before his ouster.

Comey says he was concerned by Trump’s remarks about the former four-star general.

“I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls,” the remarks say. “Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”

That’s the closest Comey comes to addressing whether he believed Trump was trying to obstruct justice in his ongoing — and highly unusual — private conversations with the FBI director.

Comey said he immediately prepared memos about the conversations and told top FBI officials about them, and that the inner circle “decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed” because he expected Sessions to soon recuse himself and because the incoming deputy attorney general had not yet been confirmed.

After the meeting where Trump brought up the Flynn investigation, Comey says he asked Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump again.

The testimony also confirms Trump’s claim that Comey told him three times he wasn’t personally under investigation, though given all the other details Comey offers, that may be small consolation for the President.

In two subsequent phone calls in late March and early April, Trump asked Comey to “get out” that he wasn’t a target of the investigation and to help “lift the cloud” that hovered over the administration due to the probe, after returning obsessively to deny that the dossier prepared by a former British spy accusing him of having deep ties with Russia — and salacious dealings with Russian prostitutes — were categorically false.

“He described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud,’” Comey says.

The former director responded by telling Trump that the agency was investigating the matter as quickly as possible.

“The President went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him,” he writes.

Several other Trump associates have been tied to the investigation into possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russia including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the President's son-in-law Kushner.
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the 'Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act' in the Hart Senate office Building in Washington on Wednesday.

Comey also details how he asked the Department of Justice for help dealing with Trump and never received a response.

The pair's final conversation again descended into awkwardness. Comey asked Trump to contact the DOJ and to go through the proper channels rather than contacting him directly about the "cloud" over the administration.

"He said he would do that and added, 'Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.'"

But Comey did not know.

"I did not reply or ask him what he meant by 'that thing.' I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended. That was the last time I spoke with President Trump." 

Trump didn’t pressure just Comey himself — a report in The Washington Post this week said that he urged Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to urge the G-man to back off of Flynn.

The pair staunchly refused to answer questions about conversations they had with Trump in testimony before the Senate Intelligence panel Wednesday, but said they’d never been order to do anything illegal.

Comey’s testimony before the same panel on Thursday will be his first public comments since he was let go.

While the White House initially offered conflicting reasons for Comey’s firing, including his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Trump said he had been planning the dismissal — and that the Russia investigation played a role in his decision.

The day after Comey’s firing, Trump reportedly bragged about his actions to Russian officials in the Oval Office.

“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump told Kislyak and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, according to The New York Times. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
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Eric Trump says Democrats ‘not even people’ for challenging father

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Eric Trump says Democrats ‘not even people’ for challenging father
 Eric Trump thinks Democrats are “not even people” anymore.

The First Son, appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” Tuesday night, said slammed the party as a whole for blocking the President’s agenda.

“I’ve never seen hatred like this,” he said. “To me, they’re not even people. It’s so, so sad. Morality’s just gone, morals have flown out the window and we deserve so much better than this as a country.”

Eric, who runs Trump Organization alongside big brother Donald Trump Jr., added that Democrats were blocking his father’s plans because they didn’t have ones of their own.

“They lost the (2016 presidential) election that they should have won because they spent seven times the amount of money that my father spent,” he added.

He also took shots at Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez — a former Labor Secretary and assistant attorney general for civil rights — without directly naming him.

“You see the head of the DNC, who is a total whack job,” he said. “There’s no leadership there.”

The real estate scion’s remarks came the same day as a report that alleged he funneled charity proceeds into the Trump Organization.

Donors at a charity golf event gave more than $500,000 for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, but some of the money then went to other Trump charities, Forbes reported.

Eric fired back Tuesday night at one critic on Twitter: “I have raised $16.3 million dollars for terminally ill children at @StJude with less than a 12.3% expense ratio. What have you done today?!”
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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

City Council passes $85.2B budget that would offer immigrants convicted of crimes lawyers based on income

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City Council passes $85.2B budget that would offer immigrants convicted of crimes lawyers based on income
 The City Council moved to force Mayor de Blasio to offer city-funded lawyers to immigrants facing deportation even if they’re convicted of serious crimes, as it voted to pass a new $85.2 billion budget Tuesday.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito inserted legal language into the budget mandating that the city only consider income when determining who is eligible for $26 million earmarked for legal services for immigrants — meaning de Blasio could not exclude immigrants convicted of 170 serious crimes from the program, as he had vowed to do.

