Monthly Archives: October 2019

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump must hand over eight years of tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, a federal judge ruled, after Trump claimed he was immune from being sued.

    The decision, by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan, escalates the president’s battle to keep his finances under wraps, despite having promised during his 2016 White House run that he would disclose his tax returns.

    Marrero called Trump’s immunity claim “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

    Trump quickly filed an emergency notice of appeal to the federal appeals court in Manhattan.

    Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, had subpoenaed personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018 and other records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA as part of a criminal probe into the president and his family business.

    Trump’s lawyers had argued that the president was immune from such a probe while in office, and that the Constitution required Vance to wait until after Trump left the White House.

    Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, declined to comment.

    In a 75-page decision, Marrero declined to assert jurisdiction over the dispute, saying Trump should have brought his case in a New York state court.

    But the judge made clear that if the appeals court disagreed with that finding, Trump should lose.

    “The expansive notion of constitutional immunity invoked here to shield the President from judicial process would constitute and overreach of executive power,” Marrero wrote.

    Such a “sweeping doctrine finds no support in the Constitution’s text or history,” and would effectively leave the president, his family and his businesses “above the law.”

    Vance issued the subpoena four weeks after issuing another subpoena to the Trump Organization for records of hush money payments, including to two women prior to the 2016 election who said they had sexual relationships with Trump, which he denies.

    Mazars has in the past said it would comply with its legal obligations, and as a matter of policy did not comment on its work for clients.

    Trump is running for re-election. His current term ends on Jan. 20, 2021.

    The president is separately trying to block Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) from handing over financial records, which the bank has said include tax returns, sought by committees of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Oral arguments in that case were heard by the federal appeals court in Manhattan on Aug. 23. It has yet to rule.

    Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Brendan Pierson; Editing by Alison Williams and Steve Orlofsky

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a dispute over the assets of Puerto Rico’s largest public sector pension fund even as the U.S. Caribbean island territory’s bankruptcy enters a major new phase.

      The justices left in place a January 2019 lower court ruling that found that bondholders who own nearly $3 billion of debt issued by Puerto Rico’s Employees Retirement System have a legitimate claim on the pension fund’s assets. The justices refused to hear an appeal by Puerto Rico’s federally created financial oversight board of that ruling.

      Reporting by Karen Pierog; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley

        (Reuters) – General Electric Co (GE.N) said on Monday it was freezing pension plans for about 20,000 U.S. employees with salaried benefits, as the industrial conglomerate makes another drastic move to cut debt and reduce its pension deficit by up to $8 billion.

        Since taking over a year ago, Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp has carved out a number of measures to streamline the company and raise cash to pare debt. He has also chopped the company’s dividend to a penny.

        GE and its finance arm had total borrowings of about $105.8 billion as of June 30, with industrial net debt at $54.4 billion.

        The company said it will also freeze supplementary pension benefits for about 700 U.S. employees who became executives before 2011. GE’s pension plan has been closed to new entrants since 2012. (bit.ly/2APOKiM)

        GE said the freeze is effective Jan. 1, 2021, and both moves are expected to help lower net debt between $4 billion and $6 billion.

        Boston-based GE said there would be no change for retirees already collecting pension benefits.

        “Returning GE to a position of strength has required us to make several difficult decisions, and today’s decision to freeze the pension is no exception,” Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Cox said.

        Shares rose 2.6% to $8.79 in premarket trading.

        The company said it will offer a limited-time lump-sum payment option to about 100,000 former employees who have not yet started their monthly pension plan payments.

        GE expects to record a non-cash pension settlement charge in the fourth quarter, but did not specify the amount.

        The company also said it would pre-fund about $4 billion to $5 billion of its requirements for 2021 and 2022 under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by using a portion of the $38 billion cash it is collecting from the sale of its various businesses.

        The company also said it was on track to achieve its leverage goal of less than 2.5 times net debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) by the end of 2020.

        Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

         

        WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to launch investigations that could benefit President Donald Trump’s personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, a cache of diplomatic texts released late on Thursday showed.

