45 After Dark: Terror in New York

President Donald Trump is pictured. | AP Photo

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

The attack in New York City left a grisly scene, just blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center attack.

A man in a rented pickup truck plowed onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial in New York City today, killing eight and seriously injuring at least 11 others. President Donald Trump decried the acts of a “deranged” man while the city’s mayor called it a cowardly “act of terror.”

Details were still relatively scant about the attack.

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The Associated Press reported the 29-year-old driver was shot after emerging from the truck with what turned out to be fake guns, then was taken into custody.

The attack left a grisly scene, just blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center attack: A trail of bodies, blood and mangled bikes. President Trump was briefed on the situation by White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Before Trump tweeted about the attack, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to press with De Blasio calling it an “act of terror” and Cuomo suggesting it was a “lone wolf” attack.

Elsewhere in President Trump’s orbit:

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: White House communications director Hope Hicks, a Trump stalwart, is set to sit for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s operation.

TECH TUESDAY: On Capitol Hill, tech companies testified that content shifted from being sharply anti Hillary Clinton to sowing discord against Trump after the election.

NO APOLOGY: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended chief of staff John Kelly after he said the Civil War was a result of a lack of compromise and praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

BEHIND CLOVIS DOORS: Former Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis has spoken with special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation, NBC News reports, while Sen. Pat Roberts described him as a cooperative witness in a Senate probe.

DACA TALK: President Trump is set to meet with senators to discuss a potential fix to DACA.

YOUR WELCOME: The White House sought credit today for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’ arrest, saying it was the result of cooperation with investigators.

THANKS A LATTE: Trump associates spent much of Monday and Tuesday downplaying Papadopoulos’ role on the campaign, with one adviser dismissing him as “coffee boy.”

TRUMP’S A MARVEL: Inverse explores whether President Trump is actually president … in the usually up to date Marvel Universe, which so far has avoided him in its content.

There you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. Tuesday is over.


Trillion-dollar nuclear arms plan ignites budget brawl

Adam Smith is pictured. | Getty Images

“Congress still doesn’t seem to have any answers as to how we will pay for this effort,” Rep. Adam Smith said in a statement praising the government report. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A government report predicting it will cost $1.2 trillion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal is raising alarms that the Pentagon severely underestimated what it will take to replace its current weapons — and sparked calls Tuesday for the Trump administration to reevaluate a modernization plan first proposed by former President Barack Obama.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated it will cost at least $1.2 trillion between 2017 and 2046 to introduce the mix of nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and missiles that are now under construction. That’s a higher price tag than some previous estimates had offered.

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The projections immediately set off a fierce debate over whether such a plan is even practical, and presented Congress with a new quandary as lawmakers try to find the money to support President Donald Trump’s other military priorities, like building a bigger Navy.

“Congress still doesn’t seem to have any answers as to how we will pay for this effort, or what the trade-offs with other national security efforts will be if we maintain an arsenal of over 4,000 nuclear weapons and expand our capacity to produce more,” Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that praised the report as a “thorough, credible analysis.”

But supporters insisted that spending what the Pentagon projects could amount to 6 percent of Pentagon’s budget to upgrade the nuclear arsenal over the next three decades is a fair price for what one called the “cornerstone of America’s national security.”

“The price is affordable and the mission is imperative,” Claude Chafin, the spokesman for Republican members of the Armed Services panel, said in a statement. “Those who might argue otherwise ignore the enormous cost of facing an increasingly insecure world with an eroding and uncertain deterrent.”

And the country’s top nuclear officials have defended the modernization effort’s cost. “We’re now at a point where we must recapitalize every leg of the nuclear triad,” Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in March. “We have squeezed about all of the life we can out of the systems we possess.”

The White House National Security Council, which has been handing questions about the Trump administration’s ongoing nuclear review, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the CBO report.

The new report comes as Trump pledges to make the nation’s nuclear deterrent “far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” and as his administration reassesses the nation’s nuclear weapons structure. That so-called Nuclear Posture Review is expected to be completed by January, and could propose new programs.

But the new CBO estimate shows that even the current plan poses significant challenges for a strained federal budget outlook. It updates a previous analysis that concluded the nuclear modernization plan would cost more than $400 billion between 2017 and 2026.

“If this goes through this will be the biggest increase in U.S. spending for nuclear weapons since the Reagan administration in the early 1980s,” said Stephen Schwartz, a nuclear policy consultant. “It is not penny-wise. It is likely that Congress, the Air Force and the Navy are really going to get spooked by the looming bill. It is not affordable.”