The last minute maneuver caps a weeks-long fight between de Blasio and Mark-Viverito over the money, which was not resolved before they announced a deal on the budget late last Friday.

“It’s incomprehensible that Mayor de Blasio would turn his back on immigrant families and the City’s most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Mark-Viverito’s spokeswoman Robin Levine.

The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, which provides lawyers to people fighting deportation, “has become a national model that has helped stop hundreds of unjust deportations and keep families together,” she said. “The Speaker and City Council are fully committed to defending the integrity of this vital program and to upholding due process for all New Yorkers, which is why we have amended the budget to ensure continued, unrestricted access to legal services for all detained immigrants facing deportation.”

Mark-Viverito refused to answer repeated questions from reporters about her decision as she left City Hall after the vote.

De Blasio’s office appeared to be blindsided by the move, and some Council members said they did not know the language was inserted until they arrived to cast their votes, though others were in on the decision.

De Blasio could veto the condition, which the Council would then have a chance to override. He could also decline to spend the money altogether, but according to the Council, cannot legally spend the money in violation of the condition.

"There is a clear, respectful difference of opinion between us and the Speaker on this issue. Our position remains unchanged. We expect this to be resolved during the contracting process," said de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein.

The mayor offered up $16.4 million for free legal services in his executive budget in April — but said people convicted of 170 offenses, including violent crimes and other serious felonies, would not be eligible. Mark-Viverito quickly cried foul, saying the family unity project had operated for years without such restrictions and shouldn’t add them now. The crimes are the same ones that the city agrees to turn an immigrant over to the feds for.

In the budget deal announced Friday, the Council chipped in $10 million of its own money on top of de Blasio’s pot of money to continue the program without restrictions, but de Blasio stressed he controls the contracting process for all the cash.

The budget bills passed Tuesday added the language, “Eligibility for legal representation provided...for unrepresented, detained individuals in removal proceedings occurring in immigration court in New York City shall be based solely on income.”

Council members conferred after the vote and it appeared the mayor was “not folding” and the issue could be headed for a legal showdown down the road, a source said.

The $85.2 billion budget is up $3.1 billion since last year, and represents a 22% spike since the year before de Blasio and Mark-Viverito took office.

It adds money for summer jobs for youth, emergency food assistance, and a property tax exemption for veterans who fought in a war.

Critics say spending has grown too fast.

“The Mayor and City Council piled on the spending at every turn of this budget process. Their savings claims are built on budget gimmicks, the Mayor’s “hiring freeze” is fake, and even their reserves don’t reach the minimum recommendation,” said Reclaim New York executive director Brandon Muir.
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NYPD report reveals horrifying spike in subway sex crimes over last three years

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NYPD report reveals horrifying spike in subway sex crimes over last three years
 ALBANY — Incidents of so-called subway grinding have jumped more than 50% in the past three years, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Using data obtained from the NYPD, the report released by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) revealed that reported incidents of sex crimes on the subway system — including sexual abuse, forcible touching and public lewdness — increased from 620 in 2014 to 941 in 2016.

As of May 28, there had been 434 reported sex crimes in the subway system during 2017, a 9% increase from the same period a year ago.

Savino released the report as the Senate this week is expected to again approve her bill making it a felony to repeatedly make contact with transit riders without their consent for the “sole purpose of sexual gratification.”

The bill has repeatedly passed the Senate only to flounder in the Assembly.

"While we pass my legislation over and over again, it's horrifying these disgusting crimes are not met with appropriate punishment because the Assembly fails to protect straphangers,” Savino said. “Without tougher penalties in place, serial offenders will continue to victimize passengers on the train and this issue must be taken seriously."

Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn) said his committee would review the legislation again but stressed his belief that the current misdemeanor penalties are sufficient.

