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Westlake Legal Group > New York State

T-Mobile-Sprint Deal, Affecting 100 Million Customers, Approved by Judge

Westlake Legal Group 11tmobile-facebookJumbo T-Mobile-Sprint Deal, Affecting 100 Million Customers, Approved by Judge Wireless Communications Telephones and Telecommunications T-Mobile US Inc. Sprint Nextel Corporation New York State Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Marrero, Victor Legere, John J James, Letitia Decisions and Verdicts Claure, Marcelo Cellular Telephones Attorneys General 5G (Wireless Communications)

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of T-Mobile’s takeover of Sprint in a deal that would further concentrate corporate ownership of technology, combining the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers and creating a new telecommunications giant to take on AT&T and Verizon.

Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court in Manhattan rejected an unusual challenge led by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The suit was brought in June after regulators at the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission approved the deal.

The states argued that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition in the telecommunications industry, lead to higher cellphone bills and place a financial burden on lower-income customers. Once the merger is complete, the great majority of the nation’s wireless users would become customers of three major providers. T-Mobile and Sprint have said they do not plan to raise prices.

In his ruling, Judge Marrero praised T-Mobile, calling it “a maverick that has spurred the two largest players in its industry to make numerous pro-consumer changes.” He added: “The Proposed Merger would allow the merged companies to continue T-Mobile’s undeniably successful business strategy for the foreseeable future.”

The deal will create a new carrier with more than 100 million users. After the merger is final, the majority of Sprint customers will eventually end up having T-Mobile plans. Customers of Sprint’s prepaid brands, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Sprint prepaid, will become Dish Network customers.

The original merger terms called for T-Mobile, the larger of the two companies, to effectively buy Sprint in an all-stock transaction that was earlier valued at $26.5 billion. Because of the lawsuit, the original deadline to complete the deal has passed, and T-Mobile has pushed to renegotiate the terms. The companies expect to close the transaction by April 1.

The combined company, to be called T-Mobile, would be a formidable rival to AT&T, the largest wireless carrier in the country, and Verizon, the second-largest. Shares in Sprint jumped more than 70 percent in early trading on Tuesday, while T-Mobile shares rose 10 percent.

“Today was a huge victory for this merger,” John Legere, the chief executive of T-Mobile, said in a statement. “We are FINALLY able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done!”

Known for his exuberant and often pugnacious leadership style, Mr. Legere made use of the court decision to call out his rivals, AT&T and Verizon, using special sobriquets for each: “Look out Dumb and Dumber and Big Cable — we are coming for you … and you haven’t seen anything yet!”

Marcelo Claure, the executive chairman of Sprint, said the judge’s decision “validates our view that this merger is in the best interests of the U.S. economy and American consumers.”

Letitia James, the New York attorney general who was a key plaintiff in the case, warned on Tuesday that the deal would not be good for consumers.

Ms. James, who has argued that a merger would cost subscribers at least $4.5 billion annually, called the ruling “a loss for every American who relies on their cellphone for work, to care for a family member, and to communicate with friends.” She added that the deal was always about “massive corporate profits over all else.”

Ms. James left open the possibility of an appeal, adding that her office “will continue to fight the kind of consumer-harming megamergers.”

T-Mobile and Sprint have long said the merger was crucial to their futures in an industry challenged by pricing wars that have undercut profits and stalled growth. By combining with Sprint, T-Mobile has said it would be able to accelerate its development of 5G, the next generation of cellular networks.

The deal is also important to Sprint, which has bled cash and subscribers in recent years. SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that controls the company, has been looking to raise cash for its newest tech investing fund.

The new company will be led by Mike Sievert, a T-Mobile executive who will take over from Mr. Legere, the face of the company since 2012 who will leave when his contract is up in April.

“Now we’re laser-focused on finishing the few open items that remain but our eye is on the prize: finally bringing this long-awaited merger and all the goodness it will deliver,” Mr. Sievert said in the statement.

Mr. Legere and Mr. Claure were once rivals whose companies needled each other in advertising campaigns and social-media posts. All was forgotten by April 2018, when the two companies announced their intention to join forces.

The two corporate leaders made personal appeals to officials in Washington as they worked to secure approval for the merger, which was granted by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission last year. To get the nod from the government, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell off significant portions of their businesses to the pay-television operator Dish Network as part of the plan to create a supersize wireless company.

Mr. Legere made numerous visits to the F.C.C. and the Justice Department, and Mr. Claure was a host of a fund-raiser for Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. Several lawmakers expressed misgivings over Mr. Legere’s Washington visits, noting the dozens of times that he and other T-Mobile executives stayed at the Trump International Hotel when in town. The companies have denied doing anything inappropriate.

Another key figure who would benefit from the deal is Masayoshi Son, the outspoken chairman of SoftBank, the investment group that controls Sprint. Mr. Son has been trying to offload Sprint, a debt-laden business, for years.

In December 2016, Mr. Son met with Donald J. Trump, who was then the president-elect, at Trump Tower and pledged to invest some $50 billion in the United States in an initiative that would create 50,000 jobs. In February 2017, SoftBank executives held discussions in Washington with members of the president’s economics team.

Recently, Mr. Son has come under pressure from the activist investor Elliott Management. SoftBank’s outsize investments in tech start-ups, including WeWork, have failed to deliver for investors, and Mr. Son has struggled to raise more cash for a new investment fund.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

T-MobileSprint Deal, Affecting 100 Million Customers, Approved by Judge

Westlake Legal Group 11tmobile-facebookJumbo T-MobileSprint Deal, Affecting 100 Million Customers, Approved by Judge Wireless Communications Telephones and Telecommunications T-Mobile US Inc. Sprint Nextel Corporation New York State Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Marrero, Victor Legere, John J James, Letitia Decisions and Verdicts Claure, Marcelo Cellular Telephones Attorneys General 5G (Wireless Communications)

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of T-Mobile’s takeover of Sprint in a deal that would further concentrate corporate ownership of technology, combining the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers and creating a new telecommunications giant to take on AT&T and Verizon.

Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court in Manhattan rejected an unusual challenge led by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The suit was brought in June after regulators at the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission approved the deal.