The new budget estimates reinforce the concerns of those who have long insisted the plan is not viable.

Indeed, the new government cost estimate is in line with a one previously published by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., which estimated that updating the nuclear triad could cost more than $1 trillion over 30 years. That assessment has been widely criticized by advocates of nuclear weapon spending as an exaggeration.

But in actuality the costs could even be higher than even the CBO is now estimating, according to a number of nuclear policy experts.

Tom Collina, director of policy at the nonprofit Ploughshares Fund, which advocates for having fewer nuclear weapons, pointed out that the new report does not take inflation into account. He said the real cost could be more like $1.5 trillion.

“The price of the nuclear arsenal rebuild is skyrocketing and it’s unsustainable,” he said in an interview. “This is now a spending spree.”

In addition, the costs of the nuclear arsenal are almost sure to fluctuate as weapons programs and spending on new facilities and communications systems mature. And they could grow substantially if the Trump administration’s nuclear review results in an even more robust upgrade plan.

“If the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review by the administration does not scale-back current nuclear weapons spending plans — or worse, accelerates or expands upon them — expenditures on nuclear weapons will endanger other high priority national security programs,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said in a statement.

“This also only looks at the current plan,” Schwartz added. “If the NPR comes back and it turns out they want a new sea-launched cruise missile or a new warhead or a more bombers, all this stuff goes out the window.”

The CBO report is already being used to try to force a new debate on nuclear needs.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the upgrade plan “nothing more than a budgetary boondoggle” and in a statement urged “cutting unnecessary and destabilizing nuclear weapons systems.”

“There has never been a serious debate in Congress over the comprehensive cost of the nuclear weapons program,” added Schwartz. “We have a golden opportunity. I do not have a great deal of optimism that there are enough people in the Trump administration that are interested in this and looking at this closely.”

But Reif said reality is bound to set in eventually.

“Unless the U.S. government finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” he said, “the nuclear weapons spending plan inherited by the Trump administration will pose a crushing affordability problem.”

Bryan Bender contributed to this report.


Trump opioid panel ducks question of new money

Chris Christie is pictured.

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will recommend the Trump administration increase access to addiction treatment and recovery programs. | AP Photo

President Donald Trump’s opioid commission will call Wednesday for big boosts in substance abuse treatment programs but stop short of asking for new funding that federal and state officials say is critical to pay for such programs.

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will recommend the Trump administration increase access to addiction treatment and recovery programs, expand the availability of medication-assisted therapies and expand first responders’ ability to administer the life-saving overdose reversal drug, naloxone, according to a draft of the commission’s final report obtained by POLITICO.

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But the draft recommendations don’t include asking Congress to appropriate new dollars to tackle the crisis.

The commission’s final meeting and report come just one week after Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency — a move seen as a largely symbolic gesture that provided no new funding.

Administration officials have characterized the declaration as a jumping off point and said the president would incorporate recommendations from the commission. Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Elinore McCance-Katz told a congressional committee last week that the Trump administration was committed to “bringing everything to bear” to respond to the opioid epidemic.

While the panel acknowledges that lack of funding is the main barrier to implementation, it doesn’t lay out a figure, project how long money will be needed or where it should come from.

The report says, for example, the “principal factors” limiting the expansion of drug courts are insufficient funding, treatment and supervision resources, not a lack of interest.

It also emphasizes the need for “significant funding,” to increase the number of doctors trained in addiction medicine and to fund research on new pain, overdose reversal and addiction treatments.

The report also says federal funding is needed to help states share data from their prescription drug monitoring programs and recommends funding for a national media campaign that would address the stigma surrounding addiction and the danger of opioids.

It further calls for restoring funding for surveys of chronic drug users and morbidity information that Congress struck, including the Drug Abuse Warning Network that tracked drug mentions in hospital emergency rooms until 2011.

The panel acknowledges existing sources of funding, including $1 billion over two years authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act, which state officials and advocacy groups say is inadequate to the problem.

Advocates and policy experts say without new resources, most of the panel’s recommendations will be difficult to fully implement.

“It’s great to have good ideas but you need money to implement them,” said Chuck Ingoglia, vice president of public policy at the National Council for Behavioral Health. “How do any of these things get paid for?”

A member of the opioid commission, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, told POLITICO in August, that any effective response to the epidemic will need new money. “It’s going to need support from Congress,” he said.