Most judges, Lentol added, do not even sentence offenders to the maximum one-year sentence called for under the current law.
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White House won’t stand behind Jeff Sessions, who reportedly suggested he could resign

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White House won’t stand behind Jeff Sessions, who reportedly suggested he could resign
 The White House did not stand up for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday amid reports that tensions with President Trump led the nation's top prosecutor to suggest he could resign.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered no reassurances when asked about the alleged rift during his daily briefing, repeatedly saying “I have not had a discussion with (Trump) about that."

The opaque answers came amid questions about the relationship between Sessions and Trump, after a New York Times report on Monday said the President was losing faith in the former Alabama senator, one of his earliest campaign supporters.

According to the Times, Trump turned sour on Sessions months ago after the attorney general recused himself from the criminal investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to the Russian government.

Sessions stepped away after reports revealed that he spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during the 2016 campaign and did not reveal those conversations when asked during his confirmation hearing.

Trump apparently believes that Sessions’ recusal set the stage for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to ultimately take over the criminal probe.

The investigation fell into Mueller’s hands after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May, and the head of the Justice Department was already unable to take Comey’s place.

Relations between Trump and the Justice Department head has become especially tense ahead of Comey's planned testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, and sparked Sessions to say he could resign, ABC reported Tuesday evening.

The report cited sources saying that Trump had repeatedly "lashed out" at the former senator in private meetings.

Trump on Monday also fired off tweets blasting Sessions’ Justice Department for its handling of the court battles over Trump’s travel bans.

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C...The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court — & seek much tougher version!” Trump wrote across two tweets.

The messages were unusual not just because the President was criticizing his own Justice Department, but also because Trump, not Sessions, has the final say over how the executive orders are presented.

Capitol Hill was left baffled by Trump's attacks on the department.

"I don't believe Trump colluded with the Russians because I don't think he colludes with his own staff," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) quipped Tuesday.
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Monday, 5 June 2017

Grand Canyon at risk as Arizona officials ask Trump to end uranium mining ban

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Grand Canyon at risk as Arizona officials ask Trump to end uranium mining ban
A coalition of influential officials in Arizona and Utah is urging the Trump administration to consider rolling back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

They argue that the 20-year ban that came into effect in 2012 is unlawful and stifles economic opportunity in the mining industry. But supporters of the ban say new mining activity could increase the risk of uranium-contaminated water flowing into the canyon. Past mining in the region has left hundreds of polluted sites among Arizona’s Navajo population, leading to serious health consequences, including cancer and kidney failure.

The new appeal to the Trump administration appears in the draft of a letter expected to be sent on Monday to the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, by the Mohave County board of supervisors, whose region borders the north side of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Similar letters are being drawn up by other regional leaders in neighboring county governments in southern Utah, to be sent to Washington by the end of the week, according to officials.

The Mohave County leaders also plan to dispatch a second letter on Monday asking the federal government to scrap national monument protections for lands of natural wonder “throughout Arizona”, claiming their designation is unconstitutional and prevents economic development of coal, oil and gas deposits. Utah leaders will follow with letters requesting the government shrink national monuments in southern Utah, such as Bears Ears and Grand Escalante, in order to open up a greater area for mineral exploitation, the Guardian has learned.

The battle to restore mining activity near the Grand Canyon is part of broader push by conservatives to roll back protections on America’s 640m acres of public land. Earlier this year, Congress reversed the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” rule, an Obama-era initiative that gave the public greater input on how land should be used. At the same time, Zinke has ended the moratorium on federal coal leases while pledging to open up public lands to greater oil and gas extraction. Trump has also ordered Zinke to review 27 national monument designations and report as to whether some parks might be reversed or reduced in size.
The letters come amid fears that the Trump administration will favor the powerful mining lobby, increasing the risk, particularly, of uranium contaminating water flowing into the Grand Canyon.

As threats to America’s public lands multiply, the Guardian is launching a new series called This Land is Your Land to explore the future of America’s public lands and the fight to protect them. As part of that effort, the Guardian is asking readers to help raise $50,000 to support coverage of this issue.

Trump’s review of national monuments has increased fears among environmental advocates that the Mohave County leaders are pushing at an open door. Many fear the administration will favor the powerful mining lobby over concerns from the tourism industry and the Native Americans who live in the region, such as the Havasupai, whose reservation lies west of the canyon.

