NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A funding battle is brewing between President Donald Trump and New York City. Local and state leaders are reacting to the president’s threat to defund several major cities, including New York, over “lawless behavior.”

Now, the mayors of the four targeted cities are uniting to fight what they called an “unconstitutional, political ploy,” CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported Thursday.

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In a rare moment of agreement, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in condemning the president’s latest threat against the Big Apple.

“The President of the United States, a New Yorker by birth, threatening to take away federal funding from this city, while we’re still in the grips of this crisis, it just makes no sense,” de Blasio said.

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In a memo Wednesday, the president ordered federal officials to find ways of cutting the purse strings of Democratic-controlled cities — New York, Washington D.C., Seattle and Portland, Ore.


The memo reads, “My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

The memo details the rise in crime in New York City and blasted the mayor’s recent agreement to cut $1 billion in funding to the NYPD.

“Yes, this federal government will do everything within our lawful power and yes, the president is serious about this,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“Your words don’t carry much weight on this topic because the Supreme Court has spoken. The President of the United States can’t interfere with federal funding for cities, states just because he feels like it. We have laws in this country. So if you persist in trying to deny the funding that is keeping New York City going in the middle of this crisis, we will see you in court. And once again, we will beat you in court,” de Blasio said.

“I believe the president is, fundamentally, a bully…. I’ve known him very well for a very long period of time,” said Gov. Cuomo.

The governor called President Trump a “joke” who wants to kill the city, adding that he’s no longer welcome here.

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“He can’t come back to New York. He can’t. He’s going to walk down the street in New York? Forget bodyguards. He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York,” Cuomo said.

The president fired back on Twitter, blaming Cuomo for the number of coronavirus deaths in New York.

The mayors of the four targeted cities released a statement Thursday, saying, “Our cities, and the millions of Americans who we represent, are not President Trump’s political pawns.”

Many wonder if the unprecedented move is even legal, since state funds are appropriated by Congress, not the president.

“This is clearly the president just trying to score political points but, the problem is, the constitution doesn’t agree with him. And the Supreme Court doesn’t agree with him,” said de Blasio. “The Supreme Court has spoken on this issue, that you cannot hold back federal funding over a political difference, or even a policy difference, once it has been allocated by the congress. I think this is just another one of his blusters that’ll go nowhere.”

Cuomo also called the move a political stunt, while New York Attorney General Letitia James said if it’s a fight the president wants, a fight he’s going to get.

James released a statement saying:

“As the nation battles a pandemic, an economic recession, and reckons with institutional racism, President Trump has decided to throw fuel on these multiple fires by threatening New York and other major cities across the country. This is nothing more than a desperate, last ditch election strategy by a president too weak to lead us through these national crises. Sowing anger and dividing Americans are the last thing we need, and if the president actually decides to move forward with his threat to defund New York City, we will be ready to take immediate legal action. The president is not a dictator and his efforts at tyrannical rule will be met with fierce opposition. Time after time, we have beat the president in court and we have no doubt we will beat him again, if necessary,”

Earlier this year, the president threatened to strip funding from so-called sanctuary cities. Under the constitution, state funds are controlled by Congress, not the president.

“He doesn’t have any authority to defund states. And we will certainly use every authority we have in Congress to make sure our federal funds are not disrupted in any fashion,” said Rep. Yvette Clark.

Pres. Trump has not specified how or when he plans to cut any of New York City’s federal funding.

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