The states argued that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition in the telecommunications industry, lead to higher cellphone bills and place a financial burden on lower-income customers. Once the merger is complete, the great majority of the nation’s wireless users would become customers of three major providers. T-Mobile and Sprint have said they do not plan to raise prices.

In his ruling, Judge Marrero praised T-Mobile, calling it “a maverick that has spurred the two largest players in its industry to make numerous pro-consumer changes.” He added: “The Proposed Merger would allow the merged companies to continue T-Mobile’s undeniably successful business strategy for the foreseeable future.”

The deal will create a new carrier with more than 100 million users. After the merger is final, the majority of Sprint customers will eventually end up having T-Mobile plans. Customers of Sprint’s prepaid brands, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Sprint prepaid, will become Dish Network customers.

The original merger terms called for T-Mobile, the larger of the two companies, to effectively buy Sprint in an all-stock transaction that was earlier valued at $26.5 billion. Because of the lawsuit, the original deadline to complete the deal has passed, and T-Mobile has pushed to renegotiate the terms. The companies expect to close the transaction by April 1.

The combined company, to be called T-Mobile, would be a formidable rival to AT&T, the largest wireless carrier in the country, and Verizon, the second-largest. Shares in Sprint jumped more than 70 percent in early trading on Tuesday, while T-Mobile shares rose 10 percent.

“Today was a huge victory for this merger,” John Legere, the chief executive of T-Mobile, said in a statement. “We are FINALLY able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done!”

Known for his exuberant and often pugnacious leadership style, Mr. Legere made use of the court decision to call out his rivals, AT&T and Verizon, using special sobriquets for each: “Look out Dumb and Dumber and Big Cable — we are coming for you … and you haven’t seen anything yet!”

Marcelo Claure, the executive chairman of Sprint, said the judge’s decision “validates our view that this merger is in the best interests of the U.S. economy and American consumers.”

Letitia James, the New York attorney general who was a key plaintiff in the case, warned on Tuesday that the deal would not be good for consumers.

Ms. James, who has argued that a merger would cost subscribers at least $4.5 billion annually, called the ruling “a loss for every American who relies on their cellphone for work, to care for a family member, and to communicate with friends.” She added that the deal was always about “massive corporate profits over all else.”

Ms. James left open the possibility of an appeal, adding that her office “will continue to fight the kind of consumer-harming megamergers.”

T-Mobile and Sprint have long said the merger was crucial to their futures in an industry challenged by pricing wars that have undercut profits and stalled growth. By combining with Sprint, T-Mobile has said it would be able to accelerate its development of 5G, the next generation of cellular networks.

The deal is also important to Sprint, which has bled cash and subscribers in recent years. SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that controls the company, has been looking to raise cash for its newest tech investing fund.

The new company will be led by Mike Sievert, a T-Mobile executive who will take over from Mr. Legere, the face of the company since 2012 who will leave when his contract is up in April.

“Now we’re laser-focused on finishing the few open items that remain but our eye is on the prize: finally bringing this long-awaited merger and all the goodness it will deliver,” Mr. Sievert said in the statement.

Mr. Legere and Mr. Claure were once rivals whose companies needled each other in advertising campaigns and social-media posts. All was forgotten by April 2018, when the two companies announced their intention to join forces.

The two corporate leaders made personal appeals to officials in Washington as they worked to secure approval for the merger, which was granted by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission last year. To get the nod from the government, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell off significant portions of their businesses to the pay-television operator Dish Network as part of the plan to create a supersize wireless company.

Mr. Legere made numerous visits to the F.C.C. and the Justice Department, and Mr. Claure was a host of a fund-raiser for Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. Several lawmakers expressed misgivings over Mr. Legere’s Washington visits, noting the dozens of times that he and other T-Mobile executives stayed at the Trump International Hotel when in town. The companies have denied doing anything inappropriate.

Another key figure who would benefit from the deal is Masayoshi Son, the outspoken chairman of SoftBank, the investment group that controls Sprint. Mr. Son has been trying to offload Sprint, a debt-laden business, for years.

In December 2016, Mr. Son met with Donald J. Trump, who was then the president-elect, at Trump Tower and pledged to invest some $50 billion in the United States in an initiative that would create 50,000 jobs. In February 2017, SoftBank executives held discussions in Washington with members of the president’s economics team.

Recently, Mr. Son has come under pressure from the activist investor Elliott Management. SoftBank’s outsize investments in tech start-ups, including WeWork, have failed to deliver for investors, and Mr. Son has struggled to raise more cash for a new investment fund.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

#MeToo Cases’ New Legal Battleground: Defamation Lawsuits

Westlake Legal Group 00defamation-metoo-judd-facebookJumbo #MeToo Cases’ New Legal Battleground: Defamation Lawsuits Zervos, Summer Weinstein, Harvey Trump, Donald J Suits and Litigation (Civil) Statutes of Limitations sexual harassment Sex Crimes New York State Moore, Roy S Miltenberg, Andrew T Libel and Slander Heard, Amber Giuffre, Virginia Roberts Freedom of Speech and Expression Elliott, Stephen Donegan, Moira Dershowitz, Alan M Depp, Johnny Cosby, Bill Corfman, Leigh #MeToo Movement

Ashley Judd was one of the first women to attach her name to accusations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, but like many of the claims that followed, her account of intimidating sexual advances was too old to bring Mr. Weinstein to court over.

Then a legal window opened to her. After reading about a director’s claim that Mr. Weinstein’s studio, Miramax, had described Ms. Judd as a “nightmare to work with,” she sued the producer for defamation in 2018.

Mr. Weinstein’s rape trial in Manhattan, which began with jury selection last week, is a spectacle not only because he is the avatar of the #MeToo era, but also because it is one of the few sexual assault cases to surface with allegations recent enough to result in criminal charges.

So, unable to pursue justice directly, women and men on both sides of #MeToo are embracing the centuries-old tool of defamation lawsuits, opening an alternative legal battleground for accusations of sexual misconduct.

While the facts of the cases vary, the plaintiffs are generally using defamation law not just for its usual purpose — to dissuade damaging speech about them — but also as a tool to enlist the courts to endorse their version of disputed events.

This year, key verdicts are expected in defamation cases involving President Trump, the Senate candidate Roy Moore and the actor Johnny Depp, and lawyers are watching the proceedings closely.

