Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in direct response to President Donald...

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in direct response to President Donald Trump's posing with a Bible this week, read passages from Scriptures about sowing peace and not discord, during his daily coronavirus and protests briefing from Albany. Credit: Office of NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Daily Point

Cuomo slams Trump for Bible photo op

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was supposed to travel to the White House again this week for a follow-up meeting with President Donald Trump on federal funding for big regional infrastructure projects. Instead, Cuomo trolled Trump Wednesday at the start of his daily press briefing by reading from a Bible that belonged to the governor’s father.

Trump has been heavily criticized for using the Bible as a political prop in his much-criticized photo op outside St. John’s church in Washington Monday night. The Bible, the New York Times reported, was pulled out of the expensive satchel Ivanka Trump was carrying as she accompanied her father on the walk that occurred soon after heavily armed federal law enforcement agents aggressively forced peaceful protestors from historic Lafayette Park.

Cuomo, referencing Trump’s awkward moment with the great book, said, “Here in New York we actually read the Bible,” and then went through three passages he said were appropriate for the occasion — one from the Book of Psalms and one each from the gospels of Matthew and Mark. It’s a Bible Cuomo governors kept and keep in the bedroom of the Albany mansion.

Cuomo’s mocking of Trump actually started minutes after Trump did his Monday walkabout in the park. In a phone interview with CNN, he sharply criticized the president, later tweeting the gist of his remarks: “He used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It's all just a reality TV show for this president. Shameful.” 

The blistering interview did not go unnoticed by the president. Although Trump had invited Cuomo back to D.C. to continue what had been promising discussions for New York projects like the LaGuardia AirTrain and Amtrak tunnels under the Hudson River in the next round of stimulus funding, the follow-up invite from the White House seems to have gotten lost in the mail.

—Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

A tense situation on the Manhattan Bridge

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD weathered a lot of criticism for the scenes of burglarized stores and chaotic streets Monday night. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his fellow Democrat and city cops didn’t do their jobs, and President Donald Trump tweeted, “Bring in National Guard!”

So on Tuesday, de Blasio tried a different tack for a more orderly evening. He moved the city curfew up to 8 p.m. 

Then there was what happened on the Manhattan Bridge. 

Hundreds of protesters marched onto the bridge from Brooklyn, heading to Manhattan in the car lane, around an hour after curfew, not an unusual protest tactic. Police spoke with protesters but ultimately watched as the group walked from the Brooklyn side. But rather than allow them into the city’s central business district, officers in heavy crowd-control gear resolutely blocked the way at the bridge’s end near Chinatown.

This decision left protesters dangling in the middle for more than an hour, ultimately packed into a tight space during the coronavirus pandemic, confronted with a high-stakes showdown on a field where the barrier between the road and the East River far below was only waist-high. 

The cops’ refusal to budge was particularly striking given the peaceful nature of the marchers, who chanted “peaceful protest” while holding sometimes-wonky signs about the size of the NYPD budget. There was a man in a Spiderman costume, a guy waving incense, and hand sanitizer and pretzel handouts. The Point saw a small girl walking on the bridge with an accompanying adult. 

Scattered shouts about wanting to bum-rush through the officers were paired with protesters who asked officers to walk with them and “make a difference.” 

The bunching close to Manhattan also led to a hairy moment when a police van approached from behind and was surrounded by protesters, visions of the scene over the weekend where a police SUV drove through a Brooklyn demonstration. But the protesters helped direct the van safely back on Tuesday.

After failing to immediately gain control of looting in various parts of the city the day before, de Blasio made sure to own the bridge blockade. De Blasio was involved with the decision to stop the march in its tracks, a spokeswoman said. The mayor said at a Wednesday news conference that he had been on scene near the bridge and his rationale for the firm stand was that curfew had struck and people were crossing the bridge in the direction of places where there had recently been “physical damage.”

That was “not tolerable,” he said. 

Ultimately protesters walked back, warily discussed their exit with officers in Brooklyn, and were allowed to pass as long as they stayed on the sidewalk. 

There were some cheers but it was a relatively chastened exit after the bridge ordeal, which may have been the point from de Blasio’s perspective. 

After discussing the bridge incident Wednesday, de Blasio gave this closing message to New Yorkers, focusing more on acts of vandalism than the others out at night: “We will take back our city from anyone who aims to do us harm."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

America weeps

Milt Priggee

Milt Priggee

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Final Point

Young Fauci is no sprinter, either

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but when he’s named after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and America’s controversial science crush, even a horse running in his first race ever at a track that just reopened after more than two months of coronavirus closure is going to make waves.

Even if he doesn’t make the winner's circle.

Fauci, a two-year-old horse bought for $175,000 as a yearling, went off as the even-money favorite in the third race Wednesday. The race was, at five furlongs, a very short sprint for first-timers only. And Fauci, owned by native Long Islander Frank Antonacci and named by the owner’s son in part to recognize their shared Italian heritage, looked good early on.

Fauci was leading around the final turn and into the homestretch when he was caught by Prisoner, who ended up winning by 4½ lengths. The winner, to be fair, was trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz, the acknowledged masters of getting first-time runners a win, and took a ton of money just before post time, paying $4.70 to win on a $2 bet.

Anthony Fauci, the doctor, graced the airwaves of the nation nearly every day for weeks, standing by President Donald Trump and chiming in with his analysis of the battle against coronavirus, when Trump would let him.

But the combination of Trump ending his daily news conferences and a perceived split between Fauci and Trump on how quickly the nation ought to be reopening has somewhat dimmed the spotlight on the doctor.

Fauci the horse, though he did lose to Prisoner, managed to stay ahead of third-place finisher Indoctrinate and claim $13,800 of the $64,000 purse. And his connections are guessing that, based on his breeding, shape and manner, he’ll do better at longer distances. 

Fauci the doctor is also built for the long haul, having been in the public eye as a top medical man for more than 30 years. 

And he’s managed to stay ahead of indoctrination, too.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller