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Weather manager in chief
When the weather gets worse, the governor gets going.
Andrew M. Cuomo headed from Manhattan to his favorite LI extreme weather perch, the Welcome Center he built on the LIE in Dix Hills.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was there, as usual, and new Nassau County Executive Laura Curran made her debut appearance at one of Cuomo’s weather briefings, which started shortly before 2 p.m. Other newcomers making storm debuts included Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and Huntington’s Chad Lupinacci.
Cuomo had been generous with his advice to Curran, who was in the audience during his State of the State speech Wednesday in Albany.
Cuomo, who helped swear Curran into office on Monday, noted the upcoming weather forecast and told his fellow Democrat, “I can promise you, county executive, all of the glamour of the inauguration will be gone at the first snowstorm.”
Cuomo then offered Curran some gleaned wisdom.
“My advice, gloves and boots, gloves and boots,” said the hat-adverse governor.
So far Thursday, Curran, who donned the required snow jacket, has not been spotted with a hat on.
Mercers take a hit in bombshell Trump book
Michael Wolff’s explosive new book “Fire and Fury” is dominating the news cycle because of President Donald Trump’s reactions to its revelations: in particular, the unvarnished views of his former top strategist Steve Bannon. But the fabulously wealthy Mercer family, which first connected Bannon to Trump, looms large in the latest saga, too.
The Mercers are “almost professional fools” who Trump considered to be “wackos” but also “potential world-class troublemakers,” writes Wolff in his account of Trump’s White House.
It portrays the involvement of Long Island billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter in the Trump campaign as pivotal to Trump’s win.
Trump “in some essential sense sold his losing campaign” in the summer of 2016 when the Mercers brought in their money and Bannon to take over. The real estate mogul was surprised at the Mercers’ interest. “ ‘This thing,’ he told the Mercers, ‘is so fucked up,’ ” Wolff writes.
Trump doesn’t appear to have warmed to the financial maven, then co-head of East Setauket hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. “He didn’t like Bob Mercer looking at him and not saying a word; he didn’t like being in the same room with Mercer or his daughter,” Wolff writes.
When Rebekah called him to influence an issue, however, “that had an effect.”
The book details the Mercers acting aggressively to protect Bannon as he lost Trump’s favor in the presidency’s first months. Wolff says the Mercers organized “a set of emergency meetings,” including at least one with Trump. Bannon kept his job, and the Mercers tried to make the strategist’s life more bearable: “They made him pledge to leave the office at a reasonable time.”
A representative for the Mercers did not respond to the book’s claims, but The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that in recent weeks Rebekah Mercer has distanced herself from Bannon and doesn’t plan to financially support his future projects, expressing disappointment in some of his recent comments and political choices.
So Bannon may be on the outs with both the White House and his benefactors. And perhaps the prickly Mercers, who fund Breitbart News, may decide Trump doesn’t deserve their loyalty or money either.
... And does the fallout hit Zeldin as well?
Lee Zeldin was already having enough trouble with his party associations in the wake of a GOP tax plan that is going to cost many of his constituents a fortune. Now the GOP fracture playing out nationally between President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon is being felt strongly on Long Island.
Zeldin is under fire for his support of Bannon, who recently headlined a Manhattan fundraiser for the Shirley congressman. Zeldin has said the two have bonded over their military service, shared support for Israel and shared opposition to the anti-Israel BDS movement on college campuses.
But Bannon is perceived as a leader in the alt-right movement that encompasses white nationalist and neo-Nazi operators, and the relationship has gotten Zeldin pounded by a very loud, fairly small contingent of Democratic activists.
In a district Zeldin won by 16 points, this isn’t automatically a problem. But Trump won by double digits in the 1st District, too, and a Democrat opponent could now try to paint Zeldin not just as pro-Bannon, but as anti-Trump because of it. Wednesday night, Zeldin told The Point he’s not yet felt any pressure to choose sides between Bannon and Trump. The question may be whether a progressive Democratic candidate like former Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning can pick up Trump supporters with a populist message that paints Zeldin’s relationship with Bannon as disloyal to Trump.