        The exchanges were released by Democrats in the House of Representatives as part of an impeachment investigation to determine whether Trump pressed for Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in connection with Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

        Biden is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. His son was on the board of Burisma for a number of years.

        Kurt Volker, who resigned a week ago as Trump’s special representative to Ukraine, provided the messages to members of the House and staff of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees in a closed-door meeting earlier on Thursday.

        Democrats are focusing on a July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the Republican president urges Zelenskiy to investigate Burisma and the Bidens.

        In the hours before that call, Volker told one adviser to the Ukrainian president that a meeting between the countries’ two leaders was tied to Kiev’s agreement to investigate the 2016 U.S. election, according to the committees.

        “Heard from the White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker wrote.

        Later messages between the aide, Andriy Yermak, and Volker showed dueling efforts to lock in a date for a Trump-Zelenskiy meeting and to issue a statement from Kiev announcing a “reboot” of relations along with the probes into Burisma and the 2016 election.

        In a separate exchange last month, another top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine wrote that it was “crazy” to withhold military aid for the country as it confronted Russian aggression, according to copies of the messages released by the panel’s Democratic chairmen, who noted their “grave concerns.”

        The cache also included messages from Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who played a major part in the administration’s dealings with Kiev.

        Joe Biden leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to take on Trump in the November 2020 election. His campaign has blasted Trump’s efforts as desperate.

        In a signal of how Kiev will handle investigations being watched in Washington, Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 old probes related to Burisma’s founder but added that they were unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden’s son.

        WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENTS

        Separately, the White House plans to argue that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, must have the full House vote to formally approve an impeachment inquiry, a source familiar with the effort said.

        Without a vote, White House lawyers believe Trump, who has called the impeachment probe a “hoax,” can ignore lawmakers’ requests, the source said, meaning the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment.

        A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote could be sent to Capitol Hill as early as Friday, the source said. It comes as the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee plans to issue more subpoenas in the coming days as it pushes ahead with the investigation.

        “Congress must not back down from our duty to defend the Constitution as … (Trump) ignores the Founders’ warnings about foreign interference at every turn,” Pelosi tweeted early on Friday.

        Trump’s gambit is emerging at the end of a storm-tossed week for him as the president lashed out at Democrats, reporters and anyone else standing in his way to air complaints that he was being unfairly accused and had done nothing wrong.

        Trump sees the impeachment probe as a harassing follow-up to the Russia probe that investigated accusations he colluded with Moscow in the 2016 presidential campaign. Russia denies interfering in the election.

        U.S. intelligence agencies and Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded Russia did interfere with a scheme of hacking and propaganda to boost Trump’s candidacy and disparage his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

        Mueller found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump and his campaign had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

        In a new wrinkle, Trump said on Thursday that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens” over Hunter Biden’s business ties to China, again inviting foreign interference in a U.S. presidential election.

        The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. China experts said Beijing was unlikely to act on Trump’s invitation.

        Administration officials did not know Trump was going to raise the issue of China but said he had talked about it previously and they were not surprised by it, two sources familiar with the situation said.

        CNN reported late on Thursday that Trump raised the subject of Biden and another political rival, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a June call with China’s President Xi Jinping that, like the Ukraine call, was stored on a secure server.

        The White House did not respond to requests for comment on CNN’s report.

        Trump’s appeal to China was particularly striking given that Washington and Beijing are locked in a bitter trade war that has damaged global economic growth. They are due to hold another round of talks in the United States next week.

        Pelosi, on Twitter, raised questions about what Trump may have offered “China in exchange for interfering in our election,” including any possible action on trade.

        Trump, in his own tweet, wrote that his efforts to solicit foreign nations to investigate the Bidens have “NOTHING to do with politics.”

        Michael Atkinson, who is the inspector general of the intelligence community, is also expected to testify on Friday in another closed-door session centered on his review of the whistleblower’s complaint that lies at the heart of the Democratic complaint.

        Members of the House Intelligence Committee will return to Washington from their home districts for the interview with Atkinson, who had determined the complaint raised issues of “urgent concern.”

