The feud between Trump and liberal cities which encourage protests which seeking to defund the police escalated sharply on Wednesday, when the President ordered the federal government to begin the process of defunding New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, cities where officials allowed "lawless" protests and cut police budgets amid rising violent crime.
In a five-page memo sent to federal agencies on Wednesday whose subject is "Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients of Federal Funds That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities" and signed by Trump, the president orders them to report to the White House Office of Management and Budget on any funding that could be redirected. New York City, Portland, Seattle and even Washington, DC are among the initial targets of the measure.
"My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones," Trump says in the memo, which mentions New York Mayor Bill de Blasio by name twice. To ensure the federal funding is not wasted or "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."
In a tweet late on Wednesday, Trump followed up the memo by saying that his 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."
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. @RussVought45— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
In the memo, Trump writes that the city of Seattle "allowed anarchists and rioters to take over six square blocks of the city, an area the unlawful occupiers renamed the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" and then the "Capitol Hill Occupied Protest." Notwithstanding the fact that law-abiding citizens live and work in the invaded area, the local government effectively endorsed this lawlessness and taking of property by, among other things, abandoning the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct building and forbidding the police force from intervening to restore order. Tragically, the Mayor allowed the unlawful occupation to persist until two teenagers were killed and at least two other persons suffered gunshot wounds. On July 1, Seattle declared the protest zone dismantled." He also denounced the "failed leadership" in Seattle whose Mayor Jenny Durkan tolerated the local anarchists until protesters – led by a city council member – came to her own doorstep.
Likewise for New York, the memo said that the city has refused to prosecute rioters, rejected the offer of federal help, and cut the police budget despite an "unconscionable rise in violence."
In New York City, officials have allowed violence to spike. In late May and early June, State and local officials allowed looting to take place for over a week, resulting in damage to an estimated 450 businesses. As of August 16, there have been 896 shootings in New York this year, compared to 492 shootings during the same period last year. The shooting victims include children as young as 1 year old. Shootings have been rising in recent weeks, and police reported 244 shootings last month compared to 88 in July 2019 -- a 177 percent increase. While violence has surged, arrests have plummeted. In a 28-day period during the months of June and July, arrests were down 62 percent from the same period in 2019. 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 June disbandment of plainclothes units. “Police officials have cited this decision as a factor contributing to the rise in violence,” the memo says.
In Portland, Oregon "officials have allowed violent anarchists to unlawfully riot and engage in criminal activity on the streets, including the destruction of property."
These rioters have repeatedly tried to destroy property in the city, including the Federal courthouse. They have attacked Federal law enforcement personnel protecting the Federal courthouse with Molotov cocktails, mortar-style fireworks, hard projectiles, and lasers that can cause permanent blindness. Over several days in July, the rioters set fires in and around the Federal courthouse. To date, at least 140 Federal officers have been injured in Portland."
Trump then goes on to slam state and local officials in Portland who "have taken insufficient steps to protect the Federal courthouse, and initially rejected offers of Federal law enforcement assistance" even after the apartment building of Portland mayor was set on fire.
The nation's capital was not spared from Trump's wrath: he said that "Washington, D.C., 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."
Predictably, the memo slam the performance of Democratic mayors in each city, as well as state leaders:
"As a result of these State and local government policies, persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated in many of America’s cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and New York."
OMB Director Russell Vought, who according to the Post "applauded the review in a statement" was told to issue guidance on "restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants" within 30 days, while AG Bill Barr was given 14 days to put together a list of "anarchist jurisdictions" that “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures” to restore order.
Vought told the NY Post that "American taxpayers who fund the great programs that our cities rely on deserve to be protected by their local city officials." He added that the administration was "exploring all options to ensure federal resources flowing to lawless cities aren’t being squandered.”
"The lack of law and order surrounding these riots, and response from local leadership, is a dereliction of duty. Our men and women in blue cannot be handcuffed by local leadership in their efforts to respond to riots and protect their fellow citizens."
The memo was drafted prior to last week’s incidents following the Republican National Convention, when angry mobs attacked those in attendance, including Senator Rand Paul in part because Bowser refused to allow additional security.
After months of referring to the frequent rioting and looting merely as "peaceful protests," mainstream media outlets began blaming the riots on Trump after they themselves admitted that it makes Democrats look bad in the polls. Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden denounced "all violence" earlier this week, but Republicans accused him of in effect threatening Americans with more violence unless they vote for him.
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In response to the memo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasted no time in slamming President Donald Trump, and in a scathing statement Wednesday night, Cuomo said from the point of view of NYC, President Donald Trump is the worst president in history amid his threats to defund the city.
"Look, the best thing he did for New York City was leave," Cuomo said. "Good riddance, let him go to Florida, be careful not to get COVID."
Cuomo "all but threatened" President Trump’s safety if he returns to New York City during an emergency press briefing within a half hour on Wednesday night to tear into Trump for the order.
“He better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him,” the Democrat said, all but threatening the commander in chief. But Cuomo, who like Trump hails from Queens, wasn’t done. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City, people don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Cuomo said he doubted the legality of Trump’s five-page memo ordering a review of federal funds that can be redirected from New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC: "It is more of the same from him. It’s political, it is gratuitous. And it’s illegal. But it is another attempt to kill New York City."
"President Ford said drop dead. President Trump has been actively trying to kill New York City since he’s been elected," he said.
Cuomo also slammed Trump's handling of the COVID pandemic and said he is the cause of coronavirus in New York.
"It is his negligence that brought it here and his arrogance that he won't provide state and local funding to help states and cities recover from the pandemic that his negligence caused," Cuomo said. When was asked what would happen if the federal funding goes away, Cuomo said that NYC receives roughly $7 billion a year in federal aid for housing, medical, health and homeland security funding.
"I think it's because he is from New York City and New York City rejected him always," Cuomo said. He was dismissed as a clown in New York City."
He may be a clown, but he is the clown who controls the money, and for the sake of Cuomo, Trump better not get re-elected or else New York will soon transform into hellhole it was for much of the 1970s and 1980s.