Carletta Tilousi of the Havasupai tribal council told the Guardian: “We are already one of the smallest tribes in the country with just 775 people, and our stories of living down in the Grand Canyon go back to the beginning of time.

“We are faced with the potential dangers of uranium contamination into our sole water supply, (local) testing in other areas has already shown traces of uranium from mining in the Grand Canyon region, and I don’t think we would be able to survive an environmental catastrophe here, I just don’t know where we would go,” she added. The Havasupai territory is renowned for its turquoise waterfalls, fed by the water source now under threat.

The Mohave County board’s letter says that “the mining of uranium does not affect ground water nor destroy the natural resources of the land”.

The new letters to Zinke are on the Mohave board’s public agenda and will be presented for final approval at a supervisors’ meeting scheduled for Monday morning.

Board chairman Gary Watson told the Guardian on Friday that he was confident of winning a majority of votes among the five county supervisors.

“I think the Trump administration is very interested in looking at the situation. A number of companies are very anxious to get in there and start extracting uranium. There is no danger,” he said.

He plans to follow up those requests within six months with an appeal to the federal government to open up national forest land in his region for logging, he said.

The mining request claims there is enough high-grade uranium under the largely rural area known as the Arizona Strip to the north of the canyon “to provide power generation to the state of California for 20 years”.

The letter also points out that uranium has many military uses and could inject $29bn into the area economy over 42 years. “This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area … These [uranium] deposits represent the last available use of our public lands for economic growth … Environmental laws already on the books will protect the public from damage to the Grand Canyon watershed,” the letter says.

That and the letter requesting the lifting of national monument titles for the Vermilion Cliffs area in northern Arizona, Parashant, which straddles the Arizona-Utah border, and the Sonoran desert near Phoenix, were signed by Watson and were already initialed by the county attorney and county manager.

When Barack Obama’s interior secretary, Ken Salazar, banned new mining claims on a million acres of land surrounding the Grand Canyon for 20 years in 2012, he said it was “the right approach for this priceless American landscape” to protect if for the 5 million annual visitors to Grand Canyon national park, nearby Native American communities and millions more who rely on the Colorado river flowing through it.

Although there are thousands of older claims for uranium in the area, related regulations prohibit speculative drilling for the deep-seated mineral, according to Ted Zukoski, a lawyer with campaign group Earthjustice.

That factor and an extended slump in the uranium market has kept mining largely at bay recently.
The Sonoran desert near Phoenix, Arizona. Mohave County leaders have signed letters urging Trump to rescind national monument status for this and other parks.

But Salazar’s ban brought a legal challenge from the National Mining Association and others, and a decision is expected on that from the ninth circuit court of appeals soon.

And work began in 2015 to reopen the dormant Canyon Mine six miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, close to tourist areas and water sources for the Havasupai people, who have lived at the bottom of the canyon for millennia.

Obama was lobbied in vain to name a large area around the Grand Canyon a national monument in 2016, which would have stopped all mining permanently.

During that debate it emerged that the libertarian Koch brothers were reported to be channeling funds to the pro-development lobby in Arizona.

 Mohave County previously created the Arizona-Utah local economic coalition alongside four counties in southern Utah – Kane, Washington, San Juan and Garfield – and letters will be sent to Zinke from the coalition and from the individual counties later this week, supporting Mohave’s request to lift the uranium ban and also asking for the right to exploit minerals within national monument areas in the region, Jim Matson, Kane county commissioner, told the Guardian last Friday.

“These restrictions have been opportunity killers. Economic development on our public lands is terribly important,” he said.

Opponents are skeptical.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Roger Clark, program director of the Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental campaign group. “Every time we look for evidence we find contamination, 100% of the time.”

The devastating health impacts of mining on Arizona’s Navajo population have left many wary of the industry. “I don’t think we have certainty on the safety of uranium mining. We’ve seen the terrible legacy on the Navajo reservation. The industry argues procedures have changed and are completely safe now, but I’m not convinced,” said Flagstaff councilwoman Celia Barotz.