        U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman, confirmed that Atkinson would appear, but the committee has not released any further details.

        Reporting by Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao

          WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up a major abortion case that could lead to new curbs on access to the procedure as it considers the legality of a Republican-backed Louisiana law that imposes restrictions on abortion doctors.

          The justices will hear an appeal by abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women, which sued to try to block the law, of a lower court ruling upholding the measure. The Shreveport-based Hope Medical Group said implementation of the law would prompt the closure of two of the state’s three abortion clinics. The court will also hear a separate appeal by the state arguing that the abortion clinic lacks the legal standing to sue.

          The law includes a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have a difficult-to-obtain arrangement called “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the abortion clinic.

          The court begins its new nine-month term on Monday. A ruling in the case is due by the end of June.

          The Louisiana law was passed in 2014 but courts have prevented it from taking effect. The Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas requirement in 2016 when conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberal justices to defend abortion rights, but Kennedy retired in 2018 and Republican President Donald Trump replaced him with conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as the court has moved further to the right.

          The case will test the willingness of the court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority that includes two Trump appointees, to uphold Republican-backed abortion restrictions being pursued in numerous conservative states.

          Anti-abortion activists are hoping the court will scale back or even overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Trump vowed during the 2016 presidential campaign to appoint justices who would overturn that landmark ruling.

          “I’m hoping the Supreme Court will see this law for exactly what it is: an unconstitutional burden on our fundamental rights,” said Kathaleen Pittman, who runs the Hope clinic.

          “We are counting on the court to follow its precedent, otherwise clinics will needlessly close and there will be just one doctor left in the entire state to provide abortion care,” added Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the clinics.

          Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, said in a statement the law is needed because of what he called poor medical standards at abortion clinics.

          “Incompetent and unsafe providers should not be allowed to challenge health and safety standards designed to protect women from those very providers,” Landry added.

          ‘THE BEST INTEREST OF WOMEN’

          “Abortion activists are more than willing to lower the bar on women’s health in order to expand abortion, but stricter clinic regulations are in the best interest of women,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, which opposes abortion.

          Abortion rights advocates have argued that restrictions such as requiring admitting privileges for doctors are meant to limit access to abortion, not protect women’s health.

          The Supreme Court will review a September 2018 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the Louisiana law. The court in February on a 5-4 vote prevented the law from going into effect while litigation over its legality continued.

          The justices on Friday took no action on another abortion-related case concerning the state of Indiana’s effort to revive an abortion-related law requiring women to have an ultrasound 18 hours before having an abortion. Abortion rights advocates have argued that such an ultrasound is medically unnecessary and intended to dissuade a women from having an abortion.

          Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in the majority when it blocked the law from going into effect.

          A federal district judge struck down Louisiana’s law in January 2016, saying it created an impermissible undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion under existing Supreme Court precedent. The appeals court revived the law, saying there was no evidence any clinics in Louisiana would close as a result of the “admitting privileges” requirement.

          The high court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 and reaffirmed it in 1992 in a ruling that disallowed abortion laws that placed an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.

          “An undue burden exists, and therefore a provision of law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability,” the court wrote in the 1992 ruling.

          Since Kavanaugh joined the court last October, it has sent mixed signals on abortion. The court in June declined to hear a bid by Alabama to revive a Republican-enacted law that would have effectively banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

          In May, it refused to consider reinstating Indiana’s ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus while upholding the state’s requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated after an abortion.

          Various conservative states in 2019 have enacted new laws that ban abortion at an early stage of pregnancy. None of those laws has taken effect.

          WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other business groups and companies including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) have filed a brief at the U.S. Supreme Court opposing President Donald Trump’s effort to end a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children.

          The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on Nov. 12 over Trump’s 2017 plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama in 2012. Trump’s move to rescind DACA was blocked by lower courts. The immigrants protected under the program often are called “Dreamers.”

          In the brief filed on Thursday, the business groups said Trump’s move would harm individual companies that employ DACA recipients and the U.S. economy as a whole.

