NEW YORK — In a blistering rebuke of President Donald Trump, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the sitting president the worst “in history” from a New York vantage point after the president signed a memo ordering the federal government to begin the process of defunding New York City and other cities where protests have broken out and crime has increased.
Federal agencies were told by the administration to send reports to the White House Office of Management and Budget to detail funds that can be redirected away from New York City; Washington, D.C.; Seattle and Portland.
“President Trump has actively sought to punish NYC since day one,” Cuomo said in a tweet. “He let COVID ambush New York. He refuses to provide funds that states and cities MUST receive to recover. He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC. It’s an illegal stunt.”
New York City gets more than $7 billion annually from the federal government, according to a 2017 report from city’s comptroller.
Cuomo, in a Wednesday night conference call, said it was personal for Trump.
“New York City rejected him — always,” Cuomo said. “He was dismissed as a clown in New York City.”
He said the Trump administration has done everything in their power to hurt New York City, citing a lack of funding or action for the Second Avenue Subway, the LaGuardia AirTrain, congestion pricing and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic.
“The best thing he did for New York City was leave,” Cuomo said. “Good riddance.”
Trump responded Wednesday evening, tweeting that New York City, and other areas mentioned in the memo, were put “on notice.”
“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,” the tweet read.
This comes at the same time as Congress squabbles over providing financial assistance to state and local governments in a coronavirus relief bill. The city government is currently dealing with a budget shortfall that could result in the dismissal of 22,000 municipal workers.
In addition to condemnation from Albany, City Hall criticized the president’s actions.
“As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand,” a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “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.”
De Blasio himself threatened legal action in a Tweet directed at the president Wednesday night.
“While @realDonaldTrump spent this year hiding from COVID-19, New York City led the fight back. Now we’re trying to recover and he’s making unconstitutional, political threats against us,” he wrote. “Mr. President, we’ll see you in court. We’ve beaten you there before and we’ll do it again.”
In March, Trump threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from New York, and other sanctuary cities like it. At the time, Mayor de Blasio warned the cut would affect budgets for law enforcement and other first responders. Now, with the city reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, that impact could be even worse.
It’s a threat that dates back to 2016. At the time, the first page of Trump’s “100 -day action plan to Make America Great Again” said Trump would cancel federal funding to sanctuary cities “to restore security and the constitutional rule of law.”
A 2017 analysis from City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that about 10% of the money the city spends each year to keep residents healthy, safe and informed comes from the federal government.
Wednesday, Stringer condemned the White House push to “defund” the city.
“NYC is the engine of the nation’s economy,” he said. “But you wouldn’t know it by the Trump Administration’s constant attacks on New Yorkers. Their negligence has cost countless lives and livelihoods — and now they’re baselessly threatening our city. It’s a disgrace.”
PIX11 has reached out to the White House Office of Management and Budget for comment.
Russ Vought, the director of that office, tweeted Wednesday night that Trump had “made clear that we will not continue to funnel taxpayer money to lawless cities that fail to restore law and order in their communities. We will explore all options.”
While it’s likely that the president’s memo will lead to a complex legal discussion, Cuomo was more succinct.
“President Ford said ‘drop dead,'” Cuomo said of the infamous Daily News front page from 1975. “President Trump has actively been trying to kill New York City ever since he’s been elected.”