Justice Department considers New York, Portland and Seattle ‘anarchist jurisdictions’

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The Justice Department on Monday released a list of cities it called “anarchist jurisdictions” under instructions from President Donald Trump this month to review federal funding for local governments in places with violence or vandalism. happened during demonstrations.

The memo directed Attorney General William Barr, in consultation with Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, to identify jurisdictions “that have enabled violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to take reasonable steps to counter such criminal activity (anarchist jurisdictions).”

On Monday, the Justice Department designated New York, Portland, Oregon and Seattle as such areas. He said he is still working to identify other jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in Trump’s memo. The president has made ridicule of these towns a regular feature of his campaign appearances, and he has mocked their top officials for their responses to the violence that took place during the protests.

Barr said in a statement accompanying the announcement, “We cannot allow federal taxpayers’ money to be wasted when the safety of citizens is at stake. I hope the cities identified by the Department of Justice today People will step back and get serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

As part of its justification for labeling cities, the Justice Department cited city councils’ vote to cut police funding, refusal to prosecute protesters on charges including disorderly conduct and assembly illegal, rejection of federal intervention, and injuries to law enforcement. during violent explosions.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a joint statement calling the administration’s decision “completely political and unconstitutional,” adding that ” the president is playing cheap political games with funds directed by Congress.”

“Our cities are bringing communities together; our cities are moving forward after battling a pandemic and dealing with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, all despite the recklessness and partisanship of the White House,” the officials said. mayors. “What the Trump administration is engaging in now is more what we’ve seen all along: shirk responsibility and shift blame elsewhere to cover up its failure.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Monday that Trump was “using the final months of his presidency to sow more chaos, more hate and more fear,” and she pledged to undo the administration in court for such withholding of city and state funding.

“This designation is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to scare Americans into voting for a commander-in-chief who is in fact incapable of commanding our nation,” she said, adding that Trump “should be prepared to defend this illegal order in court, which hypocritically lays the groundwork to defund New York and the very types of law enforcement that President Trump claims to care about.”

This month, Democratic mayors and governors criticized Trump for his latest effort to target what he calls “Democrat-run” cities and states. They said it was illegal for the executive branch to unilaterally withhold funding from their jurisdictions and that Trump was simply seeking another distraction from the US coronavirus death toll, which has topped 200,000.

“This is another attempt to kill New York City,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on a late-night conference call this month, adding that Trump “better have a armed if he thinks he’s going to walk the streets of New York.” York.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee called Trump’s efforts “the last baseless, petty and divisive gesture by President Trump to distract from his dismal failure to protect Americans from COVID-19.”

“With over 185,000 lives lost under his watch, we will not forget,” he said. “The president cannot and does not want to defund us. He is not a dictator and the laws still apply to him.”

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At the time, a White House official said the effort was aimed at withholding grant money from jurisdictions the administration deemed “anarchist.”

“We are not going to continue to provide these funds from the federal level if they do not use them,” the official said.

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