“Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said last night in response to Donald Trump’s new claims that he’s planning to defund New York City. After sending a five-page memo to the U.S. Attorney General and the Office of Management and Budget about Portland, Seattle, Washington, and New York City, Trump Tweeted, “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.”
Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, Donald Trump has been inciting tensions between Black Lives Matter protestors and the police, hoping to use a “law-and-order” agenda for his reelection campaign. He continues to point to New York City’s rise in shootings. According to a New York Times story today, there have been 791 shootings since May, a 40 percent increase compared to the same time last year. Likewise, 180 murders in this timeframe is a more than 50 percent increase compared to 2019. Similar rises have been seen in other large cities, but it’s hard to pinpoint the cause. Of course, the pandemic has left more people at home and unemployed. Then there is the large political and social unrest.
Although there’s no evidence to support the claims, Trump believes the rise in violence is due to a lack of leadership and the redirection of police funds. In his memo, he wrote, “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 gives the budget director 30 days to redirect these funds, which as CBS2 reports, would cost New York City $7 billion.
Governor Cuomo did agree that he’s concerned about public safety in New York City, but as he pointed out, that is a state and local responsibility, not a federal one. He called Trump’s plan to divert federal funds from New York an “illegal stunt.” In a statement last night, he explained, “the federal budget is appropriated by law with conditions of funding by law. … The statutes contain the conditions and he can’t override the law. I suspect it’s more of a political statement that he’s making than anything else…”
Mayor de Blasio agreed, calling Trump’s claims “unconstitutional, political threats,” and signing off with, “Mr. President, we’ll see you in court. We’ve beaten you there before and we’ll do it again.”
De Blasio spokesperson Bill Neidhardt also blasted Trump on Twitter. “This has nothing to do with ‘law and order’. This is a racist campaign stunt out of the Oval Office to attack millions of people of color,” he said.
Governor Cuomo gained recognition during the height of the pandemic for his ability to play nicely with Trump. But now that New York City has some of the lowest infection rates in the country, the gloves are off. “President Trump has actively been trying to kill New York City ever since he’s been elected and it’s a personal animus as it normally is with the President. I think it’s because he is from New York City and New York City rejected him always. He was dismissed as a clown in New York City,” he said. In a follow-up press conference today, he continued to mock Trump, reading disparaging quotes that his sister Maryanne Trump Barry said about him and comparing his failure with the pandemic to other countries’ success.
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