          The program currently shields about 700,000 immigrants, mostly Hispanic young adults, from deportation and provides them work permits, though not a path to citizenship.

          Apple CEO Tim Cook filed a similar brief earlier in the week.

          A Supreme Court decision is due by the end of June, in the thick of next year’s presidential race in which Trump is seeking re-election. Democratic presidential candidates including Joe Biden have pledged actions to protect the Dreamers and offer them citizenship.

          Trump, Republicans in Congress and Democratic lawmakers have been unable to hammer out a legislative deal to protect “Dreamers.” The Trump administration has argued that Obama exceeded his constitutional powers when he bypassed Congress and created DACA.

          The legal question before the Supreme Court is whether the administration properly followed a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act in Trump’s plan to end DACA.

          Under Trump’s September 2017 decision to rescind DACA, protections for Dreamers were to have begun phasing out in March 2018. But lower courts directed the administration to continue processing renewals of existing DACA applications while the litigation was resolved.

          Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

          Invitation to Bidders

          Sealed bids will be received until 2:00 PM on October 29, 2019, at the office of The Krog Group, LLC located at 4 Centre Drive, Orchard Park, NY 14127, Attention: Mike McGuigan, Project Manager, Tel. 716-667-1234, for the TRICO Redevelopment Project – APARTMENT & HOTEL BUILD OUT (“Project”). Faxed or emailed bids or bids in any format other than on the Bid Form contained herein may be rejected. Questions during the bidding period must be emailed or faxed to Bob Molnar at: rmolnar@kroggrp.com or 716-667-1258 (fax) by October 24, 2019. The Krog Group, LLC will not accept or respond to questions from prospective bidders received orally. 

          The TRICO Redevelopment – Apartment & Hotel Build Out (“Project”) includes:

          Current Contracts Bidding: 

          · C-301 – Metal Studs/Drywall 

          · C-302 – Flooring 

          · C-303 – Ceramic Tile 

          · C-304 – Floor Finishing 

          · C-305 – Aluminum Frames and Entrances 

          · C-306 – Doors, Frames and Hardware 

          · C-307 – Finish Carpentry 

          · C-308 – Painting and Wallcovering 

          · C-309 – Not Used 

          · C-310 – Specialties 

          · C-311 – Roller Shades 

          · C-312 – Signage

          The Contract Documents may be obtained at Avalon Document Services and the following websites and/or companies: 

          Avalon Document Services

          http://www.avalonbuff-planroom.com/

          741 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

          (716) 995-7777

           

          Reprocraft Printing Services

          136 Broadway Avenue

          Buffalo, NY 14203

          (716) 847-626

           

          The Construction Exchange of Buffalo and WNY, Inc.

          http://conexbuff.com/online-plan-room/

          2660 William Street

          Buffalo, NY 14227 (716) 874-3435

          Krog Drop Box Link:

          https://www.dropbox.com/sh/uccjh0p9vqb3pml/AABMMbeJebxKqHlGEkUiZ_Q0a?dl=0

          Complete sets of the Bid Documents may be obtained at the office of Avalon Document Services, 741 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203 and Reprocraft Printing Services, 136 Broadway Ave., Buffalo, NY. Bidders are to provide an active email address, street address (no PO Box Numbers), phone number, and contact name. Partial sets or sections of the Contract Documents are not recommended. The failure or omission of any bidder to receive or examine any form, instrument, or document shall in no way relieve any bidder from any obligation in respect to his bid.

          A pre-bid conference and walkthrough will be held on October 8th, 2019. Time and location to be announced. This conference will be the only scheduled opportunity that prospective bidders will have to visit the facilities. Additional site visits may be scheduled on an as-needed basis with Krog. All pre-bid RFIs must be received no later than 12:00 p.m. on October 24, 2019.

          Any bidder who is preparing a bid based upon the Contract Documents available at various service agencies, is responsible for obtaining the addenda from the hosting service. Failure of any bidder to receive any such addendum or interpretation shall not relieve any bidder from any obligation under this bid as submitted. All addenda so issued shall become part of the Contract Documents.