In some cases, women are basing their suits on recent statements in which the men they accused called them liars; or in Ms. Judd’s case, on a disparaging statement she said she was not aware of until the director, Peter Jackson, revealed it in a 2017 interview. Men like Mr. Depp are using defamation suits to fend off allegations from women, in his case, his ex-wife Amber Heard, who accused him of domestic abuse.

Courts have only begun to grapple with this #MeToo-inspired wave of defamation lawsuits, which are, in some cases, being brought because the statutes of limitations on sexual misconduct can be as short as one year, depending on the state and severity of the accusation. Those statutes are a bedrock legal concept designed to discourage people from being sued or imprisoned based on witness memories that may have eroded over the years.

The cases raise a swirl of issues, including the appropriate limits on freedom of speech; the power of social media, where an accusation can spread on platforms that vary in reliability and authority; and whether the statutes of limitations should be extended, as some states have already done.

Advocates on both sides are anxious. Lawyers for people accused of misconduct fear that a string of defamation victories for women will prevent men who believe they have been wrongly accused from freely defending themselves. At the same time, backers of the #MeToo movement fear that a spate of defamation cases against women will push victims back into the shadows.

“The next year is going to be very interesting when it comes to the law of defamation,” said Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer representing Virginia Giuffre, who said she was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation and accused Mr. Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and the lawyer Alan Dershowitz of being part of it. After they issued statements saying she was lying, she sued them for defamation. Mr. Dershowitz has countersued Ms. Giuffre for defamation; Ms. Maxwell settled in 2017.

“We’re going to see a wave of opinions that will shape that landscape quite a bit,” Ms. McCawley said.

Several cases involve big names in politics and entertainment. Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant, filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump for his comments during his presidential campaign that her accusations of unwanted kissing and groping were fabricated. The president has argued that he cannot be sued in state court while in office, an issue that is likely headed for New York’s highest court. Its decision will be closely watched by E. Jean Carroll, who filed a similar claim against Mr. Trump after he said that she had lied about his raping her to increase sales of her new book.

Leigh Corfman, who accused Mr. Moore of touching her sexually when she was 14, sued him for defamation after he called her story false, malicious and “politically motivated.” That trial is expected to start this year in Alabama. Mr. Moore lost his Senate race in 2017 after accusations surfaced from Ms. Corfman and other women.

And last year, at least eight women reached settlements with Bill Cosby’s insurance company to end their defamation lawsuits. They filed them after his representatives accused them of lying when they said Mr. Cosby had sexually assaulted them decades ago.

At the same time, defamation suits are a go-to strategy for accused men trying to preserve their reputations. Mr. Depp’s lawsuit is expected to go to trial this summer in Virginia unless the judge dismisses it. And a judge in Brooklyn is considering whether to allow or throw out a lawsuit filed by the writer Stephen Elliott against Moira Donegan, the creator of a widely circulated list of men accused of sexual misconduct that included him.

Mr. Elliott, 48, who denied having assaulted anyone, said in an interview that after his essay about the accusation was rebuffed by mainstream news outlets and with his career in shambles, he saw a defamation lawsuit as his only option.

“What would you do if you had been falsely accused of rape?” he said.

There are lower-profile cases moving through the courts, too. Thirty-three out of 193 cases that the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund supports involve defending workers who came forward about sexual harassment and were then sued for defamation, said Sharyn Tejani, the fund’s director.

For many plaintiffs, a benefit of suing for defamation is the opportunity to air the facts of what happened years ago, even if they are unable to sue for harassment or assault.

“In order to prove you’re a truth teller, you have to prove it happened,” said Joseph Cammarata, who represented seven Cosby accusers. “This is a direct way to get at the person who assaulted you.”

In Ms. Judd’s case, it could lead to a hearing over her account of visiting Mr. Weinstein’s room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel one morning in late 1996 or early 1997, expecting a professional breakfast. She said that Mr. Weinstein, wearing a bathrobe, had requested to massage her or for her to watch him shower, and that she had refused.

Ms. Judd has argued that Miramax called her a “nightmare to work with” in retaliation for the hotel encounter. Miramax’s alleged conversation with Mr. Jackson occurred more than 20 years ago. The statute of limitations for a defamation claim in California is just one year, but the judge let the case go forward, saying that it was plausible that Ms. Judd would only learn about the conversation through Mr. Jackson’s 2017 interview. (The judge threw out Ms. Judd’s sexual harassment claim, saying it did not fall within the scope of California law.)

Mr. Weinstein has not directly disputed the allegation that Miramax said Ms. Judd was a “nightmare to work with” but has argued that his attempts to land her major acting roles later on showed that he was not trying to hinder her career. He has denied having any nonconsensual sexual encounters, including with the two women at the center of his rape trial in Manhattan. On Monday, prosecutors in Los Angeles announced that he had been charged with rape and sexual battery in connection with encounters with two women there.

Compared with some other countries, in the United States a defamation case is relatively difficult to win, because of a standard set by the Supreme Court to protect freedom of the press. If the plaintiff is a public figure, as many are, he or she must prove the statement was both false and made with “reckless disregard” for whether it was true.

In countries without the same high bar, including China, Australia and France, men have won high-profile defamation cases against women or news outlets that published their stories.

In the United States, a court must also find that the speech in question is based in fact and not purely opinion. Part of Mr. Trump’s argument against Ms. Zervos is that his statements were “fiery rhetoric, hyperbole and opinion” that are protected by the Constitution. Mr. Moore has made a similar argument. In denying Mr. Trump’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, a judge wrote that he knew exactly what transpired between him and Ms. Zervos, so his calling her a liar was akin to an assertion of fact.

The public airing of #MeToo stories over the past two years has made these suits noticeable, but the strategy is not entirely new. In 1994, Paula Jones sued President Bill Clinton alleging that he had exposed himself to her when he was governor of Arkansas. One portion of the lawsuit accused him and his associates of defaming Ms. Jones by characterizing her as a liar.

A judge dismissed the claim, writing that the comments were “mere denials of the allegations and the questioning of plaintiff’s motives.” Mr. Clinton settled the rest of the suit for $850,000, without admitting wrongdoing; his lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky during the Jones lawsuit led to his impeachment.

