Connect with us

Politics

Trump’s top infrastructure aide is departing White House

Published

on

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top infrastructure adviser is leaving the administration, a White House official told NBC News Wednesday, signaling another setback to the president’s plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, tunnels and bridges.

The adviser, DJ Gribbin, is leaving to pursue “new opportunities,” the official said.

Gribbin spent much of 2017 helping to formulate Trump’s infrastructure initiative, which was formally released in February after months of delays.

 DJ Gribbin at a Bloomberg finance briefing in New York in 2011. Jin Lee / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The plan proposed $200 billion in new federal spending that the White House said would ultimately spur a $1.5 trillion investment over the next 10 years. It included $100 billion in “incentives” that would require local and state governments to pony up big bucks or partner with private companies to unlock federal dollars.

Democrats ripped the proposal — which has since stalled in Congress — for its outsize reliance on local and private funding.

Trump himself has appeared resigned in recent weeks to the fact that action on infrastructure — which had been a central theme of his State of the Union address in January — would be further delayed, saying at an event in Ohio last week that progress on rebuilding would “probably have to wait until after” the midterm elections.

Gribbin’s exit is just the latest in a wave of departures from the White House.

Within the past few weeks, Trump has replaced his national security adviser, secretary of state and head of the National Economic Council.

Hallie Jackson reported from Washington, and Adam Edelman from New York.

Source link

Politics

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Covid book deal worth more than $5.1 million

Published

on

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being paid more than $5.1 million for his book on leadership during the coronavirus crisis, his office said Monday.

The Democratic governor and his office had for months refused to disclose how much he was paid for the book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

State Attorney General Letitia James’ office has been investigating whether the governor misused state resources to write and promote the book.

The governor’s office released the book deal information Monday, when Cuomo released his taxes and filed his state financial disclosure form.

“The notable change from year to year is income from ‘American Crisis,'” Cuomo’s director of communications, Rich Azzopardi, said in a statement.

He said Cuomo was paid $3.12 million last year, and will be paid another $2 million over the next two years.

‎”Net income from the $3,120,000 million payment less expenses and taxes is $1,537,508,” Azzopardi said.

Of the remaining $1.5 million, Cuomo “donated a third to the United Way of New York State for state-wide COVID relief and vaccination effort, and is giving the remainder in a trust for his three daughters equally who worked with the Governor during this pandemic and did what he calls ‘tireless and effective work for all New Yorkers’ and gave him ‘the strength and love to make it through the crisis every day,’” Azzopardi said.

The sum Cuomo is getting from Crown publishing far exceeds the $225,000-a-year salary he makes as governor.

The book, which went on sale in October, has also landed Cuomo in legal trouble.

Last month, the state comptroller’s office authorized the state A.G. to investigate whether Cuomo used staffers and state resources to assist in writing the book, which is prohibited by state law.

Cuomo has insisted that any work by state employees on the book was voluntary. A spokesman has said any work on the book was “in compliance with state ethics laws and done on their personal time.”

James’s office is also investigating multiple sexual harassment allegations against the third-term governor.

Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged that he may have acted in ways that made people feel uncomfortable. He initially said that was unintentional and apologized, but has more recently said he’d done nothing wrong. He’s pushed back against calls from the vast majority of New York’s congressional delegation that he resign, saying he won’t bow to “cancel culture.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Biden tries to navigate shifting Democratic politics on Israel

Published

on

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is facing down pressure from progressives to take a heavier hand with Israel amid its latest hostilities with the Palestinians.

While Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that Israel has “a special responsibility to protect civilians in the course of its self-defense,” U.S. officials have not called on their Israeli counterparts to alter or halt their response to Palestinian rocket fire.

That puts the administration at odds with the growing set of Democratic voters and elected officials who are casting a critical eye — and harsh language — at Israel. Those voices reflect a gradual but noticeable shift in the willingness of Democrats to challenge Israeli policy over the last dozen years.

“There is a desire for a more even-handed approach,” said Logan Bayroff, vice president of communications for J-Street, a progressive group that wants the U.S. government to call for an immediate cease-fire and to place new regulations on the nearly $4 billion in aid the U.S. sends each year to Israel. “The Biden administration, at this point in time, does not seem to have gotten that message.”

Hostilities have killed more than 200 people, most of them Palestinians, over the last week, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Sunday that they should be ready for an extended military campaign.

Netanyahu is a political flashpoint within the Democratic Party. During the last Democratic administration, Netanyahu repeatedly thumbed his nose at President Barack Obama — going so far as to rail against the Iran nuclear deal from the House floor.

Then, when President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Netanyahu locked arms with his American counterpart. The two men shared an affinity for nationalist policies and rhetoric, and Trump encouraged Netanyahu to extend Israeli settlements into Palestinian-held territory.

Some progressives want Biden to step in and stop Netanyahu now, and to restrict his ability to use American cash and weapons to fight Palestinians.

“The United States should not stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being committed with our backing,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said in a statement to NBC News. “It would be appalling for the Biden administration to go through with $735 million in precision-guided weaponry to Netanyahu without any strings attached in the wake of escalating violence and attacks on civilians.”

That sale, first reported by The Washington Post, was approved by Biden this month.

“If this goes through, this will be seen as a green light for continued escalation and will undercut any attempts at brokering a cease-fire,” Omar said.

Omar, elected in 2018, is among a relatively junior set of frequent Israel critics in Congress. What concerns veteran Israel hawks in the Democratic Party is that more moderate lawmakers are publicly questioning Israel’s actions.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and one of Israel’s strongest supporters on Capitol Hill, said in a statement over the weekend that there must be a “full accounting” of strikes that led to civilian deaths.

“I am deeply troubled by reports of Israeli military actions that resulted in the death of innocent civilians in Gaza as well as Israeli targeting of buildings housing international media outlets,” Menendez said.

“In response to thousands of rocket attacks fired by Hamas aimed at civilians, Israel has every right to self-defense from terrorists committed to wipe her off the face of the map,” he added. “But no matter how dangerous and real that threat may be, I have always believed the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship flourishes when it is based on the shared values of democracy, freedom, pluralism, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

A group of Jewish House Democrats last week released a letter to Biden in which they wrote “the United States cannot simply hope and wait for the situation to improve” with “more lives being lost each day.”

Jeremy Bash, a Democrat who served as chief of staff to the defense secretary during the Obama administration, said his party is still fundamentally pro-Israel. He noted that the basic outlines of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians have not changed much in recent years, even as the issue has become more politically fraught within Democratic circles.

“It shouldn’t be, and it’s wrong,” Bash said. “I do worry that it has become that.”

But while the Biden administration has stopped the U.N. Security Council from adopting any policy or statement about the conflict, one former Obama administration national security official said the White House’s effort to at least placate fellow Democrats was evident in Blinken’s remark about Israel’s burden of adhering to a higher standard of protecting civilians.

“You don’t have to parse the language,” the former Obama aide said. “It’s the fact that he said it about Israel, period.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Irish Taoiseach launches Brexit attack after showdown with Boris: 'Damage can't be undone'

Published

on

BREXIT is a “major step backwards” the damage from which “cannot be undone”, Ireland’s Taoiseach has declared in a blunt assessment of Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, after his crunch meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending