New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has rebuked President Donald Trump over his threat to pull federal funding from ‘lawless’ U.S. cities, and issued a chilling warning that the president would need ‘an army’ to set foot in New York City.
‘He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,’ Cuomo said at an emergency press conference on Wednesday night. ‘Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.’
‘He is persona non grata in New York City, and I think he knows that, and he’ll never come back to New York, because New Yorkers will never forget how gratuitously mean he has been,’ Cuomo said.
It follows Trump’s move on Wednesday to pull federal funding from New York City, Seattle, Washington DC, and Portland, Oregon, in a presidential memo saying ‘My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (above) has rebuked President Donald Trump over his threat to pull federal funding from ‘lawless’ U.S. cities
Trump threatened on Wednesday to pull federal funding from ‘anarchist’ cities in a presidential memo saying ‘My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones’
Cuomo responded in a tweet by calling the move ‘an illegal stunt,’ saying of Trump: ‘He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC.’
‘As far as this statement he’s going to stop funding for New York City – he’s not a king. He thinks he’s a king but he’s not,’ Cuomo said at the press conference.
‘The statutes contain the conditions [for funding] and he can’t override the law. I suspect it’s more of a political statement that he’s making than anything else, but it’s also illegal what he’s talking about,’ Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio chimed in with a tweet calling Trump’s moves ‘unconstitutional, political threats against us.’
‘Mr. President, we’ll see you in court. We’ve beaten you there before and we’ll do it again,’ de Blasio said.
It followed Trump’s threat to pull federal funding from cities he says are descending into ‘anarchy’.
‘My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today,’ Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio chimed in with a tweet calling Trump’s moves ‘unconstitutional, political threats against us’
Trump on Wednesday signed a five-page memo ordering all federal agencies to send reports to the White House Office of Management and Budget on federal funds going to four cities that can be redirected, according to the New York Post, which first reported the memo.
In addition to New York, the memo names Seattle, Washington DC and Portland, Oregon as potential targets for revocation of federal funds.
‘To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities,’ the memo states.
Federal agencies must detail ‘all Federal funds provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City, Washington, D.C.’
All four cities have seen either surging crime over the summer or protests over racial injustice that have spilled into violence and riots.
Simultaneously, Trump ordered Attorney General Bill Barr to develop a list within 14 days of ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ that ‘permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures’ to restore order.
The order does not name the cities that Barr should investigate, giving the attorney general discretion as to which cities to designate.
Demonstrators raise their fists as a fire burns in the streets of Seattle in June after clashes with law enforcement near the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct
The memo also instructs White House budget director Russ Vought to issue guidance in 30 days from Wednesday ‘to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.’
The amount of funding in question could be massive, with federal grants making up $3.7 billion of DC’s annual budget, and a whopping $7 billion in New York.
Many of those funds are devoted to Medicare and social services programs, however it was not immediately clear which types of funds would be affected by the order.
‘Violence has surged’ in New York City
In the memo, Trump detailed allegations of local mismanagement against each of the cities named, saying that New York was included because violent crime has skyrocketed even as Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to defund the NYPD.
Shootings in New York soared 166 percent last month compared to August 2019, and murder rose 47 percent, according to NYPD statistics released on Wednesday.
Shootings in New York City were up 166 percent last month compared to August 2019, according to police crime statistics released Wednesday
Protesters with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement march through Manhattan and confront NYPD officers on August 24
Trump’s memo says that ‘in New York City, city officials have allowed violence to spike.’
‘In light of this unconscionable rise in violence, I have offered to provide Federal law enforcement assistance, but both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have rejected my offer,’ Trump says in the memo.
NYC crime wave: Shootings up 166%
Shootings in New York City were up 166 percent last month compared to August 2019, according to police crime statistics released Wednesday.
The Big Apple has seen a troubling spike in crime and violence this year, and new data shows there were 242 shootings recorded last month. In August 2019 there were just 91 shootings recorded.
The number of shootings rose in all boroughs except Staten Island.
The number of murders is also up citywide, increasing from 36 in August 2019 to 53 last month, marking a 47 percent rise.
‘While violence has surged, arrests have plummeted. In a 28-day period during the months of June and July, [New York City] arrests were down 62 percent from the same period in 2019,’ the memo says.