But a more recent ruling, by New York’s highest court, has given hope to lawyers representing women. The court in 2014 revived a lawsuit filed by two men against Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse University basketball coach, who had accused the two men of lying when they said one of Mr. Boeheim’s assistants, Bernie Fine, had abused them as children. The defamation lawsuit was settled in 2015. (Mr. Fine lost his job, but after an investigation, he was not charged with a crime.)

The decision made the New York court system an attractive place to file this kind of lawsuit, said Mariann Wang, who represented the plaintiffs in that case, and Ms. Zervos until recently.

Since the #MeToo movement took off, a number of states have lengthened the statutes of limitations for sexual assault claims, meaning future victims may have less need to rely on defamation lawsuits.

But those suits remain the only legal option for people like Therese Serignese, who said Mr. Cosby gave her pills backstage at a show in Las Vegas in 1976, when she was 19. The next memory she had was waking up to realize that she was being sexually violated.

She joined a lawsuit in 2015 asserting that representatives for Mr. Cosby had defamed her and other women by calling stories like theirs “fantastical” and “past the point of absurdity.” Mr. Cosby’s insurance company settled the lawsuit in April, about a year after he was convicted of sexual assault.

“My point was to make him accountable,” Ms. Serignese, 62, said. “Put him out there and make him work to prove that I’m not telling the truth. Because I knew I was telling the truth.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A G.O.P. Star Emerges in Impeachment Hearings. Democratic Donors Notice.

Westlake Legal Group 18stefanik-facebookJumbo A G.O.P. Star Emerges in Impeachment Hearings. Democratic Donors Notice. United States Politics and Government Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Stefanik, Elise Republican Party New York State Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Cobb, Tedra

ALBANY, N.Y. — Shortly after the impeachment hearing began on Friday, Representative Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, made her mark. She accused the Democratic committee chairman, Adam Schiff, of trying to silence her and other members of her party, “simply because we are Republicans.”

Later, Ms. Stefanik took on a prominent role among Republicans in questioning the day’s witness, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch.

For Ms. Stefanik, 35, once the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the moment in the spotlight was noticed by members of her party, most notably President Trump, who called her a “new Republican star” on Twitter.

But her performance was also a galvanizing moment for Democrats, who swarmed Ms. Stefanik’s Democratic challenger, Tedra Cobb, with social media attention and donations: Ms. Cobb’s campaign announced a weekend fund-raising haul of more than $1 million.

Among the wave of donors was George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer who is married to President Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, and is now a prominent critic of Mr. Trump. Mr. Conway posted a screenshot of his $2,800 contribution on Twitter, and was among other left-leaning social media luminaries, including Chrissy Teigen, George Takei, Mark Hamill and Zach Braff, who encouraged their followers to follow suit.

That swell of financial help was mirrored in an exponential increase in social interest: Ms. Cobb and Ms. Stefanik each gained more than 200,000 new followers on Twitter since Friday, according to Social Blade, a social media data firm.

The sudden attention given to the race in New York’s 21st Congressional District demonstrates how the nation’s partisan divide can invigorate a little-noticed upstate outpost — covering a massive chunk of Adirondack forests and towns known as the North Country — and turn it into a major electoral battleground.

The district is considered a challenge for Democrats: Despite a creeping increase in registered Democratic voters in recent years, Republicans still outnumber Democrats by nearly 50,000. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Bill Owens, who won a 2009 special election and retired in 2014.

Ms. Stefanik, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, ran to fill Mr. Owens’s seat, after working as an aide to President George W. Bush and helping the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, prepare for his debates.

Her sudden prominence comes less than a year after she clashed with Republican leaders over the party’s direction. Last December, after Republicans suffered big losses in the 2018 elections, Ms. Stefanik stepped down from her post as head of recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and circulated a letter arguing that Republicans’ lack of diversity — including having few female candidates — was hurting the party’s electoral chances.

“Neither our Republican caucus, nor our party as a whole, can afford further erosion among key demographics,” Ms. Stefanik wrote, in collaboration with three other members of Congress, adding that Republicans were “falling short in races that were otherwise winnable,” including in suburban districts.

Mr. Owens, a lawyer in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said that the district was changing somewhat in recent years but remained a rural, largely Republican, area — a place popular with hunters who have guns “and don’t misuse them.” He said Ms. Stefanik had initially been successful in presenting a moderate, bipartisan image, but felt that the Trump era had forced her to the right.

“She now appears very partisan,” Mr. Owens said. “And that’s not where she had been.”

As the sole Republican woman on the House Intelligence Committee, Ms. Stefanik’s questioning of Ms. Yovanovitch was both complimentary — with the congresswoman thanking the ambassador for her “tremendous public service” — and contentious, with Ms. Stefanik pressing the witness on her work on Ukrainian corruption during the Obama administration.

While Ms. Stefanik’s youth and gender make her an outlier among Republicans in the impeachment hearings, she rejected any suggestion that her enhanced role in the hearings was politically calculated.

“My quest for transparency has nothing to do with me being a woman or a millennial,” Ms. Stefanik said on Twitter.

Ms. Stefanik’s clash with Mr. Schiff was derided as a stunt by many Democratic critics, as well as Ms. Cobb. Others noted that the resolution setting up ground rules for the hearings passed by the House supported Mr. Schiff’s actions.

Still, Democrats welcomed the attention that Ms. Stefanik brought to her re-election effort, hoping that it enhances the chances of Ms. Cobb, a former St. Lawrence County legislator who lost to Ms. Stefanik in 2018 by nearly 14 percentage points.

“Congresswoman Stefanik went all in on defending President Trump’s reckless agenda,” said Cole Leiter, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “And put her total allegiance to the political party she serves in Washington on full display.”

Ms. Cobb is running a campaign as a “North Country insider, Washington D.C. outsider,” whose campaign website outlines her positions on improving the local economy, fighting opioid abuse, working on gun control and “fair and sensible immigration policies,” a factor in a district which shares a border with Canada.

She has expressed support for the impeachment inquiry, but seems to be trying to woo moderate voters as well, saying “the tenor of our politics too often divides us.”

“I’m old enough to remember when we could expect our leaders to take the high road,” Ms. Cobb said on Twitter on Monday.

Ms. Stefanik’s campaign seemed unconcerned by the influx of cash for Ms. Cobb, but it nonetheless sought to use it to solicit its own donations: Since last week, Ms. Stefanik has urged her supporters on Twitter to “help me fight back against the Far-Left’s attacks.”