          WORKFORCE DIVERSITY AND EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The Krog Group, LLC recognizes the need to take action to ensure that minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE’s), and minority and women employees and principals are given the opportunity to participate. Accordingly, The Krog Group, LLC fosters and promotes the participation of such individuals and business firms. Therefore, all subcontractors and suppliers are expected to comply with the Goals set forth in Section 00 43 31 (“M/WBE Utilization and Workforce Diversity”), and to use good faith efforts to attain the diversity and workforce utilization goals stated therein.

           

            NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chris Collins, a former U.S. Congressman from Buffalo, New York who was known as an early backer of President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to taking part in an insider trading scheme.

            Collins, 69, entered his plea to charges of conspiracy and making false statements to investigators before U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan the day after he resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

            He faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of the two charges when he is sentenced on Jan. 17, though prosecutors have agreed as part of a plea deal that a reasonable sentence would be a total of less than five years.

            Collins had represented New York’s 27th Congressional District, which includes areas surrounding Buffalo and Rochester in western New York. He narrowly won re-election last November, three months after he was criminally charged.

            The criminal case arises from Collins’ role as a board member and 16.8% stakeholder of Australian biotechnology company Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd.

            Collins said in court Tuesday that in June 2017, during a congressional picnic on the White House lawn, he learned in an email from Innate’s chief executive that the company’s experimental multiple sclerosis drug, MIS416, had failed in a clinical trial.

            Collins admitted that he immediately called his son, Cameron Collins, to tell him the news, allowing him to sell his Innate shares and avoid losses when it became public. Chris Collins said he was in “a very emotional state” when he made the call because he was upset the drug had failed.

            “When I did these things, I knew they were illegal and improper,” he said. “The actions I took are anything but those a model citizen would take.”

            The congressman did not trade his own Innate stock, which lost millions of dollars in value. Prosecutors have said he was “virtually precluded” from trading in part because he already faced a congressional ethics probe over Innate.

            However, they said, Cameron Collins went on to tip his fiancée, Lauren Zarsky; her parents, Dorothy and Stephen Zarsky; and a friend. Stephen Zarsky went on to tip off additional unnamed people, the prosecutors said.

            In all, prosecutors said, the people who received the tips were able to avoid a total of more than $768,000 in losses when Innate’s share price plunged 92% after news of the drug’s failure became public.

            Cameron Collins, 26, and Stephen Zarsky, 67, have been charged in the case and are scheduled to plead guilty on Thursday, court records show.

            Lauren and Dorothy Zarsky were not criminally charged, but agreed to surrender the money they made selling Innate stock to the Securities and Exchange Commission under a civil settlement without admitting wrongdoing.

            ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Jonathan Jones dressed in a corner of the visitor’s locker room at New Era Field, tucked away from the media.

            The New England Patriots cornerback and new Public Enemy No. 1 of the Buffalo Bills and Bills Nation wasn’t hiding, though that would have been understandable. He was just readying himself for the interrogation he knew was coming.

            Bracing himself, which is something Bills quarterback Josh Allen had no chance to do.

            The Bills (3-1) lost an epic defensive struggle to the Patriots (4-0) on Sunday 16-10, a game between unbeaten teams that saw them combine for 15 punts and a 7 of 31 third-down conversion rate. Offense was knocked back to the Stone Age.

            But Buffalo also lost Allen, whom all hope rests on, for almost the entire fourth quarter — and probably for a lot longer — thanks to a head injury. Furthermore, the NFL lost more credibility in its effort to eliminate needless and dangerous hits from the game.

            With three very poor interceptions and a 24.0 quarterback rating, Allen struggled mightily in what his second career game against coach Bill Belichick, the Jedi Master, and his No. 1-ranked defense that is playing at a level not seen in recent memory. The Patriots allowed their first touchdown of the season, so Allen can hang his hat on that.

            Unfortunately, Allen’s hat wasn’t able to save him from entering concussion protocol with a game at Tennessee (2-2), which beat Atlanta 24-10, next up.