Clark argued that the Mohave County board’s estimates of economic benefits from uranium mining were “grossly inflated” and far outweighed by the risks and the eyesore of mining works and truck traffic.

Coconino County, adjacent to Mohave County and including Grand Canyon national park, rejected a uranium mining application on public lands in 2013, saying the industry had created “significant risks” to public health with “no measurable benefits” and estimated that the boost of any jobs created would be canceled out with loss of tourism revenue.
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Ted Cruz’s scornful college roommate goes on another Twitter rampage after meeting his wife Heidi

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Ted Cruz’s scornful college roommate goes on another Twitter rampage after meeting his wife Heidi
 Craig Mazin is still "cruzin" for a bruisin' from his freshman year nemesis.

Sen. Ted Cruz's scornful college roommate launched a hilarious Twitter tirade Sunday night in which recounted a chance meeting with the Texas Republican's wife.

Mazin, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, shared a room with Cruz during their freshman year at Princeton University in 1988 — a year, he has previously written, that fueled a lifelong dislike of the eventual presidential candidate.

Throughout the campaign Mazin resurfaced embarrassing stories about Cruz, providing detailed tales on Twitter of the Texas lawmakers problems with women.
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Donald Trump’s slight of Gay Pride Month shows White House effort to erase LGBT community

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Donald Trump’s slight of Gay Pride Month shows White House effort to erase LGBT community
 Donald Trump is being slammed for failing to recognize June for Gay Pride — but it’s not surprising. It’s sad.

Trump’s silence — something every member of the gay community knows is deadly — is right in step with his stance on LGBT community since Day One of his presidency, when the Trump White House removed all reference to LGBT people from

It’s no Final Solution, but it is an Initial Solution: Erasing people is one way to destroy them.

Trump has built silence into the 2020 Census, a tool used to count and take stock of the American people. But this White House doesn’t want the decennial survey to ask about LGBTQ identity — because he doesn’t want us counted.

Trump’s appointments and policies speak for themselves on LGBT. The President has endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act, a national version of state “religious freedom” bills. That legislation, if passed, would allow businesses and other entities to deny service to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs.

So they get to use their religious beliefs to deny me mine.

More concretely, the Department of Education and Department of Justice blocked the Obama-era protection of transgender students from discrimination and harassment in schools.

And then when asked if a rash of attacks on LGBT community centers throughout the nation were connected to that federal attack on gay rights, Trump’s mouthpiece Sean Spicer shrugged: “I think that that would be a stretch, to say the least.”

Funny for a White House that believes in trickle-down economics — but this was just trickle-down hate. Of course haters are just following the President — bias, like crap, rolls downhill.

So, yes, Trump is being pilloried for not even posting a boilerplate press release to mark June as Gay Pride Month — which it has been for decades.

But, worse, the White House doesn’t even want to acknowledge gays at all. A search on on Monday for “gay pride” and “lgbt pride” got this response: “Sorry, no results found.
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Kellyanne Conway complains about media ‘obsession’ with President Trump’s tweets

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Kellyanne Conway complains about media ‘obsession’ with President Trump’s tweets
 Quit caring about his tweets — he’s just the President of the United States.

Kellyanne Conway on Monday protested the media’s supposed “obsession” with President Trump’s tweets after his response to the London terror attack included a misleading attack on London’s mayor.

“This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as President...” the top White House aide said during a tense interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“That’s his preferred method of communication with the American people,” countered co-host Craig Melvin.

“That’s not true,” Conway said.

“Well, he hasn’t given an interview in three weeks,” Melvin replied. “So lately it has been his preferred method.”

Trump’s initial Twitter statements after Saturday’s London Bridge bloodbath — for which the White House issued no official response — included plugs for his court-challenged travel ban and a critical tweet taking London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s remarks out of context.

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted.

Khan, the city’s first Muslim mayor, had merely advised Londoners not to be alarmed by heightened police presence in the streets.

But Conway on NBC denied the President’s tweet had been a “political attack,” pivoting to slam the apparent “one-sided report.”
Flowers and messages of love and unity were left near the Borough Market on June 4, 2017, the day after the attacks terrorized London and left multiple dead and dozens injured.