Her campaign would not divulge how much money it had received over the weekend, but she had raised some $450,000 in the third quarter of 2019, and had $1.3 million on hand, according to an October filing.

“Our campaign has never been in a stronger position as we are today,” said Lenny Alcivar, a spokesman for the congresswoman. “We absolutely look forward to running against the No. 1 pro-impeachment candidate that the North Country knows well.”

Mark E. Frost, the publisher and editor of the Glens Falls Chronicle, a free weekly, said he didn’t believe that the impeachment hearings had “changed many minds in northern New York, at least among the people I talk to and hear from.”

But while he said Ms. Stefanik “remains on solid footing with most voters” in the district, the current political climate made the 2020 race hard to handicap.

“By next year or next week, who knows?” Mr. Frost said. “Political earthquakes hit faster and bigger all the time. Maybe Stefanik’s role in the impeachment hearing has or will set another one in motion.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

NY Governor looks to revoke utility’s license over imaginary natural gas

Westlake Legal Group Cuomo NY Governor looks to revoke utility’s license over imaginary natural gas utilities The Blog New York State New York City natural gas National Grid governor Andrew Cuomo

You may recall earlier this month when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened utility company National Grid with massive fines if they didn’t start adding more natural gas hookups in New York City. This was done despite the fact that National Grid had told him that they no longer had an adequate supply of gas in their aging pipelines to provide service to more customers. This left everyone wondering what would happen during peak demand hours this winter when the temperatures dip into single digits.

In order to avoid the fines, the utility agreed to start adding more hookups, even though it might outstrip the supply. (That didnt’ stop the Governor from continuing to defy calls for the approval of a new pipeline to keep up with demand.) But even that concession apparently wasn’t enough for Cuomo. Now he wants the state’s public utilities regulator to look into the option of canceling National Grid’s license to operate. That’ll teach ’em a lesson, eh? (CBS New York)

Gov. Cuomo’s anger at National Grid has boiled over. In a stunning move, he ordered the state’s public utilities regulator to explore potential grounds for revoking the company’s license.

He also slammed his own agency, the Public Service Commission, for not preventing customers from become pipeline pawns, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

A little over a week ago, John Bruckner, president of National Grid New York, proudly took Kramer into his command center to show off his gas pipeline system. Now he faces the very real possibility that the system will be taken over by someone else, because he declared a gas moratorium that denied natural gas to 3,700 customers.

The governor is calling this a case of “corporate abuse.” National Grid calls it a wakeup call and a cold dose of reality. They’ve already explained that the existing pipelines don’t provide enough product for that many customers. But Cuomo and his environmentalist buddies continue to block any proposals to bring in a new pipeline to alleviate the problem.

Cuomo is really becoming unhinged over this. He told the utilities regulator to find out “when and how we eliminate an abusive utility from the state to protect consumers.”

But he didn’t stop there. Never one to complain about a problem without offering a solution, Cuomos offered up a suggestion. “What are the alternatives? You could use oil. You could truck in gas,” he said.

Excuse me? This is your idea of a solution to the problem? Oil or “trucking in gas?” First of all, even if you could start pumping heating oil through the existing pipelines (you can’t), the furnaces, stoves and other appliances that rely on the supply can’t run on oil. They’re not designed for it. Unless you want to tell everyone to gut their buildings, rip out the gas heaters and replace them with oil-fired furnaces. But then you’re just using more evil fossil fuels that you promised to keep in the ground.

I suppose you could consider “trucking in” CNG (compressed natural gas), assuming they have the facilities to offload it and feed it into the lines. But that process would cost a fortune and heating prices would spike. I somehow don’t think the voters will be too happy with you if that’s the answer.

There are two solutions here. You can try to abandon natural gas for all new customers and construction projects and come up with some other way to heat those buildings. Of course, you’ll bankrupt a ton of construction projects and force consumers to get rid of and replace furnaces and stoves at considerable expense. Nobody is going to go along with that. The other option is to stop playing politics with the environmentalist lobby and approve the pipeline that the utility companies have been asking for for a decade. Then you’ll have cheap, clean energy available to heat all of these buildings for many years to come.

Or, I suppose, you can fire National Grid and hand the problem over to someone else. But they won’t be able to make imaginary natural gas appear out of thin air either.

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New York lawsuit seeking Trump’s tax returns will proceed

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Of the many lawsuits and investigations launched against President Trump on a seemingly daily basis, one of the less discussed ones has been unfolding in the state of New York. The Manhattan D.A.’s office has been seeking eight years of both personal and business tax returns from Trump as part of an investigation that’s never been very clearly spelled out for the public. Still, a grand jury was convinced to make the request for the returns over a month ago and the President’s legal team has been fighting it ever since.

Today, the judge in the case threw out the objection from Trump’s lawyers. They had claimed that the President had virtually full immunity from prosecution while in office. Obviously, the judge disagreed. (NBC News)

A federal judge Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s claim that he was immune from criminal investigations as part of his bid to block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney seeking eight years of personal and business tax returns.

The judge, Victor Marrero, tossed the lawsuit Trump’s legal team brought against District Attorney Cyrus Vance that argued Vance should not receive Trump’s tax returns because “‘[v]irtually all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office.”

In a 75-page order, Marrero called the presidential immunity Trump invoked in the lawsuit to stop the production of tax documents “unqualified and boundless.”

Judge Marrero (a Clinton appointee) serves in the Southern District of New York, where many of the lawsuits and charges aimed at the President originate. His assertion that claims of presidential immunity are “unqualified and boundless” will be interesting to evaluate on appeal. The question of whether or not the President really is immune from any form of prosecution or arrest while serving in office is an old one that’s been argued for as long as the republic has existed. You can find legal scholars both agreeing and disagreeing, sometimes depending on which party currently holds power.

Of course, it might be more useful to know precisely what they’re thinking of charging Trump with. Thus far, all of the statements released from the DA’s office simply claim that the matter is related to “payments made to two women who allegedly had affairs with the president.” If these were payments made as part of more NDAs lurking in Trump’s closet, I’m not sure what criminal charges they could be referring to unless we’re bringing back New York’s old blue laws against adultery.