Some advocates say it’s not the opioid commission’s responsibility, but rather Congress’s job, to sort out the funding issues.

Andrew Kessler, who runs a Washington, D.C., consulting firm specializing in behavioral health, said he’s not “going to get worked up” over the report lacking specific funding details. “I don’t think that’s their job,” Kessler explain. Congress should now take their ideas and come up with the appropriate funding amounts.

But last week, administration officials seemed to imply the White House was looking to the commission to help it come up with an appropriate request. White House officials said there is an “ongoing discussion” with lawmakers on Capitol Hill about funding to address the emergency.

The commission does make recommendations for how to distribute federal funding for the crisis. It calls on Congress and the White House to block grant money to the states to streamline the complicated application process states currently must follow for different programs.

Current opioid and addiction resources are fragmented and provided by different agencies with their own application requirements and reporting mechanisms, the commission said, creating a “tremendous” burden for states.

To track funding, the commission recommended the Office of National Drug Control Policy establish a system to monitor all federally funded efforts, using HHS and SAMHSA’s regional directors.

But advocates say such proposals are meaningless without detailing where the funding will come from. Some are worried that the administration will simply shift money around at the expense of existing programs.

Some question the purpose of Trump’s commission altogether, since many of its recommendations — like the need to increase access to treatment programs — rehash oft-made proposals that have never gone anywhere.

“Regarding the commission — thank you for reaffirming what we already knew,” Ingoglia said.


NYC terror attack: Live updates

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pictured. | Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday’s fatal incident, which left several people dead and multiple others injured, was an act of terrorism. | Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

7:27 p.m.: One New York City student in critical condition after terrorist attack

by POLITICO New York’s Eliza Shapiro

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Two New York City students and two Department of Education staff were injured in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in lower Manhattan, according to the Department of Education. One of those students is currently in critical condition.

The city cannot release more information about the students due to federal student privacy laws.

The students and staff were injured after the perpetrator of Tuesday’s attack rammed a pickup truck into a school bus parked outside of Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street.

Immediately following the attack, Stuyvesant and two nearby elementary schools, PS 89 and PS 289, were placed on a shelter-in-place order. All students have since been dismissed from school.
The city is sending guidance and trauma counselors into schools on Wednesday.

“Today there was an act of terror in close proximity to several schools in lower Manhattan. We stand with the entire city as we mourn this senseless loss of life. We are grateful to the first responders and school staff who work tirelessly to help keep our schools and communities safe,” city schools chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement on Tuesday.

6:43 p.m.: De Blasio, Cuomo appear together to provide details

Eight people were killed and several more were seriously injured after a man rammed a pick-up truck onto a bike path filled with pedestrians and bicyclists in what Mayor Bill de Blasio called a “cowardly act of terror” on Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to be clear based on the information that we have at this moment that this was an act of terror and a particularly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives,” de Blasio said speaking at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan just hours after the incident.

The 29-year-old suspect, who has yet to be identified by police, drove a rented Home Depot pick up truck onto the bike path near Houston Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan. The suspect then drove south striking and killing pedestrians and bicyclists along the way and colliding with a school bus on Greenwich Street.

Officials said the suspect then excited the vehicle brandishing two fake guns and was met by gunfire from police officers stationed near the area. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to an area hospital. A paint gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.

Officials said no shots were fired by the suspect and that all who died had been struck by the truck.

Eleven people were also seriously injured, including two children who were on the bus when the truck hit it. All have been sent to local hospitals with non life threatening injuries. Area schools were told to shelter in place.

De Blasio, standing with Governor Andrew Cuomo, top NYPD brass and FBI officials encouraged New Yorkers to carry on about their days. The city said tonight’s previously scheduled Halloween parade would continue as planned with additional security deployed for the event.

“We know that this action was intended to break our spirit but we also know New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence, an act meant to intimidate us,” de Blasio said.

Police officials would not provide any information about the suspect or if there are any suspected ties to terrorism groups abroad, citing the early stages of the investigation. Police officials said there is no credible terror threat at this time but encouraged New Yorkers to remain vigilant and report suspicious to the authorities.

Cuomo thanked first responders who responded to the scene and played a key role in making sure there weren’t more injuries or fatalities on Tuesday.

“The new terrorist tactic are these lone wolves who commit an act of terror,” Cuomo said. “This is all very preliminary it’s only been a couple of hours but at this point there is no evidence to suggest there is a wider plot or a wider scheme but the actions of one individual who meant to cause pain and harm and probably death.”

