President Trump threatened the federal funding for Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Washington as part of an effort to target “anarchist jurisdictions” that he claims have “permitted violence and the destruction of property” during recent protests.
In a memo to the attorney general and the White House budget director, the president called for a review of all federal funds provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City and Washington, D.C., saying, “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.”
All four cities have experienced varying amounts of violence and destruction of property amid the summer-long protests against police brutality, systemic racism and Trump himself.
“My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump wrote in the memo.
US President Donald Trump listens to officials during a roundtable discussion on community safety, at Mary D. Bradford High School in in Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 1, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
The memo comes as Trump, running for reelection, has accused Democrats of being weak on the issue and has emphasized a law-and-order message. (In a campaign appearance Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, “protesting is a right and free speech is a right, but to engage in violence, burning, looting, and the rest, in the name of protesting, is wrong.”)
“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 president tweeted Tuesday night. “We’re putting them on notice today.”
The Trump memo calls for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, within 14 days, to issue guidance to the heads of executive departments and agencies to submit a report detailing all federal funds provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City, Washington D.C.
“The federal government provides states and localities with hundreds of billions of dollars every year, which fund a wide array of programs, such as housing, public transportation, job training, and social services,” the memo says. “These funds have been collected from American taxpayers who entrusted their money to the federal government to serve our communities and our citizens.”
The memo also calls for “identifying anarchist jurisdictions” in the United States, calling on the attorney general to publish a list of state and local jurisdictions that have “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities.”
After such localities are identified, the memo calls for the budget director to issue guidance on how to restrict the eligibility of funding for these “anarchist jurisdictions” in receiving federal grants.
It remains to be seen what impact the effort will have.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan responded calling the move a distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday night, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Trump's effort an "illegal stunt."
"President Trump has actively sought to punish NYC since day one. 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," the Democrat wrote on Twitter.