What to Know
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo lit into President Donald Trump over the commander-in-chief's order to defund New York City of federal money, calling it an "illegal stunt" and just "another attempt" to kill his hometown
- The order came as part of a five-page memo on how federal funds could be redirected; it said Trump didn't want "federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones"
- If NYC were to actually lose its federal funding, Cuomo said it would cut $7 billion used for an array of core programs, including public housing, social services, Medicaid, health, Homeland Security, education and more
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared his frustration once again Thursday and laid into President Donald Trump's order to defund New York City of billions in federal funding, calling the commander-in-chief "a bully."
"I believe the President is fundamentally a bully which I've said too many times and I've known him very well for a very long period of time. It doesn't work in New York because you can't bully New Yorkers. We just don't get bullied. We don't respond well to it and I want to talk about facts," Cuomo said, "adding facts still matter."
Cuomo went on to say that although he is concerned with public safety, particularly in New York City, it is not a federal issue, but rather a local one.
"The federal responsibility for public safety is national security and that has been a great failure by this president," the governor went on to say.
"He said that his protection of Americans against these protests is akin to World War II. No. World War II - I'll tell you what's akin to World War II: It was the COVID attack. This nation has not been attacked by an enemy who has killed more and ravaged more than COVID since World War II and the President as a commander-in-chief has been an abysmal failure in the war against COVID. That's on the facts," the governor said.
Cuomo's latest remarks come a day after he described the order as "maniacal" and said it didn't matter anyway because "it's also illegal."
Trump's order came as part of a five-page memo, as reported by the New York Post, that would have federal agencies send the White House's Office of Management and Budget reports that show how funds could be redirected. The memo, which according to the Post mentioned Mayor Bill de Blasio twice by name, stated that Trump did not want "Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones" and said that "anarchy had beset some of our States and cities," which included New York.
Cuomo said the order is just the latest in a string of attacks on the city from the president, saying that Trump has been "gratuitously mean to New Yorkers" since taking office, and it was "another attempt to kill New York City."
"If you didn’t have the law and he could do this by his own discretion, if he was a king, then it would kill New York City. Which is what he’s been trying to do since he was elected. And it’s personal, because New York City knows him for the joke that he is," Cuomo said during a conference call Wednesday evening. "This is a man who is disrespected by his own family. His own sister, former federal judge, is disgraced by him. What does that say about a person who spends his time trying to destroy a place where he came from ... So actively and continually has this hateful animus towards the place that was his home?"
Trump said in a tweet later Wednesday night 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."
In the memo, the president accused New York officials of allowing looting to occur earlier in the summer, and referred to the city's months-long crime spike and budget cuts to the NYPD, which he claimed led to the surge in violence.
Mayor de Blasio also responded to the president's order, accusing him of making "unconstitutional, political threats" against the city, adding "Mr. President, we’ll see you in court. We’ve beaten you there before and we’ll do it again."
Trump followed up with another barb early Thursday, blasting Cuomo's record on nursing homes and alleging 11,000 people died because of his incompetence. Official state records put the total number of COVID nursing home deaths around 6,600, but that figure only includes patients who died on nursing home property, not those who may have been transported and later died at a hospital. Cuomo's administration says it counts nursing home deaths that way to avoid potentially counting them twice -- both as a nursing home death and as a hospital death.
And despite the threat of legal action, the Trump administration pushed back as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said "the president will follow through. We are pursuing every avenue in federal government."
De Blasio, at his daily news conference Thursday, took up the fight yet again, renewing his threat to sue over funding.
"You failed us, and now you want to punish us? It makes no sense," the mayor said. "Why don't we stop the words and get on with some actual action to help New York City and help the people of this country. That's what we actually need."
What would it mean if the city were to actually lose out on its federal funding? Cuomo said that NYC would lose out of more than $7 billion that is used for an array of core programs, including public housing, social services, Medicaid, health, Homeland Security, education and more.
But overall, Cuomo said he wasn't overly worried about the changes taking place because he sees the gesture as a stunt by Trump, which he doesn't have the authority to do.
"He doesn't have the legal power to do anything, it's a political statement," Cuomo said. "I don't believe anything will come of this."
The New York Civil Liberties Union responded similarly, calling it "an illegal stunt designed to sow chaos and threaten our democracy. New Yorkers won't tolerate political grandstanding driven by racism and fear-mongering."
Staten Island Congressman Max Rose, who has criticized both President Trump and Mayor de Blasio on numerous occasions, said that the order by the president would actually serve to defund the police, a move he criticized.
"With this order, President Trump is joining Mayor de Blasio in defunding the police. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I will not sit back if you’re putting my constituents at risk by playing politics," Rose said in a statement. "I will be looking into whatever options are available so New York City is not put at further risk because of the Mayor or the President."
Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C., were also on the list of cities that were ordered to lose federal funding. The mayors of those three cities, along with de Blasio, issued a joint statement Thursday condemning Trump's threats.
“Our cities, and the millions of Americans who we represent, are not President Trump’s political pawns. We are confronting unprecedented challenges—fighting back a pandemic and economic devastation without another stimulus," the statement said. "Now, instead of leadership from the White House, we are faced with new attacks that are unlawful, unconstitutional and will be undoubtedly defeated in court. President Trump needs to wake up to the reality facing our cities—and our entire country—and realize he is not above the law.”