“Here’s the other side: that the President stands firm with the people of the UK,” she said. “He spoke to the prime minister of the entire country, Theresa May, that same night.”

“I’m gonna not let him be seen as the perpetrator here,” Conway added. “For every time you said ‘Russia,’ imagine if you said ‘ISIS.’ Every time you say ‘Twitter,’ imagine if you said ‘terrorist.’ We would have a different type of vigilance.”

Pressed by co-anchor Savannah Guthrie on whether Trump owed Khan an apology for the inaccurate tweet, Conway cited a dubious statistic on the Islamic State and declared she was “not going to allow” shifting blame onto her boss.

“We’ve got the 23rd ISIS-inspired or directed attack taking innocent lives; children in Manchester, children in Nice, and we want to ... put some blameworthiness on President Trump,” said the former pollster. “I’m just not going to allow it.”
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Cuomo to target House GOPers in NY

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Cuomo to target House GOPers in NY
 Here is an expanded version of the second item from my "Albany Insider" from Monday's print editions:

Gov. Cuomo for the first time will be actively involving himself in the effort to flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats by focusing on key races in New York.

Though the mid-term elections are in 2018, Cuomo will kickoff the campaign Tuesday with a rally in Washington Square Park.

“New York is on the front lines against Washington's assault on progressive values,” Cuomo said in a message sent out by the Nassau County Democratic Party Sunday afternoon. “Join us for a rally to kick off the start of New York State's coordinated campaign to take back the House district by district.”

Insiders say there are at least six seats in New York that could be in play, which is about a quarter of those needed to flip control of the House.

A Cuomo spokesman had no comment.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs confirmed Tuesday's event. He said the Nassau Dems expect to send at least a busload of people to the rally.

"He’s trying to get people charged up and i think it’s good," Jacobs said of Cuomo.

Cuomo has traditonally endorsed different Democratic House candidates, but has had little involvement in the campaigns.

Sources say he's ready to do more in the coming year, including likely using the state party and its funds to help push Democratic House candidates.

Cuomo, who will be at the top of the ticket in 2018, has also been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for 2020. Some say that effort--should be take the plunge--would be greatly aided if he is seen as having helped try to flip the House by netting a number of  Demoratic House seats in New York.

Of late, he's hammered congressional Republicans as right-wing zealots.

Among New York Republican incumbents who could be targetted are upstate freshman Reps. John Faso, of Columbia County, and Claudia Tenney of Oneida County as well as Elise Stefanik, an Essex GOPer who is in her second term.

Cuomo is also like to target Rep. Chris Collins, a Buffalo-area Republican.

Cuomo has been openly warring with Collins and Faso over the controversial House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that both supported. The two Republicans put forward an amendment to the bill that would shift the local cost of Medicaid outside New York City on to the state.

Jacobs said .he expects at least two seats on Long Island to be in play--those belonging to Reps. Lee Zeldin, of Suffolk County, and Peter King, whose district includes parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

King's district also includes a longtime Republican Assembly seat that recently just went Democratic in a special election.

"We’re going to be very aggressive (in next year's congressional races), particularly here on Long Island," Jacobs said.
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Friday, 2 June 2017

Comedian Kathy Griffin says her career is over after gory Trump photo

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Comedian Kathy Griffin says her career is over after gory Trump photo
Comedian Kathy Griffin tearfully apologized in a Friday press conference for posing with a fake bloodied and severed head depicting U.S. President Donald Trump, saying that she felt her career was now over and that Trump "broke" her.

Griffin has lost sponsorships and jobs, including her role as co-host of CNN's New Year's Eve coverage with journalist Anderson Cooper, since a photograph and video from the shoot appeared on social media on Tuesday.

President Trump said the image of Griffin with the gory mask resembling him was "sick" and that it had traumatized his family, especially his youngest son, 11-year-old Barron. Trump's oldest son, Donald Jr., called for employers to drop the comedian.