Either way, now that the judge has kicked Trump’s motion, his legal team will need to move fast if they want to avoid the document dump. One journalist from Bloomberg stated earlier today that the appeal would need to be filed almost immediately under the terms of a previous agreement. Otherwise, the documents would start flowing to the court in a matter of days if not hours.

As it turns out, Trump’s team got the appeal filed in no time flat and a judge has already granted an extension.

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Tax Law’s Cap on State and Local Deductions Is Upheld by Court

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Congress didn’t unconstitutionally penalize Democratic-leaning states when it imposed a cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes, a federal judge ruled Monday.

The 2017 federal tax law, which President Trump signed after a party-line vote in Congress, limited to $10,000 the state and local tax payments that families can write off on their federal income taxes if they itemize deductions.

The provision, known as the SALT cap, disproportionately affected residents of wealthy, high-tax states, where residents are more likely to have state tax bills that exceed the $10,000 limit.

Four states, including New York, sued the federal government last year, arguing that the cap is an “unconstitutional assault” on their sovereignty.

But on Monday, a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan rejected that argument.

“The court recognizes that the SALT cap is in many ways a novelty,” the judge, J. Paul Oetken, wrote in his decision. “But the states have failed to persuade the court that this novelty alone establishes that the SALT cap exceeds Congress’s broad tax power.”

The other states joining in the suit were New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.

The cap on state and local tax deductions, which had been unlimited, was one of a handful of provisions intended to offset the cost of trillions of dollars in tax cuts included in the 2017 law. The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper on tax matters, estimated the cap and related provisions would raise close to $700 billion in revenue over 10 years.

Independent analyses have found that even in high-tax states like New York, most residents received at least a modest tax cut under the 2017 law. Other provisions of the law, such as the reduction in marginal tax rates, offset the loss of the deduction for many families.

The state and local tax issue is in some ways an awkward one for Democrats, because they are trying to restore a tax break that primarily benefited relatively high earners. In 2017, before the cap took effect, households earning $200,000 or more accounted for roughly half of the nearly $600 billion in state and local tax payments deducted on federal tax returns.

But Democrats argue that the SALT cap penalizes states with progressive tax policies because it effectively makes state and local taxes more expensive for residents. That could make it harder for states to raise taxes, particularly on wealthy residents, and could increase pressure to cut spending. In their lawsuit, the four states argued that the SALT cap amounted to a coercive effort by the federal government to push certain states to change their tax policies.

Many Democrats suspected a political motive. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has described the law as an “economic missile” aimed at families in his state. He and other governors from predominantly Democratic states have tried to engineer ways for their residents to escape the cap, so far largely without success.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Cuomo said New York would consider appealing the ruling.

“The bottom line is this policy is unprecedented, unlawful, punitive and politically motivated — and it must be stopped,” he said.

Judge Oetken said he would not “speculate on Congress’s motives in passing the SALT cap.” But in any case, he said, it didn’t matter — Congress is allowed to try to influence state policies, and a law isn’t unconstitutional just because it affects some states more than others.

“The states have failed to show that the financial burden their taxpayers will experience as a result of the SALT cap is any more severe than the sort of burden that might accompany any other statewide economic disappointment,” he wrote.

Daniel Hemel, a professor of tax law at the University of Chicago, said he wasn’t surprised that the court had rejected the states’ argument. He noted that Congress had limited the state and local tax deduction in the past, albeit indirectly, through policies such as the alternative minimum tax.

“The states’ constitutional challenge to the SALT cap was a long shot from the start,” Mr. Hemel wrote in an email. “Supporters of the SALT deduction need to convince the next president (or a critical mass of Congress) that the deduction is a desirable feature of federal income tax law. They were never going to convince a federal judge that the SALT deduction is constitutionally ordained, though.”

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New York State sues ICE for doing its job

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New York, New York. So nice they say it twice. But not when it comes to ICE. (Save your booing. I never claimed to be a poet.)

Out in the Empire State, the Attorney General is preparing to sue Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the crime of (wait for it…) arresting illegal aliens. That’s right, folks. The government entity responsible for identifying and detaining illegal aliens and processing them for deportation is under fire for doing precisely that. It seems that Attorney General Letitia James is upset that ICE has been arresting illegals in and around courthouses in her state and that’s just not fair. (The Hill)

State and local officials on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), alleging the agency makes “unlawful and unconstitutional” civil immigration arrests in and around courthouses in New York City.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, claims these arrests deter witnesses from helping law enforcement and prevents victims from reporting crimes to the authorities out of fear of being detained.

“This lawsuit challenges the federal government’s recent unlawful and unconstitutional policy authorizing civil immigration arrests in and around New York State courthouses — a policy that disrupts the effective functioning of our courts, deters victims and witnesses from assisting law enforcement and vindicating their rights, hinders criminal prosecution, and undermines public safety,” the complaint reads.

We’ve seen the same complaints in California, all to little or no effect. The first thing to keep in mind is that these aren’t random sweeps or general raids. These are cases where ICE has a warrant for a specific person that they haven’t been able to track down otherwise. And given how they prioritize which illegal aliens to go after, these are almost always illegals charged with other, more serious crimes.

And why does ICE need to pick them up when they have a court date? Because New York City doesn’t allow the police to honor ICE detainers and hold them in jail until immigration officers arrive to safely take them into custody. That means they either have to track them down out in the community (which can be more dangerous) or catch up with them at the only place they can reasonably predict they will show up. In court.

Both New York City and the state have been bending over backward to make life easier for illegal aliens and tougher for immigration law enforcement for years now. Most recently, the state government approved driver’s licenses for illegals, despite polls showing a clear majority of voters in the state opposed the measure. I can’t wait to see how many of them mysteriously show up as registered voters through the error-prone motor voter program.

But in any event, the lawsuit will no doubt move forward. I find it difficult to imagine that this suit will stand up if it goes all the way to the top. The fact is that it was never technically illegal for federal agents to make arrests in or around courthouses. That was just a policy initiated under the Obama administration. That policy changed under Trump, so this lawsuit should be regarded as frivolous.

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How Kirsten Gillibrand’s Presidential Dreams Unraveled

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in a bind.

