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Comey’s New York

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!

Gary Varvel cartoon

Gary Varvel cartoon Photo Credit: /

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!

Daily Point

Comey name-drops

The Point obtained a copy of James Comey’s blockbuster memoir “A Higher Loyalty,” set to be released Tuesday. Juicy tidbits about Comey’s interactions with President Donald Trump are already widespread, but we scoured the index to see what Comey says about other prominent New Yorkers.

As U.S. attorney for the Southern District, Rudy Giuliani was Comey’s early boss, whose brash style Comey found “exciting.” He recounts hearing the old saw that “the most dangerous place in New York is between Rudy and a microphone.” He interacted personally with the star prosecutor when assigned to follow a state case alleging embezzlement by another New York figure, the Rev. Al Sharpton, “who dressed in shiny tracksuits and sported a Nobel-sized medallion around his neck.”

Comey writes that Giuliani encouraged his work on Sharpton and said, “I want the [expletive] medal.” But Sharpton was acquitted after state trial.

Comey says he never met Hillary Clinton, though he attempted to when he became U.S. attorney for the Southern District in 2002. He did meet Sen. Chuck Schumer, and after the 2016 election, he says Schumer approached him at a classified briefing for senators, saying tearily — apparently regarding the email investigation — “I know you. You were in an impossible position.”

Nonpolitical New York figures and moments pop up in the book as well, such as when Comey appears as President Barack Obama’s representative at the funeral of NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu, one of two cops assassinated in December 2014 after months of protests over shootings of black men.

And Comey is keen to remind readers that he’s no stranger to serious investigations and volatile participants, given his experience working Mafia cases in the city. He remembers meeting in a safe house with Sammy (the Bull) Gravano, who had testified in federal court against family boss John Gotti. Gravano was mad at Comey for making the star witness more palatable to the jury, downplaying Gravano’s grim body count.

“Jesus, Jimmy,” Comey remembers the mobster saying, “you’re makin’ me look like a [same expletive] schoolgirl.”

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Does having that extra line really matter?

In the wake of the Working Families Party endorsing actress Cynthia Nixon for governor, guaranteeing her a spot on the ballot in November from which she could siphon votes from expected Democratic nominee Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, you might wonder what impact the party’s line had in 2010 and 2014 when the WFP went with Cuomo.

The answer: None.

Cuomo won his two previous races handily, with margins easily exceeding the number of Working Families votes he received.

In 2010, Cuomo got 2,910,876 total votes to Republican Carl Paladino’s 1,547,857 — a margin of 1,363,019 votes. Included in Cuomo’s total were 154,835 on the Working Families line.

In 2014, Cuomo beat Republican Rob Astorino, 2,069,480 total votes to 1,537,077 — a margin of 532,403. Cuomo had 126,244 Working Families votes.

So what’s the spin here?

Democrats could cite history — and some unions pulling out of the WFP after the Nixon endorsement — to justify feeling confident.

Republicans could note Cuomo’s shrinking margin and the surge of energy among leftist voters who prefer candidates like Nixon and believe that with a stronger opponent than either Paladino or Astorino, the forces just might be with them.

Michael Dobie

Quick Points

Read my lips

  • Please describe the formula that explains how, after years of escalating costs and lengthening delays, the price tag for East Side Access recently rose by another $1 billion, but the latest expected completion date didn’t change. If that problem were on the upcoming state math tests, parents really would have something to complain about.
  • After the Working Families Party endorsed actress Cynthia Nixon for governor, party director Bill Lipton said, “For eight years we tried to work with Andrew Cuomo to make New York a truly progressive state. Today, we’re going to do something different.” Which, given Cuomo’s status as the prohibitive favorite, probably still won’t make New York the truly progressive state Lipton wants.
  • Famous pronouncements in American politics that didn’t quite work out: Dewey beats Truman. Read my lips: No new taxes. You can keep your doctor. Mission accomplished. And now Mission accomplished (II)?
  • A different kind of public pension system that includes outside income in the calculation of final payments in some cases has left states like Oregon struggling with paying pensions as large as $76,000 a month. News of which made New York public pensioners wonder whether they’ve been rank amateurs.
  • One is “slippery” and a “weak and untruthful slime ball” who belongs in “jail.” The other is “morally unfit” and a “stain” who acts like a “Mafia boss.” Gosh, it feels so 2016 all over again.
  • GOP Sen. Susan Collins said passing a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired would send a “very strong message” to President Donald Trump — a man not known to be particularly susceptible to very strong messages on certain topics.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan, who recently announced his retirement, said Sunday that he disagrees with the assessment that Trumpism has triumphed over Ryanism — showing more backbone than he has since President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
  • Former Speaker Newt Gingrich says the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation is a “breakdown” of the U.S. Constitution. Can we all just agree at this point that ol’ Newt is the one suffering a breakdown?

Michael Dobie

Columns