President Donald Trump signed a memorandum late Wednesday ordering a review of federal funds to certain state and local governments that “are permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction in American cities.”
The president’s memo orders all federal executive departments and agencies to submit a report to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) detailing all federal funds that have been provided to Seattle, Portland, New York City, Washington, “or any components or instrumentalities of the foregoing jurisdictions.”
Within 14 days of the order, OMB Director Russ Vought must issue guidance to the federal agencies to submit their reports.
The order notes that anarchy has taken over several states and cities across the nation over the past few months, adding that a number of state and local governments have “contributed to the violence and destruction in their jurisdictions by failing to enforce the law, disempowering and significantly defunding their police departments, and refusing to accept offers of Federal law enforcement assistance.”
The memo adds that violence and destruction have as a result “continued unabated.”
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” the president stated in the memo. “To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner 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 permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.
“It is also critical to ensure that Federal grants are used effectively, to safeguard taxpayer dollars entrusted to the Federal Government for the benefit of the American people.”
The order also said that Vought must, within 30 days of the order, issue guidance to federal agency heads on “restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring … anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.”
It also directs Attorney General William Barr, alongside Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, and Vought, to publish on the website of the Justice Department a list of “anarchist jurisdictions,” described as “[s]tate 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.”
Vought praised the order, telling the New York Post in a statement, “American taxpayers who fund the great programs that our cities rely on deserve to be protected by their local city officials.”
Protests have flared across the United States since the end of May, and while many protests have been peaceful, others have turned violent. Americans across the nation have seen their businesses destroyed, looted, and set on fire by anarchists and rioters.
“America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos,” Trump said in a statement. “This is our mission, and we will succeed.”
The White House stated in an announcement late Wednesday, “By identifying funds that may be redirected from jurisdictions where local politicians have permitted anarchy and violence to abound, President Trump is ensuring Americans are no longer forced to foot the bill for local politicians’ dereliction of duty.”
Trump noted four “anarchist jurisdictions” in his order: Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Washington.
For Seattle, Trump said the city government had “allowed anarchists and rioters to take over six square blocks of the city” in early June that they named CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) and later CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest). The protest zone was dismantled by July 1.
“[T]he local government effectively endorsed this lawlessness and taking of property by, among other things, abandoning the Seattle Police Department‘s East Precinct building and forbidding the police force from intervening to restore order,” Trump said in the memo, noting how two teenagers had died and another was injured from gunfire before Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan acted on the matter.
“But such failed leadership continues to harm the people of Seattle as, in recent weeks, rioters have engaged in violence and destruction of property across Seattle, resulting in at least 59 police officers being injured and multiple businesses and vehicles vandalized,” the president wrote.
For Portland, he noted that for more than 80 days, state and local officials “have allowed anarchists to unlawfully riot and engage in criminal activity on the streets,” and have taken “insufficient steps” to protect the federal courthouse, as well as initially rejecting offers of federal assistance.
Rioters in Portland have set fires in the area of the federal courthouse and attacked federal police protecting the building with “Molotov cocktails, mortar-style fireworks, hard projectiles, and lasers that can cause permanent blindness.” Trump said that at least 140 federal officers have been injured in Portland.
For New York City, Trump accused state and local officials of having “allowed looting” in the city for over a week in late May and early June, which damaged about 450 businesses. He noted a rising number of shootings, with 896 shootings as of Aug. 16 this year compared to 492 shootings in the same period in 2019, and pointed out that there has been a 177 percent increase in shootings in July compared to last year. Arrests “have plummeted” even though there is an “unconscionable rise in violence,” Trump wrote.
“I have offered to provide Federal law enforcement assistance, but both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have rejected my offer,” he said in the order.
Police officials have cited the disbanding of the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime units as a reason behind the increase in violence, the president pointed out. Trump also noted how Mayor de Blasio and the New York City council agreed to cut funding from the NYPD budget, which he said included cancelling the hiring of 1,163 officers.
For Washington, Trump accused Mayor Muriel Bowser of having “allowed rioters and anarchists to engage in violence and destruction in late May and early June,” which prompted him to bring in the National Guard.
In a response late Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accused Trump of having “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,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC. It’s an illegal stunt,” the governor added, without addressing the accusations presented in Trump’s order.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in a Twitter statement late Wednesday said, “Trump threatens to withdraw federal funds, possibly including health, education, and safety net dollars Americans need to get through the pandemic and economic crisis. Again, he targets cities—including ours—with democratic Mayors, which he calls ‘anarchist jurisdictions.'”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also stood against the president’s memo, writing on Twitter late Wednesday, “We will not allow President Trump’s malicious infantile ways to hurt New York City.”
“Instead of these foolish stunts he ought to be focused on getting our country out of the COVID crisis,” he added.