With less than three weeks until the deadline to get into the fall presidential debates — which she deemed crucial to keeping her campaign alive — she was on track to fall well short. She had neither the 130,000 donors she needed nor the necessary support in the polls. What she did have was a stockpile of cash. So, in one Hail Mary heave, she unloaded $1.5 million on a two-week television buy in the doldrums of August to try to improve her numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“The alternative to not going all in,” said Glen Caplin, a senior adviser to Ms. Gillibrand, “was not a viable alternative.”

The gamble would prove to be a final miscalculation. If the commercials caused any discernible Gillibrand bump, it would go undetected: No Iowa or New Hampshire polls that could have qualified her were even conducted after her ads aired. On Wednesday, with the deadline just hours away, Ms. Gillibrand dropped out.

“It’s important to know when it’s not your time,” Ms. Gillibrand said in a video.

How Ms. Gillibrand, 52, so swiftly went from a rising star of the Democratic resistance and “the #MeToo senator,” as “60 Minutes” had memorably tagged her in 2018, to a 2020 afterthought and early primary casualty is a tale of mistakes, misfortune and a message that did not meaningfully hold sway in a historically crowded field.

Ms. Gillibrand, of New York, entered the race pitching herself as the voice of feminism and the defender of families and women’s equality. She championed a new “Family Bill of Rights,” pioneered a new litmus test to select only judges who supported Roe v. Wade and traveled to Republican-controlled states to protest new restrictions on abortion.

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Of the six female candidates, Ms. Gillibrand was the first to call it quits, having found little traction among women or men.CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

But of the six female candidates, she was the first to call it quits, having found little traction among women or men. She almost never topped 1 percent in a poll. In fact, Ms. Gillibrand ended up as the female candidate with the fewest donors, trailing even the political newcomer Marianne Williamson, despite having spent years trying to build a national following.

[Who’s in? Who’s out? Keep up with the 2020 field with our candidate tracker.]

“She was running in a lane of fighting on women’s issues, but other people were running in that lane as well,” Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said. “You had several female candidates who were all bringing their own brand of feminism.”

Ms. Gillibrand said in an interview that she was unsure what the missing piece of her candidacy was. “I don’t know,” she said. “My campaign may well have been ahead of its time.”

Little seemed to click this year.

Her kickoff event was overshadowed by the release of the first snippets of the Mueller report, an unforeseeable development.

Yet she was also prone to self-inflicted wounds. At one Boston fund-raiser, Ms. Gillibrand asked a group of women to contact people on their Christmas-card and school-parent lists to ask for $1 donations to help her make the debate, according to one attendee, who said she and others were appalled by the implication that the women did not have professional circles of their own.

By early August, the downward trajectory was plain to see. Senator Kamala Harris of California was motoring across Iowa in a leather-appointed bus decorated with her campaign logo. A second bus of reporters and aides trailed behind.

Ms. Gillibrand rode in a small R.V. with her campaign sign slapped on the side; her husband was behind the wheel.

She attracted scant crowds (Andrew Yang, a first-time candidate, outdrew her splashy weekend kickoff rally on a rainy work night this spring; both events were in Manhattan). She failed to secure significant endorsements (only one New York member of Congress backed her).

And she was plagued by questions about her past. Her prominent role as the first Democratic senator to call for Al Franken’s resignation dogged her throughout the race, with voters and reporters bringing it up and some Democratic donors denouncing her. And Ms. Gillibrand’s record included policy reversals like her past support of gun rights and her opposition to “amnesty for illegal immigrants” — making her a hard sell for progressives focused on purity and consistency.

Her exact ideological bearing could prove elusive. Was she the upstate congresswoman who flipped a heavily Republican seat more than a decade ago, or the liberal firebrand who voted down nearly every one of President Trump’s nominees?

Ms. Gillibrand in a mock debate session in Troy, N.Y., in June.CreditPatrick Dodson for The New York Times

“There’s a false debate in the party right now,” Ms. Gillibrand said in late August. “Either you have to be an uber-progressive who can inspire the base, or you have to be a moderate who wins those red and purple areas. I believe you have to do both. And my candidacy is both.”

As Ms. Gillibrand’s campaign languished, she began plunging ever more money into Facebook ads, prospecting for donors with money-losing offers like giving away T-shirts for $1.

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Overall, she spent $2.8 million on Facebook — more than $20 for every contributor to her campaign. She ended with fewer than the required 130,000 donors and less than $800,000 in campaign funds.

“The sky-high expectations for her candidacy were also themselves a liability,” Jon Reinish, a former aide to Ms. Gillibrand, said. “When she didn’t shoot to the top right away, the perception game became an albatross she couldn’t shake.”

Ms. Gillibrand’s candidacy did not get off to an auspicious start. She had secured a big booking on her first full day, a spot on Rachel Maddow’s highly rated MSNBC show. The show is typically a friendly space for Democrats, but Ms. Maddow grilled Ms. Gillibrand about her political “transformation.” “She had an A rating from the N.R.A.,” Ms. Maddow said. “She said she wanted to make English the official language of the United States.”

It was the first of many interviews consumed by questions about her record.

More coverage of Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign
Gillibrand Drops Out of 2020 Democratic Presidential Race

Aug. 28, 2019

‘This Is My Space’: Kirsten Gillibrand’s Unabashedly Feminist Campaign

Feb. 12, 2019

Stand-Ins, Push-Ups, Long Drives: How the 2020 Candidates Are Preparing for the Debates

June 24, 2019

When Will the 2020 Democratic Field Start to Shrink?

Aug. 1, 2019

She became so adroit at apologizing for her past positions — to her disadvantage, guns and immigration developed into two prominent issues in the Democratic primary contest — that she tried to turn that skill into an asset, comparing it favorably to Mr. Trump’s lack of contrition. But she yielded no ground on Mr. Franken, saying he was not entitled to her “silence” after multiple, credible accusations of sexual misconduct.

“She really did carve a path for unapologetic feminism,” Ilyse Hogue, the president of the abortion-rights group NARAL, said. But, she added, “those who are fiercest and who choose to go toe-to-toe with entrenched misogyny are rarely rewarded.”

Ms. Hogue said that the Franken episode had at times “overshadowed her campaign,” but she predicted that “history will show what she was doing was for the betterment of the country.”