‘Amidst the rising violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council agreed to cut one billion dollars from the New York Police Department (NYPD) budget, including by cancelling the hiring of 1,163 officers.’
The memo also cites NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea’s decision in June to disband the plainclothes anti-crime units, which had been responsible for targeting illegal guns and drugs on the streets.
‘Police officials have cited this decision as a factor contributing to the rise in violence,’ the memo says.
Seattle allowed lawless CHAZ to fester, memo says
The memo targets Seattle largely for allowing the ‘CHAZ’ protest zone to occupy several city blocks for nearly a month.
In early June, Black Lives Matter protesters forced the Seattle Police Department to abandon the city’s East Precinct building and commandeered the facility, establishing the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’, or CHAZ, in the surrounding blocks.
The comandeered Seattle Police East Precinct is seen within the CHAZ in June
Protesters in Seattle’s CHAZ remove a man after he attempted to preach a Christian message on the street in June. The memo names the CHAZ as a reason for defunding Seattle
Protesters manned barricades and barred city workers from entering the zone, but the area descended into lawlessness when three separate shootings occurred on June 20, 21, and 23.
‘On July 1, Seattle declared the protest zone dismantled,’ Trump’s memo says. ‘But such failed leadership continues to harm the people of Seattle as, in recent weeks, rioters have engaged in violence and destruction of property across Seattle, resulting in at least 59 police officers being injured and multiple businesses and vehicles vandalized.’
Portland is targeted for ‘allowing 99 days of violent unrest’
The memo targets Portland for federal defunding for allowing weeks of nightly protests, where fires have been set and clashes with police are frequent.
Earlier this week, protesters who broke windows and set a fire to a business in the upscale apartment building where Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler lives.
Portland’s police chief denounced the incident, labeling the events an escalation in the street violence that Oregon’s largest city has endured for months.
The demonstration began late Monday and stretched into the predawn hours of Tuesday, targeting Wheeler, who is also police commissioner and has been criticized for heading up a police force that has repeatedly used tear gas against the demonstrators.
Protests are seen earlier this week in Portland, which has seen 99 nights of unrest
Portland police officers fires less lethal rounds through smoke while dispersing a crowd of about 150 people from Portland City Hall on August 25, 2020 in Portland, Oregon
Police make an arrest on Thursday after about two hundred activists protesting police brutality sprayed graffiti and started fires at the Portland Police Union building on Thursday
The fire was set with a bundle of newspapers in a store housed on the ground floor of Wheeler’s building. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the demonstrators also wound up targeting other people who live in Wheeler’s building and have had nothing to do with the protests.
Previously, the demonstrators have almost always clashed with police outside symbols of authority – police buildings and courthouses.
‘The families that live inside have done absolutely nothing to provoke a threat to their lives. As I’ve stated repeatedly, the nightly violence is coming at increased cost,’ he said. ‘This is impacting the safety of our entire city and urgent action is needed.’
Washington DC ‘allowed rioters and anarchists to engage in violence’
Trump’s memo says that in Washington DC, ‘Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed rioters and anarchists to engage in violence and destruction in late May and early June, requiring me to call in the National Guard to maintain law and order in the Nation’s Capital.’
The memo, which has reportedly been in the works for weeks, does not mention the crowds of activists who aggressively confronted attendees at the Republican National Convention last week as they returned to their hotels.
Republican Senator Rand Paul on Friday called on the FBI to investigate a crowd of protesters that swarmed him as he departed the White House after listening to Trump accept his party’s nomination for re-election.
Washington DC Police clear protesters out of Black Lives Matter Plaza on Saturday. Police attempted to disperse the crowd after a group of protesters had marched in the area
Republican Senator Rand Paul (center rear) on Friday called on the FBI to investigate a crowd of protesters that swarmed him as he departed the White House
Paul and his wife (center and left above) said they feel certain they would have been violently assaulted if police had not rushed to their protection
Paul told Fox News Channel he believes the group chanting his name and pushing against his impromptu police escort was paid to incite a riot.
He did not say who he believes financially backed them or offer any evidence for his contention.
‘I believe there are going to be people who were involved with the attack on us that actually were paid to come here and are not from Washington, D.C., and are sort of paid to be anarchists,’ Paul said.
‘The FBI needs to investigate but the only way you can do it is you have to arrest people.’