Today is February 22 and I am Dennis Michael Lynch. Below are my opinions on the stories grabbing headlines this morning. I hope you share this briefing as doing so will make you the smartest person in the room, in my opinion. And don’t forget to download the free DML App from the Google Play or Apple App Store to remain connected to me throughout the day.
1 – De Blasio makes a U-turn on Trump ice rinks: NYC Mayor says Wollman and Lasker rinks in Central Park will stay OPEN and Trump Organization will remain the operator
The Daily Mail reports: The Wollman and Lasker rinks will not be closed after all, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio suddenly folding to pressure to keep the ice rinks open.
Sunday was destined to be the last day of the season the rinks would be open in Central Park. The mayor wanted to shut them down because they are run by the Trump Organization, whose contracts he has been trying to cancel in the wake of the Capitol riot.
On Sunday, however, de Blasio suddenly caved to the pressure and began reconsidering closing the rinks, which would’ve cost 250 jobs.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Trump Organization’s Amanda Miller said: ‘We are very pleased to share with you that the city has reconsidered its decision and announced this evening that they will allow us to remain as the operator of the Wollman and Lasker Rinks. We will be finishing out the season and our regular programming will resume tomorrow.’
Eric Trump tweeted Sunday night, “.@NYCMayor Mr. Mayor – Thank You for keeping Wollman and Lasker Rinks open — you’ve just made countless NYC families (along w our 250 employees) incredibly happy. This is a bright moment for New York and please know we appreciate it. I look forward to saying “thanks” in person.”
.@NYCMayor Mr. Mayor – Thank You for keeping Wollman and Lasker Rinks open — you’ve just made countless NYC families (along w our 250 employees) incredibly happy. This is a bright moment for New York and please know we appreciate it. I look forward to saying “thanks” in person.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) February 21, 2021
Just a week after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, de Blasio had blasted out on Twitter, “New York City doesn’t do business with insurrectionists. We’re taking steps to TERMINATE agreements with the Trump Organization to operate the Central Park Carousel, Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and the Ferry Point Golf Course.”
New York City doesn’t do business with insurrectionists.
We’re taking steps to TERMINATE agreements with the Trump Organization to operate the Central Park Carousel, Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and the Ferry Point Golf Course.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 13, 2021
DML: De Blasio should’ve never thrown his little fit in the first place!
2 – Merrick Garland to be questioned on Cuomo, Hunter Biden and more at AG confirmation hearing
Fox News reports: Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick to be the next attorney general of the United States, is likely to be grilled by Senate Republicans Monday on hot-button issues, including the Cuomo nursing home scandal, concerns about Hunter Biden and more.
Garland’s hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to go until late in the evening. The hearing will continue Tuesday, but likely with outside testimony and not Garland himself. The hearing is the first high-profile nomination hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee with Democrats in charge of the Senate and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., running the powerful committee.
Garland is a well-respected judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered to be the second-highest court in the United States. He is expected to get enough votes to be eventually be confirmed as the next attorney general. But Republicans are likely to take advantage of the nationally televised hearing Monday to attack Democrats on major issues and to pin Garland down on some major decisions he’ll have to make if he is confirmed.
Among the expected topics is the alleged cover-up by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of nursing home deaths that allegedly resulted from the state’s policies early in the pandemic.
DML: Grill him on all of it!
3 – US has ‘begun communications’ with Iran over release of Americans held hostage after Secretary of State Anthony Blinken revealed he is open to returning to nuclear deal nixed by Trump
The Daily Mail reports: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has revealed the United States had begun to communicate with Iran over the country’s detention of American citizens.
Sullivan made the announcement Sunday during an interview on CBS’ Face The Nation, less than two weeks after Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the Biden Administration was committed to seeking ‘the release of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad’.
There are currently at least five Americans being held in Iranian custody. Some of those US citizens have been detained in the Middle Eastern country since 2015.
Asked if the Biden administration had started hostage negotiations with Iran, Sullivan told CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation’ that the issue was a ‘complete and utter outrage’.
‘We have begun to communicate with the Iranians on this issue,’ Sullivan said.
Says Biden is “prepared to go to the table to talk to the Iranians how we get strict constraints” on nuclear program pic.twitter.com/3dDkHHOzHz
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 21, 2021
DML: The gang who gave Iran pallets of cash are back in charge.
4 – New York Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home scandal may rise to federal level of criminal offense, legal experts warn
Fox News reports: Legal experts are warning that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged undercounting of nursing-home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic may rise to the level of a criminal offense.
Cuomo has found himself at the center of a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, John B. Daukas, who served as acting U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that DeRosa’s reported admissions weren’t “merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal.”
Daukas said numerous federal statutes could apply, noting that Cuomo’s administration is accusing of both making false statements to the federal government and trying to thwart an investigation.
“Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and the (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense—particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation—which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did,” Daukas wrote.
Grateful to Former DOJ official John Daukas for coming on this morning to talk about his brilliant essay in today’s @wsj on why Gov. Cuomo should be concerned about a federal probe. He’s a hero to our families who are praying for justice. https://t.co/5mxyrUjfhb
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) February 22, 2021
It’s a crime to make false statements to the federal government. It’s also a crime to conceal information and otherwise obstruct government investigations, writes John B. Daukas https://t.co/zKxX3cuo78
— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) February 21, 2021
DML: The fire is getting hotter for Cuomo!
5 – Kroger warns pharmacy customers’ personal data may have been stolen in hack
The Hill reports: Some Kroger pharmacy customers’ data may have been stolen after hackers accessed a vendor’s file-transfer service, the grocery store chain said on Friday.
While fewer than 1 percent of customers are believed to have been affected by the breach, the hackers also apparently viewed some current and former employees’ personnel records, according to The Associated Press.
Compromised information could include “names, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers,” a spokeswoman told the AP. The company said it is informing anyone who may have been affected and offering them free credit monitoring. No stores’ IT or grocery store systems are believed to have been accessed.
File-transfer product FTA was breached in December, and the grocery chain was informed the hack affected its data on Jan. 23, according to the AP. Accellion, which developed FTA, has a total of over 3,000 customers worldwide, including the University of Colorado, the auditor of the state of Washington and Australia’s financial regulation body, according to the AP.
DML: Very disturbing!
6 – Freshman College Baseball Player Hits Two Grand-Slams in First Two At-Bats
Breitbart reports: Florida Atlantic freshman Caleb Pendleton got a great start to his baseball career by smashing a grand slam in both of his first two collegiate at-bats.
Indeed, Pendleton didn’t just hit a grand slam in two at-bats in a row, but in the first two times he ever stepped up to the plate in an official college game, Outkick reported.
👀 WATCH as @FAUBaseball‘s Caleb Pendleton hits not one, but TWO GRAND SLAMS IN ONE INNING 😶
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) February 21, 2021
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