Ms. Gillibrand’s campaign made an early bet that the senator could slowly win over small audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire living rooms. Her $10 million Senate war chest gave her a financial cushion to pursue the strategy. But the early months of the 2020 race showed the national narrative playing out on social media and television, not in coffee shops. That dynamic drove the early states, not the other way around.

Ms. Gillibrand announced her presidential campaign in March.CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

“I didn’t see her show up like I know she could have and know that she can,” L. Joy Williams, the president of the Brooklyn N.A.A.C.P., said. “I don’t know why, to be honest with you.”

Her campaign also failed to line up key supporters in New York, such as party officials and members of Congress. One planned dinner for lawmakers at her Washington home was canceled. Some New York donors said they wrote her a check out of obligation but declined to host a fund-raiser. Charlie King, a Democratic National Committee member from New York who is unaligned in the 2020 race, said he never heard from Ms. Gillibrand or her team.

“I heard from several other campaigns,” Mr. King said. “Multiple times.”

Ms. Gillibrand’s lack of small-donor support — the lifeblood of Democratic fund-raising — was evident from the start. Through June, she had topped 2,500 donations in a day only once; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had more than 100 such days.

In May, Ms. Gillibrand’s campaign began to sever ties with Anne Lewis Strategies, the political firm where she had directed $5.6 million in 2017 and 2018, in part to build a digital supporter list. Not enough of those people became 2020 donors.

Months into her bid, Ms. Gillibrand was hemorrhaging money. In the second quarter she spent nearly $2 million more than she raised — by far the worst ratio of any candidate who was not self-funding a run.

Rival campaigns took note. Some began privately discussing how soon would be too soon to try to poach some of the talent that Ms. Gillibrand had assembled in her Troy, N.Y., headquarters.

Ms. Gillibrand had some bright spots. She sipped whiskey with voters, dressed up with drag queens in Des Moines, took spin classes everywhere and arm-wrestled with an Iowa college student. Her team quickly packaged these vignettes into videos posted online.

During her Fox News forum in early June, she was dismissed by the moderator, Chris Wallace, as “not very polite” — a rare viral moment.

“We want women to have a seat at the table,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

“What about men?” Mr. Wallace asked.

“They’re already there — do you not know?” she replied.

In July, her answer defining white privilege ricocheted across the internet and drew plaudits from progressives. But by then the press corps trailing her had thinned. Voters seemed to have settled on a top tier of contenders. It did not include her.

Ms. Gillibrand and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the second Democratic presidential debate. CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Ms. Gillibrand and her campaign knew the second debate was her last best shot to break through. And they thought they had found a perfect issue to take on the front-runner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.: his opposition to a child tax credit in 1980.

But Ms. Gillibrand telegraphed the attack days before the debate. So Mr. Biden came prepared for her premeditated broadside, dismissing her questions about his record on defending women as expediency borne of the fact that she was now running against him.

Ms. Gillibrand received her first 2 percent qualifying poll soon afterward, which helped inspire the ill-fated ad blitz. Her advisers hoped better polling would inspire more donors to chip in.

In recent weeks, her campaign filled inboxes with pleas for cash as often as three times a day. Gloria Steinem signed emails. T-shirts were offered for $1.

“At this point, it’s now or never,” her campaign pleaded on Monday.

It would be her last day on the trail. She took a spin class near San Francisco, canceled fund-raisers in Southern California and then flew to New York to huddle with her family on Tuesday evening.

“I came home, talked to my husband, my two boys, we had a very, very thoughtful and wonderful conversation about what the role of public service is,” she said, “and that mommy is dedicated to serving others, no matter what or in whatever role it is.”

On Wednesday, she broke the news to her headquarters staff in person. They ended the night together at a bar, drinking whiskey.

Alex Burns contributed reporting

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Even Gillibrand’s former staffers think she should drop out

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We don’t seem to have seen a lot of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2020 nomination coverage lately. That might be the cumulative result of her RCP polling average sitting at 0.6 right now and never really having gotten much above one. It could be the fact that she barely raised two million dollars in the second quarter. Or maybe it was the beer pong that didn’t involve any actual beer. Who knows?

The bottom line here is that this candidacy is seriously looking like a wounded animal searching for a dry place to go curl up and await the end. And some people have definitely noticed and are talking about it. According to the Daily Caller, these people include two of her former staffers and one personal friend. And they all seem to think it’s time to call the time of death and pull the plug.

At least two former staffers and one friend to New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand say it is time for the lawmaker to quit the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

One former aide even went so far as to describe the senator’s performance in the Democratic presidential debates as “performative and obnoxious,” according to the New York Post.

“I don’t know that anyone even wants to see her on the debate stage. Everyone I have talked to finds her performative and obnoxious,” said the ex-staffer who worked in Gillibrand’s Senate office.

Wow. Everyone finds her “performative and obnoxious?” That’s gonna leave a mark.

Also worth noting is that Gillibrand has thus far still not met the threshold of 130,000 individual donors needed to bet on the debate stage next month. Word on the street is that you can now get a $30 campaign t-shirt for one dollar if you are a first time donor. Assuming, you know… if that’s the sort of thing you might buy.

So what happened? These people talking about her obnoxious nature on stage are supposedly her friends and former colleagues, but I don’t think they’re hitting the mark here. Plenty of obnoxious people have gone a long way in politics, even if you agree that describes her personality. Also, some of them are talking about her campaign “collapsing.” The Gillibrand campaign can’t collapse because it never rose up from the dust in the first place.

No, I think what we observed in this little saga was something I pointed out when she first formed her exploratory committee. The Democratic base never had any reason to get fired up about Gillibrand because she couldn’t pass the purity test. It’s still only been a decade or so since the days when she was pro-gun, anti-immigration congresswoman and enough of a blue dog to earn her the moniker of being “a weird version of Sarah Palin.”

Sure, she says all of her views magically changed overnight when she was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s old Senate seat. Now she’s part of the clan, pushing the most liberal policies imaginable. But the Democrats have a huge batch of candidates to pick from who embraced those policies for their entire careers. Why trust the Johnny-Come-Lately lady from New York who might flip flop back in the other direction any day now?

Anyway, that’s just my two cents. In the end, the reason may not really matter. The fact is that this campaign never got off the ground and she’s not doing enough to justify continually asking supporters to keep betting more money on a horse that’s stuck at the back of the pack.

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