Hardball: Trump Makes Moves to Defund NY and Other 'Anarchist' Cities

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

 

It’s officially on.

In a memo that’s apparently been in the works for weeks, Donald Trump Wednesday directed federal agencies to begin the process of finding ways to redirect funds away from “anarchist” cities — specifically New York, Seattle, Washington DC, and Portland — in a move that could effectively cut them off from federal funding.

The New York Post reports:

President Trump is ordering the federal government to begin the process of defunding New York City and three other cities where officials allowed “lawless” protests and cut police budgets amid rising violent crime, The Post can exclusively reveal.

Trump on Wednesday signed a five-page memo ordering all federal agencies to send reports to the White House Office of Management and Budget that detail funds that can be redirected.

New York City, Washington, DC, Seattle and Portland are initial targets as Trump makes “law and order” a centerpiece of his reelection campaign after months of unrest and violence following the May killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police.

“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 twice mentions New York Mayor Bill de Blasio by name.

The memo, citing a violation of  the “Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property” instructs federal agencies to detail all federal funds allocated to those cities while concurrently directing Attorney General Bill Barr to create 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.”

Russ Vought, White House budget director, has been directed to issue guidance regarding funding 30 days from Wednesday that will be sent to heads of agencies to guide them in “restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.”

The memo details the lawlessness in each city, from Seattle’s “autonomous zone” to DC’s “violence and destruction in late May and early June” and Portland’s nightly clashes culminating in the mayor’s decision to ultimately move from his residence following attacks on his apartment building.

But the President saves his most strident criticisms for New York City and her leaders, de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The 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.

“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. 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.

New York, according to the Post report, receives roughly $7 billion a year from federal coffers.

Mayor de Blasio, who days ago seemed to celebrate the flight of wealthy residents out of the city and called for a wealth redistribution, did not mince words in his response to Trump’s memo, invoking the familiar accusation of racism.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesman also released a statement on Twitter saying this will never stand:
“As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand. 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.”

The memo also indicates it will be updated to add cities and states as the Justice Department sees fit.

Game on.