President Donald Trump may no longer be a New Yorker, but it doesn’t mean his old hometown isn’t constantly on his mind. His latest fulminations about crime, politics and the coronavirus have frequently put New York front-and-center – often with inaccurate accusations. Here are some of the complaints he’s leveraged against the Big Apple in recent weeks and months.
No COVID-19 vaccines for New York
Soon after news broke that the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had produced a vaccine that has inoculated 90% of those who have received it against the virus, the president threatened to withhold it from the state. "As soon as April the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York state, where for political reasons the governor decided to say – and I don't think it's good politically, I think it's very bad from a health standpoint – but he wants to take his time on the vaccine," Trump said during a White House press conference on Friday.
The president’s remarks were in response to comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September, when the governor cast doubt on any vaccine in the works, saying that he would want a panel of experts to vet it first, before distributing it to New Yorkers. Cuomo shot back at Trump on Sunday, saying that the state would sue if Trump’s administration “does not provide an equitable vaccine process.”
No more federal funds for so-called “anarchist jurisdictions”
Via a memo Trump approved in early September, the president is trying to pull federal funding from Democratic-led cities that his administration declares, in a seemingly contradictory term, an “anarchist jurisdiction.” Trump’s attempt to restrict funds – which some experts have already described as legally dubious – specifically targets New York City as one of three cities to be reviewed due to its recent protests and defunding police. Gov. Andrew didn’t take the threat sitting down, declaring the president a “persona non grata.” “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo said in response. “Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”
A pledge to win New York in 2020 presidential election
Trump declared in a Fox News interview on Aug. 31 that he would win the state in November’s election. He claimed his supporters upstate and on Long Island would lift him to victory despite the fact that the solidly blue state hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1984. “All the outside of the little circle in the middle, which is crazy because I built so many things there,” he said, referring to New York City. “But outside of that circle – and I said it the other day. I said, I can't believe these people are happy. I can't believe they're happy. But you have to understand, a lot of people are leaving because of de Blasio and because of Cuomo. They're fleeing New York.” Not only did Trump lose the state, but New York City erupted in celebration when Biden was declared the victor.
Crime in New York City
Trump has pointed fingers at Democratic mayors for overseeing rising violent crime, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio features heavily in his complaints. The president explicitly blamed de Blasio in late July, saying the rise is happening “because you have a radical left mayor who doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Trump had even put the heat on Cuomo to tamp down on violent crime in the city or else see an influx of federal officers. Cuomo apparently talked him down from that stance. Still, New York continues to feature heavily in his commentary on shootings and violence. He attributed crime and chaos to policies such as ending cash bail, closing prisons and defunding police departments, specifically pointing to New York as an example – although New York hasn’t ended cash bail, and crime is also up in cities that haven’t recently reformed bail laws or reduced police funding. “New York’s Finest are as good as it gets, and they should be allowed to do their job,” Trump said. “If they do their job, if they’re allowed to do their job, the New York City problem will be solved and be solved quickly.”
A “rerun” of Carolyn Maloney’s primary
Trump tried to delegitimize the electoral process and mail-in voting, in advance of the presidential election. As proof that mail-in voting is flawed, he repeatedlypointed to Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s primary race, and even gone as far as calling for a re-do.
“They are six weeks into it now and they have no clue what’s going on, and I think I can say right here and now, you have to rerun that race because it’s a mess,” he said, referring to long delays in counting absentee ballots.
None of the candidates in New York’s 12th Congressional District nor state elected officials have found evidence of fraud. And days after Maloney cemented her victory, Trump continued to fixate on the race. “She won, but they have no idea where the ballots are,” he declared falsely on Fox News. While many absentee ballots were invalidated for missing postmarks or late deliveries – which Maloney’s opponent Suraj Patel successfully sued the state over – they are hardly missing.
Telling New York City to be fairer to police
In addition to crime, Trump has also turned his focus to siding with law enforcement in the wake of historic protests against police brutality and systemic racism. He met with Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, in late July, sympathizing with the police union leader’s objection to criminally charging police officers for alleged brutality. Trump also questioned why Lynch and fellow police officers continued to follow local laws that limit police using force. “So the mayor tells you, you can’t do that,” he said. “Your job is to keep people safe. Is that a higher calling than listening to a mayor?”
Lynch had to explain to the president that if NYPD officers violate the law they themselves could be prosecuted. But, despite representing unionized civil servants in a city that opposed Trump 4-1 in 2016, Lynch was eager to echo Trump’s complaints.“The laws they’re passing are making it impossible because what happens then, we’re criminally charged,” said Lynch. “It’s disgraceful. It’s like they reversed the world. It’s the upside down world.”
Trump seemingly took those complaints to heart when he declared, “The mayor, Bill de Blasio, should immediately hire back all of the police who were fired without justification. They were fired. I guess that’s part of ‘Defund the Police’ by the Democrats. They should hire New York City’s Finest back.” But no police officers have been systematically fired in the city, even with the city’s budget cut – and despite the many recorded instances of policing roughing up protesters during the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
New York “skewing” COVID-19 numbers
While the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States, Trump has been eager to paint a rosier picture of the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths so far. Trump pinned some of the blame on New York and New Jersey’s large outbreaks skewing the death numbers last week.
“When you take them out, just as an example, take a look at Florida relative to New York,” he said. “That’s not to say anything wrong with New York, it’s just a very tough place. People are close together, it’s crowded, it’s not easy. But when you take that out, our numbers are among the lowest.”
While New York and New Jersey did see large scales of death, omitting data from both states still leaves America ranking among the worst globally.