“I don’t think I will have a career after this. I’m going to be honest, (Trump) broke me,” said Griffin, 56, a two-time Emmy-winning performer known for her deliberately provocative brand of humor. She added that she had received death threats.
Comedian Kathy Griffin (C) cries during a news conference in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California,

Griffin reiterated the apology she posted on social media late on Tuesday, but remained defiant, saying, "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump, he's a bully," adding that she intended to continue making jokes about the president.

She also described herself as a provocative woman who has often had to deal with older white men in positions of power.

"What's happening to me has never happened ever, in the history of this great country, which is that a sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the first lady are personally, I feel, trying to ruin my life - forever,” she said.

Griffin said the photo was intended to mock Trump's comments during the presidential campaign, when he told CNN that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her - wherever" when she moderated a 2015 presidential debate.

Trump's remark was widely interpreted as referring to menstrual blood, implying that Kelly was in an unfriendly mood because she was menstruating.

At his daily briefing on Friday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to respond to Griffin's remarks, saying that the president, the first lady and the Secret Service had made clear their views on the photo.

Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman, criticized Griffin on Twitter after her appearance on Friday, saying that Griffin had had a nervous breakdown about "misogyny & mean white men" at the press conference.

The U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for presidential security, has opened an inquiry into the photo of Griffin posing with the severed-head replica.
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Corporations are taking a stand against Trump’s decision to leave climate agreement

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 President Trump’s decision to pull the United States from the Paris climate agreement had been met with scrutiny — even from the companies he said the choice is going to help.

Corporations are taking a stand against Trump’s decision to leave climate agreement
Several of the largest U.S. companies — such as Apple, Exxon Mobile and Ford Motor Company — have pledged to either stick to the climate accord or continue cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.

Elon Musk, head of electric car company Tesla, and Disney boss Bob Iger both left the President’s advisory councils in wake of the exit.

The firm stance against the businessman-turned-politician comes after 28 companies signed an open letter to the President last month urging him not to leave the agreement.

That’s not to say all American businesses have opposed the decision.
A man demonstrates against U.S. President Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower in New York, U.S.,

Companies such as Murray Energy have backed Trump’s decision as good for the U.S. economy, and coal company Peabody Energy Corp. slammed the 2015 climate agreement as bad for power consumption, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But many companies have already turned to alternative energy sources years ago and have faced pressure by their consumers to go green.

Apple CEO Tim Cook fired off an email to his employees after the President’s decision, which was obtained by Axios and pledges that the tech behemoth will keep its course.

“I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment,” wrote Cook, who added he tried to talk Trump out of the decision.

He continued: “Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”

 “disappointed” by Trump’s announcement, but “we hope there is a way for the accord to move forward with the U.S. at the able.”

The company said in the statement that it planned to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030.

GE in recent years has focused its resources on renewable energy. The company has poured $20 billion into its energy reduction program since 2005, according to its website.

“Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government,” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt tweeted Thursday.

The Boston-headquartered company has pledged another $10 billion to that effort by 2020, and lower greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater consumption by 20% from their 2011 levels.

The computer giant, which has been committed to lowering greenhouse gases since 2007, posted a lengthy statement on its website in a pledge to keep with the Paris agreement.

 important for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, IBM supported — and still supports — U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement,” Wayne Balta, vice president of environmental affairs, wrote in the statement. “IBM takes our commitment to the environment seriously, and will continue to focus on ways we can reduce our own operational impact on climate as well as helping our clients do likewise.”

Investors in the largest U.S.-headquartered oil company have favored staying in Paris agreement — even though its board of directors have had qualms with it.

Shareholders Wednesday — a day before Trump’s announcement — voted 62% in favor of keeping better tabs on how the company affected climate change.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods said after the vote that the board would consider the non-binding measure. His predecessor as Exxon chief, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had been urging the President to stay in the agreement.

At least two of Detroit’s Big Three automakers signaled they still wanted to cut carbon emissions.

Ford, in wake of the announcement, said "climate change is real, and remains deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities. Our commitment to sustainability is why we're investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup," CNBC reported.

GM, in a statement to the business network, added to was also committed to addressing climate change — pointing to the success of its all-electric car, the Chevy Bolt.

"International agreements aside, we remain committed to creating a better environment," the company told CNBC.
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