            Allen’s strength has been fourth-quarter rallies, but he never got the chance to see this one through.

            With 14:54 to play, he had his team on the move when he took off running over left guard. Allen was wrapped up by safety Duron Harmon, when Jones came in. The clear helmet-to-helmet contact — a violation that can lead to a player being ejected — left Allen momentarily knocked out, and unable to return.

            Did Jones feel it was a dirty hit? Helmet-to-helmet?

            He expressed sincere concern for Allen but pleaded the athlete’s fifth: he would need to see the tape.

            “I have to watch it on film,’’ Jones said. “I had no intent to hurt him, we’re just out there running around playing football. I hope he’s OK, I’m going to check on him, he’s a good football player and I had no intention of hurting anybody.’’

            Nobody does. But even though stuff happens, it’s every player’s responsibility to play under control.

            Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness, but he wasn’t ejected. But, in a galling act so typical of the Bills’ 19 years of frustration against Belichick and Tom Brady, who moved to 31-3 against Buffalo without having much of anything to do with it, the Bills were whistled for holding on the play.

            That call on Dion Dawkins offset the hit on Allen. Wait. What?

            “There is no room in football for a hit like that,’’ said an obviously upset Bills coach Sean McDermott. “I asked the officials for an explanation and I thought he should’ve been thrown out.’’

            The officials saw it differently.

            “Well, we looked at it and in this situation we didn’t feel that that contact rose to the level of an ejection,’’ senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron told pool reporter Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. “The player (Jones) actually turns. Obviously, there is helmet contact, but we have standards for an ejection, and this did not rise to that standard; therefore, we did not eject him.’’

            In other words, assault carries the same penalty as jaywalking in the NFL. Jones might have turned, but it sounds like the referees turned their heads.

            Though the Bills were able to continue the drive under backup Matt Barkley all the way to the Patriots’ 3-yard line before turning it over on downs and failing to take a 17-16 lead (things promptly disintegrated under Barkley despite the Bills’ defense getting the ball back three more times) it was difficult for players to rectify their reality.

            That a hit that leaves a player badly injured carries the same consequence as holding someone’s hand.

            “Helmet-to-helmet is a penalty that players are fined for,’’ Dawkins said. “Personal fouls, targeting, helmet-to-helmet, unsportsmanlike conduct, those are in a whole different tax bracket than a holding call. But this league has their own flaws. The film is there…He’ll be fined, a FedEx will be in his locker and he knows it.”

            Bills safety Micah Hyde, whose interception of a Brady pass in the end zone when the 42-year-old had a senior moment snuffed out a drive in the first half, presented a theory most Bills fans would share.

            “I just know if that was Tom Brady, if this was the other way around, anybody on our defense wouldn’t have been able to play the rest of the game,’’ Hyde said.

            Hyde is right. The six-time Super Bowl champion does tend to receive Secret Service type protection from the men in stripes. But Brady has also earned it over two decades.

            All Allen showed is that he’s far from taking the mantle in the AFC East Division, where Brady has led his team to 10 consecutive titles. McDermott was forceful in his assessment of Allen, who “didn’t take what the defense was giving him.’’

            That’s something Allen has done well this year, and something he did on a nine-play, 75-yard TD drive to open the second half that cut the Patriots’ lead to 13-10. Too often, though, he tested the NFL’s best secondary deep with disastrous results, likely because the underneath coverage was so strong.

            Still, Allen’s three interceptions were of the hope-and-a-prayer variety that set back his progress. Give or take a pass, he was 2 of 11 on deep throws. He and Zay Jones (2 of 8 targets for 4 yards and two picks) were so far from hooking up, they would get kicked off Tinder.

            And Belichick’s use of linebacker Jamie Collins’ to “spy” Allen was masterful. When Allen did get free running, he got hurt.

            “We left a win out there,’’ Dawkins said. “Once again, they’re a great football team and I will never take that from him. But we have a lot of games left and this doesn’t define anything.’’

            Only that the Bills are close but still so far. And that the NFL still can’t protect its players.

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