By Paul LeBlanc | CNN
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut federal funding to several major American cities – all run by Democrats and located in blue states – on the grounds that their leaders allow “lawlessness, violence and destruction.”
The White House announced that it had tasked federal agencies with preparing reports for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, setting a timetable for the agency to restrict federal grants to “anarchist jurisdictions.” The memo specifically mentions New York City; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, DC.
Such a move would immediately spark legal challenges and echo Trump’s threats to suspend aid to U.S. cities that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, attempts that have been largely blocked. by federal courts.
But for Trump, this comes immediately on top of his frequent “law and order” messages, which he has been promoting in recent weeks. Minneapolis and Kenosha, Wisconsin, were notably absent from Wednesday’s memo, which also experienced unrest this summer but are located in more competitive states for the presidential election.
It is also the latest extraordinary example of Trump seeking to use the power of the federal government to punish citizens who reside in areas that are politically opposed to him.
âMy administration will not allow federal public funds to finance cities that allow themselves to degenerate into lawless areas. To ensure that federal funds are neither unnecessarily wasted nor spent in a way that directly violates our government’s promise to protect life, liberty and property, it is imperative that the federal government review the use of federal funds by jurisdictions that allow lawlessness, violence, and destruction in American cities, âthe memo reads.
“It is also essential to ensure that federal grants are used effectively, to protect taxpayer dollars entrusted to the federal government for the benefit of the American people.”
The president’s campaign has increasingly turned to dark themes of violence and chaos as he seeks to portray Democratic-ruled cities as out of control, in large part to appeal to suburban residents. Since protests spread across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May, Trump has worked to cultivate a harsh anti-crime message.
“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.” , Trump tweeted Wednesday night.
“We are putting them on notice today.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler berated the president on Twitter for threatening to withdraw funds “Americans need to get through the pandemic and the economic crisis.”
Wednesday’s memo sets a 30-day deadline for the Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought to “issue direction to agency heads on restricting eligibility or disfavouring, to the maximum extent permitted. By law, anarchist jurisdictions in receipt of grants that the agency has sufficient discretion to restrict or otherwise disadvantage anarchist jurisdictions from receiving.
Trump has repeatedly called on governors to deploy National Guard troops to quell violent protests, even though the protests have been largely peaceful. In June, after Floyd’s death, approximately 5,000 National Guard soldiers were briefly called in to patrol Washington, DC, where the federal government has the authority to order such deployments.
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