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Trump denounces Andrew Cuomo, AG Letitia James as witch hunters

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in April 2018 with

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in April 2018 with Letitia James, a New York City public advocate later elected state attorney general. Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

New York state of mean

Back from his Asia trip, Donald Trump has finally found a state to call out for its cruelty. No, not Kim Jong Un's North Korea, or Vladimir Putin's Russia, or Xi Jinping's China.

It's Andrew Cuomo's New York.

A five-tweet series Monday began with a Trump shot at New York's taxes, complaining, "It is very hard and expensive to live in New York." But Trump's beefing then pivoted to the personal, portraying state investigations into his businesses as presidential persecution, another "Witch Hunt."

"Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his attorney general as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes," said Trump. (AG Letitia James isn't an employee of the governor; she was elected on her own. Both are Democrats.)

"Cuomo’s A.G. is harassing all of my … New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible. So, on top of ridiculously high taxes, my children and companies are spending a fortune on lawyers," Trump tweeted.

James is investigating Trump’s company, his foundation and whether Trump exaggerated his wealth to obtain loans.

Asked about the tweets, Cuomo told reporters Trump “says the most absurd things.” James, who was not mentioned by name in Trump’s tweet, referred to only as “Cuomo’s A.G.,” responded on Twitter that her office will “follow the facts of any case, wherever they lead.” For more, see Newsday's story by Michael Gormley.

Bolton frozen out?

After The New York Times reported that the Trump administration may settle for a freeze in North Korea's nuclear weapons program instead of nuclear disarmament, an angry tweet followed from national security adviser John Bolton.

"Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to ‘settle for a nuclear freeze by NK,’ ” Bolton tweeted, He described the report as “a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President.”

That sounded less like a categorical denial and more liken a denunciation of the idea's proponents — perhaps rivals of Bolton, who has been rebuked by Trump for his reflexive hawkishness. Bolton wasn't part of the delegation that went to the DMZ with the president.

Janison: Looking the peacemaker part

More than a half-century since Marshall McLuhan said the medium is the message, Trump's North Korea photo op makes the statement worth revisiting, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. The media impression is Trump's obsession. Details of the message might be beside the point.

Kim still has his nukes. But if you put the latest photo next to one of Trump in 2017 calling Kim "Rocket Man" at the UN and threatening to destroy North Korea, you can choose to believe there has been progress.

Trump still regards Iran as a bad nuclear actor. He trashed the Obama-era treaty with Tehran, which as of Monday breached the pact's limit on uranium enrichment as part of its response. But Trump has said repeatedly he'd meet with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, which would make for a great photo of Trump as peacemaker.

Poll: Harris rockets, Biden rocked 

A new CNN poll finds Joe Biden bleeding support following last week's first round of Democratic debates. The former vice president's support slid from 32% to 22%, while Kamala Harris — the California senator who dramatically confronted Biden on racial issues — surged into second place with 17%, up from 8%.

Right behind Harris was Elizabeth Warren, who dominated the first night of the debates and saw her backing soar from 7% to 15%. That displaced Bernie Sanders as the top choice among candidates most identified with the party's progressive wing. His 14%, a slide of 4 points, dropped him from second to fourth place.

Pete Buttigieg slipped 1 point, to 4%, and the poll showed no support from black voters. Bill de Blasio's aggressive debate performance left him in a four-way tie for ninth place with 1%.

Biden remained the top choice of black voters at 36%, followed by Harris at 24%. Click here for full poll results.

Ugly at the border

Customs and Border Protection officials launched an internal investigation Monday following a ProPublica report that a secret Facebook group of current and former agents featured jokes about migrant deaths, vulgar sexual memes denigrating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and talk about throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress who planned to visit a detention facility.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost called the posts “completely inappropriate” and argued the posts are “contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out.” The Facebook group had roughly 9,500 members, according to ProPublica.

Ocasio-Cortez and other House members on Monday visited two Texas facilities where migrants are detained under Trump's hard-line policies. She described women locked in cells without working faucets being told by CBP officers to "drink out of the toilets." She said one of the women described the treatment by officers as “ ‘psychological warfare’ — waking them at odd hours for no reason, calling them whores, etc."

Ocasio-Cortez said she saw officers laughing and issued a complaint with their supervisors, but was told that the officers were “under stress and act out sometimes.”

Diagnosis for a dictator

Trump added an odd aside to tweets Monday about his "great meeting" with Kim. He said the North Korean "looked really well and very healthy."

That may have been an effort to clean up after Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who was brought into the meeting at Trump's invitation and said afterward that Kim was "wheezing like an emphysema patient, not a healthy guy.”

What else is happening:

  • Biden's son Hunter spoke to The New Yorker about his battles with drug and alcohol addiction. The magazine said Trump and his allies have made unfounded attacks that the former vice president used his office to advance his son's business interests. But the interview showed examples of how the Biden name opened doors for him.
  • While stalling in the polls, Buttigieg raised $24.8 million in the second quarter of 2019, more than tripling his fundraising from the first quarter. De Blasio's campaign told The New York Post it wouldn't release his fundraising information before it has to be made public on July 15.
  • Acknowledging her debate performance didn't go over well, spiritualist Marianne Williamson told Vice News, "It’s safe to say ‘Saturday Night Live’ will not be a safe place for me for the next two weeks.” Actually, she can relax until SNL's next season begins in the fall.
  • Trump confirmed a Washington Post report that he wants tanks on display at his July 4 celebration in Washington, acknowledging the need to be "careful" that they don't damage roads. HuffPost reported big GOP donors are being offered VIP tickets to what in past years was a nonpartisan event.
  • VoteVets, a left-leaning group of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, plans to troll Trump at the Independence Day event by giving out thousands of USS John S. McCain T-shirts, HuffPost reported
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents in an AP-NORC poll say the economy is "good" but fewer — 47% — like how Trump is handling it and fewer still — 38% — give Trump their overall approval. Only 17% believed they received a tax cut.

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