Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting “New York Tough” on President Trump. The governor on Wednesday hit back at the president’s threat to cut federal funds for New York City, saying Mr. Trump “better have an army” if he wants to walk through the streets of his hometown.
“From the point of view of New York City, this has been the worst president in history,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters. He said Mr. Trump “has been actively trying to kill New York City ever since he’s been elected.”
“I think it’s because he is from New York City, and New York City rejected him. Always. He was always dismissed as a clown in New York City. Those who know him best like him least. That’s true about New York City, that’s true about his own family.”
Cuomo’s jabs came in response to an official memo Mr. Trump sent to federal agencies telling them to find ways to defund what he calls “anarchist jurisdictions” including New York City, Seattle, Portland and Washington, D.C.
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” the memo said, accusing those cities of permitting “anarchy, violence, and destruction.” The president has made attacks on major Democratic-run cities a central focus of his reelection campaign.
Cuomo waved off the idea of Mr. Trump cutting funds for New York City, pointing out that there are legal restrictions on what can be slashed. And he suggested the president think twice before returning to the city he once called home.
“He can’t come back to New York. He can’t,” Cuomo said. “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’s senior advisor, Rich Azzopardi, followed up on the comments after they caused an uproar on social media, writing on Twitter that “what (Cuomo) meant was Trump was persona non grata after everything he did to his now abandoned home town.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also jumped in to the dispute. At a news briefing Thursday, he addressed his remarks to the president, saying: “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 and states just because he feels like it. We have laws in this country. So if you persist in trying to deny the funding that’s 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.”
Mr. Trump was born and raised in Queens — as was Cuomo — and spent most of his life in New York City, residing in a penthouse in Trump Tower. But in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump won just 19% of the vote in the city overall, and less than 10% in Manhattan.
The president last year switched his primary residence to Florida, where he has his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
“The best thing he did for New York City was leave,” Cuomo said in his call. “Good riddance. Let him go to Florida. Be careful not to get COVID.”
The two New Yorkers continued sparring on Thursday. Mr. Trump tweeted twice about Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and made a crack about “puppet New York prosecutors.” State prosecutors in New York are conducting a criminal investigation into the president’s business dealings and have subpoenaed his tax returns.
Mr. Trump, who has praised his own handling of the pandemic despite 186,000 deaths nationwide, said Cuomo “has the worst record on death and China Virus.”
Cuomo, meanwhile, fought back in his press call.
“I believe the president is fundamentally a bully,” he said. “It doesn’t work in New York because you can’t bully New Yorkers. We just don’t get bullied.”