6:40 p.m.: Trump laments attack by ‘deranged person’ in New York City

By POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima

President Donald Trump on Tuesday lamented “another attack by a very sick and deranged person” after a motorist in New York City crashed into pedestrians and bicyclists, killing at least eight people in what is being investigated as a terror attack.

“In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” Trump tweeted.

A rented pickup truck plowed onto an active bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, leaving a trail of bodies and mangled bikes, according to New York authorities. The driver then jumped out of the truck with what was later revealed to be a fake gun in each hand, according to officials. The police responded by firing on him. The attacker was taken into custody, and his condition was not immediately disclosed.

The president was briefed on the situation by chief of staff John Kelly, the White House said in a statement to the press pool. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Shortly before Trump’s post, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident an “act of terror” during a news conference in the city, in which he revealed the death count had grown to eight.

“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” de Blasio said.

Speaking alongside de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident a “lone wolf” attack and said there was no evidence that indicated a larger plot was afoot.

Officials for the Department of Homeland Security urged law enforcement members to remain vigilant in the wake of the attack. “We have recently seen attacks like this one throughout the world,” acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. Duke said that DHS was “closely monitoring” the developments in New York City and that federal, state and local authorities were cooperating in investigating the incident.

First lady Melania Trump tweeted words of condolence to the city earlier Tuesday. “My heart breaks for #NYC today. Thoughts & prayers as we monitor the situation,” she posted.

6:24 p.m.: Statement by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

“First and foremost our thoughts are with the victims and their families. As one of thousands of New Yorkers who regularly rides on the path where this attack took place, I’m particularly grateful to the NYPD and first responders who work day in and day out to keep us safe, and to those that responded to the scene today.

“As the investigation unfolds, it’s critical that we learn what we can from this incident and do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. The scourge of terrorism is unfortunately still with us, and we must remain vigilant as ever.”

5:40 p.m.: De Blasio: Fatal afternoon attack was act of terrorism

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday’s fatal incident, which left several people dead and multiple others injured, was an act of terrorism.

De Blasio, speaking at police headquarters alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top police and FBI officials, said eight people were killed when a man drove a rental truck onto the bike lane near the intersection of Chambers Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan, just after 3:30 p.m.

A male, 29-year-old suspect who has yet to be identified is now in police custody.

Officials said the vehicle drove south, striking another vehicle and a school bus. At that point the driver got out of the car displaying firearms and was shot at by police.

Cuomo said there is no ongoing terror threat and thanked first responders stationed near the scene who rushed to the event and played a crucial role in preventing further injuries.

Eleven people with serious but not life-threatening injuries were transported to the hospital, FDNY officials said.

5:02 p.m.: Police confirm multiple fatalities, injuries in Lower Manhattan incident

Mayor Bill de Blasio and police officials will hold a briefing at police headquarters in Lower Manhattan following a deadly incident near the intersection of Chambers and the West Side Highway, which left several people dead and multiple people injured, city officials said.

Police confirmed a man driving a Home Depot rental truck plowed into pedestrians on the bike path near the West Side Highway shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The vehicle struck multiple people on the path. There are several fatalities and numerous people injured,” police officials wrote on the department’s official Twitter feed.

Officials said the vehicle drove south, striking another vehicle. At that point the driver got out of the car displaying fake firearms and was shot at by police. Police officials have confirmed the suspect is in custody.

Both de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been briefed on the incident. Mayoral spokesperson Eric Phillips said there was “no active threat” reported following the incident.

The attack and subsequent shooting led to chaos near the downtown area not far from the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial, just as nearby Stuyvesant High School students were being dismissed from class and children took to the street to participate in Halloween celebrations.

Police and emergency vehicles, including the NYPD’s terrorism unit, could be seen swarming the area as helicopters hovered overhead. Several bystanders reported hearing gunshots and expressed confusion as the high school was reportedly ordered to shelter in place.

De Blasio is expected to deliver a briefing at police headquarters at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

3:58 p.m.: Multiple shots fired in Lower Manhattan

Police are responding to reports of multiple gunshots fired near the intersection of Chambers Street and the West Side Highway shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Currently there is one person in custody. No others outstanding. All information is preliminary as the investigation is ongoing,” the NYPD said via its Twitter feed.

Police vehicles and ambulances were seen rushing toward the scene as helicopters hovered overhead.